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Let's take another look at our subsidies for VRE

 The number of commuters who use the VRE is disproportionately small.
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Date published: 12/2/2012

The redirection of federal funds from Virginia Railway Express to the state government offers an excellent opportunity to more equitably and economically address regional mass transportation issues.

Long the golden child of certain local politicians, with ever-increasing expenses heavily subsidizing a disproportionately small share of commuters, and now the subject of state investigations, VRE could surely use some belt-tightening--just like the rest of us.

Instead of rubber-stamping that $10 mil- lion back to VRE, our leaders should make VRE compete for public funding along with other forms of mass transportation--perhaps on a ridership proportional basis. Instead of political spin, force VRE to prove itself the better choice for riders by rider count--VRE against van pools and buses, for example. These popular forms of mass transportation would be strongly encouraged through equitable subsidies. Local bus transportation, long struggling for dollars, would likely get a boost.

Such a redirection will be met with howls of outrage from the relatively few heavily subsidized VRE riders, the developers who stand to make a ton of money off the land they've grabbed around VRE stations, and, of course, from VRE, itself--the spoiled child can always be counted on the squeal the loudest.

If our state politicians have the courage our local leaders apparently lack, not only will we see a more efficient, more self-supporting VRE, but growth in other means of mass transportation--to everyone's advantage--not just VRE supporters.

Howard E. Rice Jr.