Like a lot of us in Northern Virginia, I have been a commuter for decades, and I have tried all sorts of ways to get to work — some more exotic than others. I have driven by myself. That was sometimes agonizing beyond belief. I have paid the toll on the HOT lanes — seriously pricey but doable if the family just skips dinner a couple of days a week.
I was a faithful VRE rider for years. I have carpooled. I have taken a bus. And I have slugged. If you’re a hardcore commuter, you know that slugs are independent riders. They wait in a slug line for a driver to pick them in order to get in the HOT lanes as a carpool, which means there is no charge.
I once even took a helicopter. Well, not really, but I came close. I was working on Capitol Hill and the Marine Corps took some Capitol Hill staffers to Quantico by helicopter to watch an airshow and participate in some demonstrations.
When we were finished and it came it came time to helicopter back, I said my car was about a mile away at the Quantico Station and could I just walk there and drive home. I even showed them my reserve officer ID. But no luck, the officer in charge said he had to make sure we were safe from one end of the trip to the other, so back to D.C. by helicopter I went.
In terms of transportation, that just about covers the gamut. But wait, one thing is missing. I have never tried commuting by water, and the more I think about it the more it seems like an inspired idea…
…It’s not a new idea. The old AB&W Bus Company, the folks who ran the buses in the pre-subway days, looked at the idea. They thought it might be profitable.
They were going to run it farther up river where the population was dense. But the world has changed a lot since then. Millions of people now live farther south. Prince William and Stafford were backwaters in the 1960s, but today they’re major suburban centers.
So, maybe we’ve reached that critical mass where demand, interest and a provider come together.
That’s what Supervisor Frank Principi thinks. He represents the Woodbridge Magisterial District on the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. He’s been working on this notion — prodding, encouraging, gathering data and building a case — for several years. His model is a fast ferry that provides regularly scheduled service. Seattle, Boston, New York and San Francisco are good examples of cities where ferries are a part of commuting. So why not our region?
(Visit InsideNova for the full story, to include two sites identified for potential ferry terminals in Prince William County.)
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