Burke To the Editor:
On Jan.18, Burke Centre celebrated its two-year anniversary of being an Amtrak Station after a 42 year gap of being an intercity train stop. Over the past year, Burke has been Virginia’s fastest growing passenger station: up 125 percent for Nov. 2011. However, Burke is also the only station lacking Amtrak signs alerting potential customers along nearby roads of its existence and location. In order for even more visitors and residents to enjoy the huge benefits of Northeast passenger rail service, Fairfax County needs to push VDOT to speed up erection of the free signs that Amtrak has supplied.
These signs would increase riders and revenue and reduce subsidies for the high performing state-sponsored Lynchburg Train, take traffic off the nation’s most congested highways, and save individual visitors and residents hundreds of dollars in lower transportation and lodging costs. Visitors to DC can save hotel costs by staying at cheaper Fairfax lodgings. Residents can also save big bucks. For example, minimum travel costs round trip and one way travel times for an individual traveling from Fairfax to Roanoke (Southwest Virginia’s largest city and a great train holiday destination) are as follows: cheapest plane via Philadelphia ($473, 5.5 hrs); car ($242, 4.25 hrs), and 14 day train/new connecting bus ($66, 5.75 hrs). A single or couple could save enough travel costs via the train/bus to cover all or most of the lodging costs for a two night stay! Because the combo train/bus has wi-fi, this option is also the most productive one.
So, two years is long enough. Fairfax County needs to push VDOT to erect Burke Centre’s Amtrak signs now.
Dan Peacock, Member
Virginia Association of Railway Patrons