Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Kaine's Virginia Beach Transportation Town Hall Meeting

The Virginian-Pravda beat me up with the story http://hamptonroads.com/2008/06/gov-kaine-pushes-transportation-plan-virginia-beach-town-hall-meeting Then, the reporter didn't have to take Route 20 across town afterwards to get home.

Sitting in the second row on the left side were Eileen Levandoski of VBDems.org, Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) Transportation Chairman Reid Greenmun, HR Transit Ideas Michael Ragsdale, and I. (Ragsdale met Mike Barrett on Monday, then Greenmun on Tuesday.)

Statistic Of The Night: Transportation Spending As A Percentage Of Personal Income. Nationwide the average is 1.29%, but Virginia is only 1.10%.

In was the third Town Hall Meeting I've attended held by Governor Kaine, but he has yet to call on me at question time. I wanted to ask him why the Northern Virginia Package has Virginia Railway Express (VRE) and Metro money, but the Hampton Roads Package has zero mass transit money.

Governor Kaine gave two reasons for using a Sales Tax increase for Transportation rather than the Gasoline Tax. One, gas prices are already high. Two, many legislators oppose using the Gasoline Tax, so depending on it could kill the entire plan.

Humorous moments of the night:

1. When the slide came up for the three components of the Plan, pictured was Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) Bus 921. The hitch is that it's an Orion, the oldest of the forty-foot models in HRT's Southside fleet. (Rustbucket!)

2. After all his whining online the past few days, I offered Reid a box of Kleenex after the meeting was over. (He grinned and turned them down.)

Personally, I could support Governor Kaine's Plan if a regional Gasoline Tax replaced the regional Sales Tax in the Hampton Roads Package.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry I didn't come up and introduce myself, but maybe that's a good thing? I'm moving with my brother out of state - he has military orders and he's the only family I have. The orders came just today. I would continue to lobby for expanded mass transit in Hampton Roads if I was staying. For the most part, I really liked the area including its hidden gems. My brother Aaron and I will be leaving in a couple of weeks for Boston, Mass.

I will still try to be a "regular" on this blog and report back on some of the things Boston does (I hear nothing but praise for public transit up there - guess we'll find out soon).

With this, I wish to say my goodbyes to everyone I know in Hampton Roads. I will really miss you.

Michael Ragsdale said...

Well, I guess it's goodbye then. As a native New Englander (Newport, Rhode Island) who's been to Boston a few times, I'll give you this advice:

MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority) is the public transit operator in Boston. The subway is known as "the T" and is very popular. There's extensive bus service as well. The Silver Line is their Bus Rapid Transit (one of the ideas HRT was thinking about for the Oceanfront before settling on the Hybrid Shuttles). To be honest, I've only been on the Green Line T between Boston Commons (Park St station) and Science Park. My mother and I got lost and she figured to park at the Commons and ride the T to Science Park for the Science Museum.

If you ever decide to visit my home town of Newport (The City by the Sea), your best bet is to take MBTA commuter rail to Providence, RI and walk to Kennedy Plaza. Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) bus route 60 takes you straight to Newport's Gateway for $1.50 a ride. Driving in Newport is too much of a hassle.

If you're flying to Boston (or you have visitors coming to see you), may I suggest T.F. Green State Airport in Warwick (commonly incorrectly considered to be in Providence - RI natives like myself will vigorously defend the airport is in Warwick) over Boston's Logan. Coming in 2009 (I think), MBTA commuter rail will run to the airport and it beats driving to Boston any day. Please, do your research. Important websites:

* www.ripta.com: Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) providing bus service all over the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
* www.mbta.com: Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) providing bus, subway, light rail, BRT, and commuter rail for Boston. Includes commuter rail extending all the way to RI

I guess it's time to say goodbye. You will be missed.