Who said…

…”If you do it the right way, you’ll get more in value than what you put into it”?

Answer: Chris Zimmerman, member of the Arlington County Board, as reported by the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star on June 6.  He was speaking about VRE subsidies by local counties, encouraging Spottsylvania County to start funding VRE through the $0.02/gallon gas tax authorized by the General Assembly.

Arlington supports VRE financially, but Zimmerman claims the county has zero (yes, zip) VRE riders.  Why would elected local officials invest in a transit system that their constituents don’t use?

The short answer is that VRE gets commuters off the highway, so residents of Prince William/Fairfax create less congestion and air pollution in Arlington. Transportation is a regional problem requiring regional solutions, and Arlington is pulling its share of the weight.

The back story is that Arlington has gotten rich off transit.  The Metro corridors, after 30 years of redevelopment, have become cash cows for Arlington.  Commercial property tax payments from the Orange and Blue line corridors are funding high-quality county services, while keeping residential property taxes low for voters.

Lesson to be learned by Prince William: focus growth next to transit stations.  “Zimmerman advised communities joining VRE to develop a mix of housing, retail and offices within a quarter-mile of a station. That way, the community can recoup in tax revenue any VRE-related expenses that it cannot pay using the 2 percent gas tax, and possibly earn more.”

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