Monday, March 25, 2013

A Short Stop at Arlington County's Costly First Super Station

The first of a string of 24 Super Stops for Arlington (VA) opened on March 11th at the intersection of Columbia Pike at Walter Reed Drive.  Construction on this bus shelter began in September 2011 and only recently was completed.  

Construction took 18 months longer than anticipated because of lengthy environmental impact statements. 

This shelter  is supposed to have room for ten to 15 commuters in a lit and heated shelter that  provides real time electronic and printed schedules as well as future ticketing for the estimated 16,000 commuters a day.   This first Super Station is thought to be perfectly positioned to promote ethnic restaurants as well as a fledgling night life.  

This little construction project only cost a cool $1 Million.  In fact, upon hearing the cost for the Super Station, one incensed citizen exclaimed “What? That’s ridiculous. From a citizen, from a voter, whoever put that budget through needs to get their butt canned. It’s an outrage.”

This new super costly Super station  does not even provide full protection against the elements.  Arlington County Board Member Libby Garvey (D) observed that:

[The bus shelter is] pretty, but I was struck by the fact that if it’s pouring rain, I’m going to get wet, and if it’s cold, the wind is going to be blowing on me. It doesn’t seem to be a shelter. It doesn’t really shelter you very much . . . you can get pretty soaked in two minutes. 

Anticipating the public protest over the cost of the prototype Super Station, Arlington County officials proclaimed that the bus stop was an investment in the future.


While government officials should be commended for forward thinking, they must be certain that their thinking outside of the box will be embraced by their constituents, that the project is not pork barrel crony capitalism and that the future funding for running and maintaining these services do not break the backs of their taxpayers.  The Portland Oregon paradigm of cozy construction contracts, inflated operating expenses from gilded municipal union contracts and  uncertain external funding should offer cause for pause. 


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