Schwartz says he believes transit is the best way to solve congestion problems. Hamilton says carpooling and rapid bus service with limited stops along the Express Lanes would encourage transit. But Schwartz counters that similar promises about new rapid bus service were made regarding the 495 and 95 Express Lanes and neither actually happened.
Virginia officials have been saying for a long time that the traffic problems on I-66 are so bad that no single relief program will be sufficient. The toll revenue can raise money for other programs that could help get commuters out of their cars and open more highway space. Those efforts can include extra bus service and enhanced commuter lots.
He says it’ll induce more drivers to commute long-distance alone. He also says VDOT has made promises about providing robust bus service on the 495 and 95 express lanes but neither have come to fruition. “If they consider rapid bus service as a top justification for the project, then we expect guarantees that VDOT will fund rapid bus service in the corridor. They’ve failed to do it on the 495 and 95 Express Lane deals,” says Schwartz.
The state’s plans for an environmental assessment come as transportation officials are also moving forward on improvements outside the Beltway — plans that include building new high-occupancy toll roads in place of HOV lanes, creating space for rail and implementing other traffic-calming measures.
While HOT lanes in the peak hour merit study along with HOV in both directions and transit, HOT lanes may still lead to too many cars trying to fight their way into D.C. or the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor. The focus should be on moving the most people at the peak hour, and transit offers the best opportunity to do that