I saw a political article in a news medium on an internal Herndon trolley or bus system. The acronym was HITS. When I first saw HITS, my baseball background came up and I thought of batting averages – you know the number of ‘hits’ divided by the number of at-bats. Not the case for this HITS.
But no, it meant Herndon Internal Transportation System. And its co-authors, a former council member who is no longer a Town resident and the current Vice Mayor, first raised it up as something the Town should bring into being – AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE. It was pitched to the Town Council and to the Planning Commission. The Chamber of Commerce jumped onboard the ‘bus’ and supported the idea of the Town providing this service AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE –to move folks around Town to bring them to businesses. I noted that even one civic-minded developer encouraged the Town to establish a HITS. If I was a business operator and someone would provide transportation of customers to my door at THEIR expense, I’d support it too!
I raised a cautionary flag to the Town Council that the Town could not and should not even consider creating such a system. Three separate working groups, headed by Council members over a couple of decades, have indicated such an internal ‘trolley’ or bus system could not be supported by ridership. I agree with the studies. I also suggested that the Town work with the county to use the county bus system (Connector) to move residents and customers through Town to/from the metro landing (when it’s in place) and the other economic hubs in Town. I thought the concept of inter-modal bus service through the Fairfax County Connector service had been accepted. Silly me.
Virtually all public transportation systems – including the Metro and the Connector - are subsidized by us taxpayers. In other words, taxpayers pick up all of the capital costs (buying vehicles, etc.) and part of the ongoing cost of operating them. Otherwise, the fares that would have to be charged would simply be too high and there would be few if any riders. The systems would fail.
The county has been serving the Town with bus routes for several years to include service to/from the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride and thence to West Falls Church and the Metro Orange Line. In recent years, costs have caused the county to DECREASE service in Herndon as the ridership didn’t warrant the level of service being provided.
If establishing and operating a HITS is such a benefit, I strongly urge the proponents to start one – using their private sector funds and to reap the financial benefits that such a system might bring to them. Leave the Herndon taxpayers out of this and let Town leaders work to incorporate proper Fairfax County service to/from the Metro stop when it’s ready to operate.
A taxpayer-funded HITS is a ‘miss’ for Herndon taxpayers.