I am in my thirty-fifth year of service representing the 36th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. I am a retired teacher and school administrator, having been employed by the Fairfax County Public Schools for nearly 30 years. Serving as your delegate is now my full-time focus.

This website is intended to assist us in communicating with each other. I hope that you will subscribe to my electronic newsletter, Virginia e-News, that is emailed every Wednesday. Each week I share my thoughts on a pressing issue or human interest item in the form of a commentary. Read this week’s commentary below. In the newsletter you’ll also find a bulletin board of local information and a calendar of events happening in our community.

Please let me hear from you on your needs and interests. I am honored to represent you and here to serve you as effectively as I can.

Ken Plum.

Delegate Ken Plum’s Commentary

Ways to Go

September 30, 2015

Photo of bus

One of the early rites of passage for me and those of my generation was to get a driver’s license. I was pleased to run errands for the family, and my parents were generous in allowing me to use the family car for school and social events. Now I understand that about a fourth of millennials are not even bothering to get a driver’s license. And when you consider how many communities are developing by transit oriented development (TOD) principles, there is less of a need to own or lease an automobile. These shifts in living patterns have significant public policy implications.

Already with the opening of the Silver Line to Reston East I have another alternative for my travels. Within a year residents in the new apartments under construction by Comstock at Reston East Station will be able to take the elevator down to the plaza to the bus to Dulles on the Silver Line to points east including Maryland. For weekend travel, a Zipcar or other hourly rentals are available, and a bicycle provides good healthy exercise. A new hourly car rental system allows you to leave the car at your destination without the need to return it to where you picked it up. Some suggest that the driver-less vehicle is not that far in the distant future, and with the rapid advances I have seen in recent times I believe them. The traditional taxi system got a jolt with the introduction of Uber and other companies that use drivers and their own automobiles to transport passengers. The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation this year to establish a legal framework under which the companies can provide service to consumers in a safe and legal way. I would guess that there is likely to be a melding of these two businesses in the future to provide more convenient car ridesharing.

In the short run I understand the interests of persons dependent upon automobile travel that our roadway surfaces be repaired and that traffic congestion be reduced. We suffer from more than a decade of refusal on the part of the legislature to provide adequate funding for highway construction and repair. During that time I co-sponsored and voted for many bills only to see them defeated. Technological advances are helping to reduce congestion with better traffic light systems and with regulated traffic systems as has just been introduced on I-66.

These improvements must take into account the bigger picture of transportation. Road improvements must include bicycle travel lanes. Mass transit will need subsidy just as our roads are subsidized. Public and private incentives need to be offered for car-pooling, and the use of transit. TOD must be given priority. Our public policy on transportation must recognize that there are many different ways to go.

For previous commentaries, visit the Virginia e-News archives.