Delivered to: Fairfax Delegates to Virginia’s General Assembly, January 4, 2014, at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Virginia 22035-0002.
“My name is Stuart Whitaker. I am a financial economist by training, and have lived in Fairfax County for over thirty years. I have recently turned my attention to public transit, and have created, among other things, an initiative called Transiters.com, which promotes public transit use.
Regardless of whether you voted for or against last year’s transportation funding legislation, HB2313, I want to thank you for all the work that you did.
I would be surprised if any of you came here this morning by public transit. There’s a saying that people vote with their feet, and unless I am wrong, none of you voted for public transit. Most of you are probably what are sometimes called "choice riders" because you can choose how to travel. I understand how inconvenient public transit can be--the earliest anyone could get here via public transit from my starting point at West Falls Church Metro was 9:30, thirty minutes after the start of this 9:00 meeting. And what would be an 18 minute auto trip takes 76 minutes by public transit trip, over four times as long.
Why does public transit matter and why should you care? Consider the benefits of public transit:
- to start, it levels the playing field and allows everyone to participate in civic activities such as this;
- it lowers infrastructure costs which means the HB2313 dollars will go further.
- it generates lower greenhouse gas emissions;
- it fosters better health from walking rather than driving;
- it lowers individual transportation costs;
- it is better for the community;
- last but not least, it is good for the economy, enabling some people to get to jobs they might not otherwise be able to get to, it offers people a leg up on the economic ladder, and a chance at the American Dream.
People make transportation choices based on a number of factors, including the location of their destination and the level of service provided by local transit agencies. While most buildings can’t be moved, here is what I would ask you to do.
1. Endorse the principle of meeting in transit accessible locations at transit accessible times.
2. Introduce and support legislation to measure the accessibility of state and local government facilities.
3. Introduce and support legislation to require state and local government organizations:
a) to take transit accessibility into consideration in their operations,
b) to use transit accessible locations whenever possible, and
c) to coordinate their operations with local public transit agencies.
Thank you very much for your attention.”