Jarret Walker: Empty Buses Serve a Purpose
Most transit agencies have been through some version of this scenario: In one part of the city, buses drive around stuffed like sardine tins, while elsewhere they can be all but empty. Car drivers mock the empty buses in low-density parts of the city. Some elected official picks up the banner, demanding that the transit agency stop flagrantly wasting taxpayer money by running these money-losing routes. If you hear echoes of the federal fight over Amtrak, you’re not going crazy — it’s the exact same conversation. And it merits the exact same answer. As transit consultant Jarrett Walker, the mind behind the Human Transit book and blog, sees it, every transit agency needs to make a trade-off between ridership and coverage. The agency can focus on routes with high ridership — which makes the most sense environmentally and financially — but then large swaths of the area will have no service at all. It simply doesn’t make fiscal sense to serve low-density areas, or areas without a complementary pedestrian network, with transit. Not enough people will ride it.
On March 15, Paul J. Wiedefeld, general manager of the Washington Metro, ordered the unprecedented shutdown of the entire rail system — which includes 91 stations, 117 miles of track and provided 206 million trips last year — for emergency safety inspections. The cause was an early morning electrical fire in a tunnel at McPherson Square Station that he said was “disturbingly similar” to a fire more than a year prior at L’Enfant Plaza that killed one passenger and injured 90 others. That fire was the result of arcing electrical cables that had been improperly installed without sealing sleeves, according to Christopher Hart, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY
The Prince William County leaders are poised to cut more than $9 million in expected local funding from their 95 local schools next year, in part to offer modest bonuses to police and firefighters. A special salary boost for public-safety officers was among the ideas the county Board of Supervisors tentatively approved Tuesday in a series of nonbinding straw votes taken on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2017, which begins July 1. Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, R-Brentsville, suggested reducing the county’s revenue-sharing agreement, which for the last few years has directed 57.23 percent of general-fund tax revenue to local schools, to a flat 57 percent.
The Post analysis, based on data from Black Knight Financial Services spanning 2004 through 2015, shows how the nation’s housing recovery has exacerbated inequality, leaving behind many Americans of moderate means. It also helps explain why the economic recovery feels incomplete, especially in neighborhoods where the value of housing — often the biggest family asset — has recovered little, if at all. While a typical single-family home has gained less than 14 percent in value since 2004, homes in the most expensive neighborhoods have gained 21 percent. Regional factors such as the Western energy boom explain some differences, but in many cities the housing market’s arc has deepened disparities between the rich and everyone else, such as in Boston, where gentrifying urban neighborhoods have thrived and far-flung suburbs have fallen behind. Also striking is how minority neighborhoods lag in the recovery. Zip codes where blacks are the largest population group are more than twice as likely as white Zip codes to have homes now worth less than in 2004.
A person doesn’t become a hoarder overnight. “It takes time to be a really good hoarder,” said Matt Paxton, author of “The Secret Lives of Hoarders,” who was the lunch speaker Monday at the Governor’s Conference on Aging. About 400 people attended the event, presented by the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services at the Hilton Richmond Hotel and Spa in western Henrico County. Paxton, a Chesterfield County native and founder of Clutter Cleaner, has appeared as the cleaning expert in 68 episodes of the television show, “Hoarders.” The documentary series debuted in 2009 on the Arts & Entertainment network depicting real-life trials of people who suffer from the compulsive disorder.
If there’s one things absolutely everybody knows about urban politics, it’s that nobody wants low-income housing built in their neighborhood. Breaking up concentrations of poverty by building subsidized housing in affluent areas sounds like a great idea, but rich people veto it. So instead we build it in neighborhoods that are already lower-income and disenfranchised, where it creates further burdens on already troubled places. So when possible, poor neighborhoods also veto creating new low-income housing – which leaves the very poorest residents with nowhere to go. Except a study from Rebecca Diamond and Timothy McQuade of Standford Business School finds that fear of building low-income housing in poor neighborhoods is entirely misplaced.
Stewart running for governor, taking cues from Trump
Corey Stewart is running for governor in 2017. He’s positioning himself as a Donald Trump-like candidate who will say whatever he wants, who means what he says, and, if elected, does what he means. Stewart since December has led the effort in Virginia to get Trump elected, serving as his statewide campaign coordinator — crisscrossing the state campaigning for the billionaire. Many have said Stewart aligned himself with Trump to be a better-looking candidate, as the ideal conservative for an eventual run for the state’s highest office. They were correct.
Justin E. Fairfax, a lawyer who nearly captured the Democratic nomination for attorney general in 2013, has filed to seek the party’s nomination for lieutenant governor next year. Fairfax is the first Democrat who has filed to seek the post. Three Republican candidates have announced bids for lieutenant governor: state Sens. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Fauquier, and Bryce E. Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, and Del. Glenn R. Davis Jr., R-Virginia Beach.
Government Affairs Coordinator