Looks like some folks at The Heritage Foundation have noticed how our county, Arlington in Virginia, is good at spending taxpayer dollars.
The high-tech appearing but close-to-useless bus stops along Columbia Pike are merely a symptom of the actual disease: urbanitis. This disease seems to cause our bien pensants to think that jazzy bus stops, coupled with light rail, are just the thing to turn our not-quite-urban, not-quite-suburban county into Midtown Manhattan.
For those who don’t know Arlington, know that Columbia Pike is a decaying stretch of diners, pawn shops, ethnic stores, check-cashing joints, and some office buildings. The area is largely inhabited by Hispanics and other minorities. Poor folks, trying hard to make a living. The kind who don’t buy their daily latte at Starbucks. And who don’t give a fig about light rail, and are not made of spun sugar so won’t melt in the rain waiting for a bus.
Nothing lasts forever, however, and over the past several years, there has been an influx of would-be hipsters, and a few places with a wannabe SoHo vibe opening. There goes the neighborhood.
Part of the hipster transformation, and our County’s Board is all about clueless twenty-somethings who will reliably vote Democrat, is to lure this demographic with urban dreams. Dreams which, to our Board, very much includes heinously overpriced bus stops and light rail in lieu of bus rapid transit.
But BRT is boring, doesn’t require decades of planning, and it’s versatile. Routes may be changed overnight to ease congestion. It doesn’t require years of construction on major arteries. But it also doesn’t require hundreds of millions (not an exaggeration, sadly) of taxpayer dollars. Hence, to our urbanitis-infected Board, it’s a non-starter.