Editor: Mayor Kelly Burk’s State of the Town address included many accomplishments in the town, as well as her appointment to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. I especially appreciated Mayor Burk’s comments on the need for transit, bike and pedestrian trails.
Given very limited transportation funds, we need to look at improvements that expand transportation options for residents, commuters and businesses. It is critical to tie transportation projects to planning decisions that minimize the amount that people have to drive, which would enhance Northern Virginia’s quality of life and, not to mention, economic competitiveness. We should strive for parks and schools to be walkable. Public transportation systems should be accessible, and not just by commuter park and ride lots. People should be able to live, work and play in their local community.
Public transportation is important to me because it reduces the number of cars on the road. Did you know that in the Metropolitan Washington area, transportation ranks the second highest in global warming carbon pollution? Transit, whether the Loudoun commuter bus, Metro, or local bus service, takes cars off the road, reduces carbon pollution, and provides riders with hassle-free transportation.
Public transit is a necessity for the region and connects people—commuters, families, students, senior citizens, persons with disabilities—to college campuses, grocery stores, work, and hospitals.
Public transit is an economic driver. Companies like Amazon have made it clear that a thriving public transportation system is a top criteria for choosing where to locate their headquarters. Public transit use brings added benefits to improvements in local air quality and public health. Each year, public transportation use in the U.S. saves 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline, representing 4 million gallons of gasoline per day.
Investments in public transportation benefit all members of our region. I would like to see NVTA utilize public transportation, bicycle and pedestrian connections to relieve congestion. The most effective way to address traffic congestion is to build more walkable, mixed-use, transit-friendly communities. Building better communities also provides benefits for economic development and job creation, health, and the environment.
Now is the perfect time to embrace such communities in the Envision Loudoun update of Loudoun’s Comprehensive Plan. The plan will guide development in Loudoun County over the foreseeable future. It must be better for economic development, Loudoun residents, and the environment.
Natalie Pien, Leesburg