Having lived in Washington, DC, for several years before returning home to Loudoun, I feel obligated to respond to some of the more ridiculous attacks on the Silver Line that have been put forward in the past week. For four years in Washington, I attended a university in the city and rode the Orange Line – the same route that the Silver Line will take – nearly every single day. Not once was I attacked on the Metro or in a station, nor was I ever shaken down by Metro police, nor did I ever feel at all in any kind of danger. Looking back on it, my experience with the Metro seems pretty dull when compared with the fictitious “crime train” that opponents like to paint it as.
The idea that Metro will somehow import crime to Loudoun is patently absurd. Do people really imagine that criminals will commute, by train, right past Arlington and Falls Church, out to Loudoun to commit their crimes? Why don’t they already take the bus? There has never been any case of “commuting criminals” – that is, a significant amount of crime imported to a suburban area specifically because of the introduction of public transit – in Washington or anywhere else that I’m aware of. These fears are pure snobbery and xenophobia masquerading as genuine concern and the lowest form of political discussion possible..
Or rather, is it assumed that developing Loudoun will result in more homegrown crime? That is equally asinine. Bringing the Silver Line to Loudoun would increase our gross county product, not our crime rate. By infusing tens of thousands of jobs and nearly doubling the rate of growth of our GCP with the development that the Silver Line will enable, the last thing that will increase in Loudoun is crime.
One particularly loud rail opponent wrote recently, “…the Washington Merto [sic] is anything but romantic, unless your idea of romance is being trapped in a closed space with a bunch of thugs who know they have power over you.” What this reads like, to me, is, “We don’t have a good argument against Metro so we’ll try to scare folks instead.” Riding the Metro isn’t romantic, but it is a safe, convenient and cost-effective means of commuting, and, for all of my time riding through the same stops Silver Line will visit, the vast majority people with whom I’ve ever been “trapped in a closed space” were professionals in suits and ties.
Want to know who will accompany you on the Silver Line to and from Washington? Look around tomorrow morning as you’re sitting in traffic.
Loudoun will not get another chance at rail. We have the option to set Loudoun on the economic fast track or condemn ourselves to miserable traffic congestion and slow development for good. This investment has been 40 years in the making and the last thing we should do is deny Loudoun’s economic future for ourselves and for our children by giving in to ignorant fear mongering.