Sunday, October 4, 2009

More Rail Options in DC!

There are many, MANY reasons whyI do not like Ohio, but the lack of rail options is by far one of the biggest. Organizations like All Aboard Ohio are working hard to change this, but for now the reality still exists--if you're in Columbus, there ain't shit for transportation options. And this affects what Urban Planners define as "Transportation Behavior", which is the belief that your surrounding area,not your personal preference, will control which transportation mode you select. For example, you would be deemed insane if you were living in Westerville and decided to walk to work in Reynoldsburg. On the flip side, that's about the same distance between College Park, MD and Washington, DC--and thousands upon thousands of people use the bus and Metro system to make that journey. Why the change? Because frankly driving to DC is a pain in itself, and the parking fees are so astronomical that taking the metro is way more convenient! Here in Ohio we don't have those options, and because of this our transportation behavior is solely single-use automobile.

So, now get this. Virginia is about to launch rail service from Lynchburg to Washington DC, and it's part of a test to see how VA would benefit from more rail options. Why can't this happen here in the Buckeye State?
Virginia launches its first state-funded intercity passenger train Thursday from Lynchburg to Washington, a move that will enhance mass-transit options for Northern Virginia commuters and people across the state.

The new service is part of a $17.2 million, three-year pilot program the state is running, and fully funding, to determine whether enhanced rail service is viable in Virginia. The pilot program will offer two trains, one from Richmond and one from Lynchburg, that will travel to Union Station and then on to Boston. Service between the Virginia terminuses and Washington will include stops at some Virginia Railway Express stations; service between Washington and Boston will include stops in Philadelphia and New York.

However, the train set to run from Richmond will not launch until Dec. 15 because the necessary infrastructure improvements -- about $78 million worth -- are not complete, said Jennifer Pickett, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. She noted that $43 million in improvements were completed so that the Lynchburg service could begin.

"This is a pilot project. It is the beginning of something, not the end of something," said Sharon Bulova (D), chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. "We are going to see this grow."
It's sad that in one of the largest cities in the US (Columbus), there is no intercity rail service, nor is there any kind of commuter rail whatsoever. If Lynchburg, VA can get it (and St. Cloud, MN; Madison, WI; Portland, OR; etc.)...why can't we?