Del. Ken Plum and 14 members of the Virginia General Assembly want toll relief for federal workers who are commuting on Virginia toll roads — including the Dulles Greenway — to go to their unpaid jobs as the longest government shutdown in U.S. history continues without an end in sight.
On Friday (Jan. 11), the 15 members sent a letter to the Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine and Greg Woodsmall from the Toll Road Investors Partnership II, L.P., urging them to work with EZ-Pass to develop a system to freeze tolling Virginian workers who are forced to work without pay during the current government shutdown.
“It is suggested that this letter [from the workers’ respective departments] is submitted in conjunction with their EZ-Pass transponder number and that this number be used to freeze the transponder’s ability to charge the petitioning Virginian during the entirety of their furlough,” the members wrote in the letter.
They also urged Valentine and Woodsmall to design a way to reimburse tolls that were collected from Dec. 20 — the beginning of the federal government shutdown — until the shutdown ends.
Virginia is the sixth most affected state by the shutdown with more than 34,000 workers who are affected by the furlough and a “significant number of them” who are expected to work without pay, according to the letter.
“These hardworking Virginians are TSA agents, United States Marshalls, FBI agents and others who are working hard to protect our nation and state, allowing our nation’s operations to continue during the government shutdown,” the members wrote.
Del. Karrie Delaney, who represents a large population of federal workers in the 67th District, which includes parts of Herndon, said that the letter is an opportunity to provide some financial relief for the federal workers who “are trying to figure out how they are going to make ends meet.”
“I represent TSA Agents, United States Marshalls, and FBI agents who are currently working without pay in order to protect our nation and our state,” Delaney said in a press release. “These residents are still going to work every day to ensure our nation’s operations continue, but they are not receiving a paycheck.”
JUST RELEASED: 14 other members of the GA and I have written the Secretary of Transportation to request that they take action and provide toll relief for furloughed federal workers who are still commuting on Virginia toll roads to go to their unpaid jobs.https://t.co/l5v6Lv5qQC
— Karrie Delaney (@KarrieKDelaney) January 11, 2019
Sameride, a ridesharing app that allows drivers and passengers to offer and request rides, has launched a new route from Herndon, Reston and Loudoun County to Arlington and the District.
More than 140 commuters are registered for the service, which allows app drivers and passengers to offer or request rides before taking off for their commute. Unlike taxi services, Sameride is an on-demand carpool service that helps connect drivers and drivers commuting on the same route.
Commuters can carpool on express lanes between Park & Ride commuter lots and their offices. The company, which first launched a route between Woodbridge and Tysons Corner, serves around 250 commuters. Company officials estimate the service can help customers who commute between the Herdon-Monroe Park & Ride lot and Rosslyn Metro Station $300 on rider’s fares or $590 on express lanes tolls on a monthly basis.
Andriy Klymchuk, a company representative for Sameride, said demand for a carpool matching service from Reston and Herndon has grown.
“This demand is due to the conversion of I-66 into high-occupancy toll express lanes, new residential constructions in the area and expansion of Herndon-Monroe Park & Ride lot. The same is true for Loudoun County commuters,” Klymchuk said. “In addition, Reston area serves as a hub for Sameride commuters coming on 267. Some commuters drive from as far as west of Leesburg and pick-up riders at the commuter lots near Reston.”
Klymchuk offered the following information about how the company differs from other ridesharing services:
Think about it as a commute sharing. You and your neighbor happen to work in the same location and you agree to ride to work together. With Sameride you do the same but through the app that allows you to create on-demand carpools. You can choose to be a driver or a rider, set your pick-up time and locations, commute once or daily, create ride requests or offers a few hours or a week before your commute. Drivers benefit from using HOT express lanes toll-free and riders benefit from getting a free commute. Both parties benefit from getting to the office and back home faster.
The app is available on iOS and Android.
Photo via Sameride
Top 5 Restaurants, Per OpenTable — According to OpenTable customer reviews, the top 5 restaurants in Reston are PassionFish, Big Bowl, Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro, Il Fornaio and Neyla Mediterranean Bistro. [Patch]
Tetra Misses Revenue Forecast — Local advocacy group Reston 20/20 faults the Reston Association for “horrible” revenue forecasting for the RA’s Tetra/Lake House. Programming revenue for Tetra is expected to be $82,535 for 2016 compared to the $175,000 budgeted in May. Total costs, however, were below budget. [Reston 20/20]
Arlington to Reston Commute — Redditors are weighing in on the feasibility of an Arlington-to-Reston reverse commute. The emerging consensus: mornings aren’t too bad but evenings are rough. [Reddit]
Photo courtesy @MrErrett
No matter, we’re still No. 1 — in commuting time.
A new report produced by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) shows drivers waste more than 3 billion gallons of fuel and were stuck in their cars for nearly 7 billion extra hours — 42 hours per rush hour commuter — in the last year.
Washington, D.C. tops the list of gridlocked cities, with 82 hours of delay per commuter, followed by Los Angeles (80 hours), San Francisco (78 hours), New York (74 hours), and San Jose (67 hours).
TTI says the problem has become so bad that drivers in the worst areas have to plan more than twice as much travel time as they would need to arrive on time in light traffic just to account for the effects of irregular delays such as bad weather, collisions, and construction zones. Anyone who has driven I-66 on a rainy day can attest to that.
So how do you deal with your commute? Take our poll and tell us more in the comments.