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Del. Ken Plum: Ways to Go

by Del. Ken Plum October 1, 2015 at 10:45 am 27 Comments

Del. Ken Plum/File photoOne of the early rites of passage for me and those of my generation was to get a driver’s license. I was pleased to run errands for the family, and my parents were generous in allowing me to use the family car for school and social events.

Now I understand that about a fourth of millennials are not even bothering to get a driver’s license. And when you consider how many communities are developing by transit oriented development (TOD) principles, there is less of a need to own or lease an automobile. These shifts in living patterns have significant public policy implications.

With the opening of the Silver Line to Wiehle-Reston East, I have another alternative for my travels. Within a year residents in the new apartments under construction by Comstock at Reston Station will be able to take the elevator down to the plaza to the bus to Dulles on the Silver Line to points east as well as Maryland.

For weekend travel, a Zipcar or other hourly rentals are available, and a bicycle provides good healthy exercise. A new hourly car rental system allows you to leave the car at your destination without the need to return it to where you picked it up. Some suggest that the driverless vehicle is not that far in the distant future, and with the rapid advances I have seen in recent times, I believe them.

The traditional taxi system got a jolt with the introduction of Uber and other companies that use drivers and their own automobiles to transport passengers. The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation this year to establish a legal framework under which the companies can provide service to consumers in a safe and legal way. I would guess that there is likely to be a melding of these two businesses in the future to provide more convenient car ridesharing.

In the short run, I understand the interests of persons dependent upon automobile travel that our roadway surfaces be repaired and that traffic congestion be reduced.

We suffer from more than a decade of refusal on the part of the legislature to provide adequate funding for highway construction and repair. During that time I co-sponsored and voted for many bills only to see them defeated. Technological advances are helping to reduce congestion with better traffic light systems and with regulated traffic systems as has just been introduced on I-66.

These improvements must take into account the bigger picture of transportation. Road improvements must include bicycle travel lanes. Mass transit will need subsidy just as our roads are subsidized. Public and private incentives need to be offered for car-pooling, and the use of transit. TOD must be given priority.

Our public policy on transportation must recognize that there are many different ways to go.

  • Karen Goff

    Letting all you regular commenters know now. We are getting much tougher on derogatory comments here. Some of the most popular commenters have recently had their IP addresses banned. So remember: OK to dislike and argue ideas respectfully. Not OK to slam people, entire groups (races and classes) of people, children, etc. We are now on a three strikes you’re out – if you post two nasty comments in a row that are in violation of the rules, you are gone. Thank you. KG

    • Mike M

      I hope you are sensitive to personal political bias in your censorship decisions. I have seen some of the pressure brought to bear against you and I have seen you admirably hold the line. Did I just hear a crack? Most of that censorship pressure has been from leftward readers complaining about rightward views intelligently expressed. For example, if someone is concerned about illegal immigration and related crime, their comments have been dismissed by other readers as “racist” and that is often clearly not all all the case. By the way, I have yet to see a rightward thinker ask you to censor the comments of anyone. Have you noticed that?

      • Karen Goff

        I am talking about vulgarity and turning virtually every story into an argument about immigration. My site, my rules. I have had enough — It’s not about personal bias, it is about effectively doing my job. Either follow the rules or find another site.

        • Mike M

          Um, I believe I have figured it out. But I have seen some of the calls for censorship and they seem off base.I have also seen some intelligent discussion in here. I think that has been a good thing and a strength of your product. Sometimes intelligent commentary on issues that matter to Restonians might be a little sharp. I guess it’s a fine line. But I’d hate to see this local board lose it’s edge.

        • susie

          The heated topic discussed here is ILLEGAL immigration – not immigration.

  • JamesTaggart

    Ken, some would say you’re grossly inept and mistaken in this example. As you should know, vehicle and gas taxes are earmarked by law for these very things you’re crying for. However, more often than not, the money never actually makes it to the end destination because the Democratic party has a history of pulling from this like a piggy bank.

    I hope the truth doesn’t get me banned.

    • Karen Goff

      Nope. Those are reasonable criticisms and arguments while following the rules. Thanks!

  • JamesTaggart

    Also, why should mass transit be subsidized? There are a large number of people throughout the state of Virginia that will NEVER once even sniff a METRO station yet here you are ready to pounce on their checkbook and redistribute their money so a failing system can continue to “operate”

    • Chuck Morningwood

      Because said Millenials, who don’t own cars, also pay taxes and still need to get to work.

      • JamesTaggart

        If they don’t have cars they aren’t paying gas tax or property tax, so why should they get a free ride on mass transit? Let them pay the fares that the market dictates

  • susie

    Trump 2016

    • Chuck Morningwood

      From the same circus that gave us Trump the Impressario:

      Palin/Bachmann 2016

  • Mike M

    Ken, you understand that about a fourth of millennials are not even bothering to get a driver’s license. Could this be economics at work? I have detected over the years that the Democratic Party has been in something of a “War against Cars.” Like many ideals of the left it just doesn’t work in the real world. Privately owned automobiles have given us enormous freedom. Isn’t that a good thing? Or should we be dependent upon government subsidy for our personal transportation? Metro only serves certain people with certain destinations. I just don’t think your personal druthers mesh with the realities of most Restonians.

    • meh

      I guess 1/4th of millennials are not traveling by air. It would be really nice if the state of Virginia was innovative and started to issue state ids electronically via web/apple or android apps. Then we could use these ids for airport security, driving, hunt&fish, carry weapons permit, voter registration, library, social services/free stuff, etc.

  • meh

    The area needs more bike paths, ideally separated from major roads. I think more people would commute on a bike if they weren’t worried about some teen texter or road rage driver running them over.

  • Demo Man

    Pressing hard for the Millennial vote now, huh? They comprise less than 1/3 of Reston’s population and, historically, younger people have been the least likely to turn out and vote. Reston is rich with older residents who vote in droves; how about addressing senior care or housing? None of the above will vote for any area candidate on the basis of what the candidate has done for transpo because they haven’t done anything.

    • Greg

      There is no cemetery in Reston. Where do the departed rest?

      • Mike M

        There is no rest for the departed. And, hey! They could vote!

  • JamesTaggart

    Ken, you do realize that by reducing the number of new vehicles on the road the state will lose a significant amount of coin in property tax as VA is one of the few states that taxes vehicles.

    The same goes for gas tax if you reduce the number of cars on the road. Then you can say the same for the collection of tribute from VDOT. I can only hope your short shortsightedness and pandering for votes doesn’t have negative consequences.

    • Grandpa Jack

      I think a cute movie idea would be about a parrot who is raised by eagles. It
      would be cute because the parrot can’t seem to act like an eagle. After a
      while, though, to keep the movie from getting boring, maybe put in some
      pornography. Later, we see the happy parrot flying along, acting like an
      eagle. He see two parrots below and starts to attack, but it’s his parents.
      Then, some more pornography.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    Really, Ken, you ignore the awful truth. There is no amount of road improvements or mass transit that is going to keep Reston from looking like downtown Beijing if we effectively double our population as projected. Indeed, instead of extra funding for new roads and bus routes, what we really need is a cap on population growth. Try getting the local Board of Supervisors to stop approving new developer projects. While not actually improving the quality of life in Restion, it would go a long way towards stopping the deterioration.

    • Terry Maynard

      Chuck–There is actually a cap on population in Reston in the Comprehensive Plan: 13 persons per acre. That works out to about 78,000 people using the absurd method the County uses to calculate that number (based on an ASSUMED # of people per household by type of household–SFH, TH, apt/condo at hi- & lo-rise; all magic, no science).

      But, yes, the County is now in the process of increasing that cap by either (a) raising the overall # of persons per acre, (b) increasing the ASSUMED number of people per household, or (c) dropping the clause all together. So what’s the point?

      Actually, our founder, the late Bob Simon, said decades ago that the population of Reston should never exceed 78,000. But he’s dead and the County doesn’t care what he thought.

    • Ming the Merciless

      Think bigger! If Reston had the same density as Manila, it would have 1,902,895 people. Think of the RA dues! Think of all the votes for Ken! The teeming billions of Africa and Latin America could surely spare a few million to enrich us with their vibrant diversity.

      • Mike M

        This comment was censored, for some reason.

  • meh

    What is Wingz!!! going to do now.. Talking about wanting hooters is right out the door…

  • Rational Reston

    It would have been nice if Delegate Plum had put in details of his defeated bills, and what transportation bills (if any) were passed in their place.

    • Greg

      It would embarrass and shame Komrade Ken. For decades he’s pumped money into the dysfunctional mess otherwise known as Metro and let nearly everything else rot. Driven down the rutted, muddy Hunter Mill Road road recently? It’s a “scenic byway” because it reminds of of what danger lurked on roads of olden days. Surely it will flood this week and next, and whatever improvements may have been made will float away with all of the other litter and flotsam into the runs and rivers.

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