2012-07-03: Leesburg's Republican Ken Reid was the most articulate and forceful critic of the Metro Silver Line extending Dulles Rail into Loudoun County where he is one of nine elected supervisors (councilors.) But in a flip today he voted in favor of the rail transit project and provided the key swing vote for a 5 to 4 tally in favor.The article goes on to provide a very complete description of the decision and its implications for growth in Loudoun, its costs and who's paying for it, etc. In the final paragraphs, Peter Samuel, TollRoadsNews editor/publisher, provides his perspective on the decision:
That means all the local government financial commitments are in place for Phase 2 of the Silver Line project which depends for over half its funding or $1.4 billion on bonds secured to the revenues of the Dulles Toll Road. . . . .
Contrary to the view that the Silver train line will bring great development to Loudoun County is that it will be so slow and inconvenient with trip-end mode changes, and stopping every 'station' - compared to the near door-to-door cars, vans or buses - that it will attract little patronage and little development. And in this view the tax and toll burdens of supporting the loans needed to pay for the $5.6b Line and the train's operating losses will make it a serious net detriment to the corridor.
New sensing and control technologies heavily favor flexible and customized rubber-tired modes (cars, vans, buses etc) over trains on 19th century steel rails with their old 'switches' and 'stations.' Road-based vehicles provide the more personalized door to door modes, offering a range of price/service options, versus the train's one service, no options. . .
. . . Financial crises could well see metro areas forced to heavily reduce or even abandon rail service because of its drain on their budgets, whereas road travel is financially self-sufficient.He may well be right.
Ken Reid is a colleague and a friend. He's a specialist journalist and publisher like us - but in the health regulation and medical devices area. And he's a great guy. And deserves credit for taking transportation issues much more seriously than most elected officials. And he has had the courage to challenge popular elite opinion.
But in the end Ken Reid voted for a technological dinosaur and a financial disaster, and did a grave disservice to his constituents. Sad, because he knows better.
For the full article, click here.