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A Bus Stop For the Price of a Bus Terminal

by Dan Barrett / /

I live in Arlington, Virginia, a tiny county that happens to be right next to our nation’s capitol. One of the many reasons I live there is that the state of Virginia seems to have a much better handle on spending and the size of government, especially when compared to neighboring Maryland and Washington DC. So much so that the state had a $220 million surplus back in July. There are other great benefits to living in Arlington including amazing food trucks, access to the Metro system, and Arlington Cemetery. BUT the county seems to want people to be impressed with a piece of nondescript concrete a mere 6 blocks from where I live. It’s a bus stop. It cost $1 million and I’m not the only one who paid for it. You did too.

According to Arlington Now, the county just completed the “Super Stop,” which is the first of 24 such advanced bus pickup points with a shelter for “some 15 passengers, lighting, an electronic display that shows when the next buses are coming, and a number of unbranded newspaper boxes.” It took a year and a half to construct. An Arlington County spokeswoman reported that $575,000 was spent for construction and $440,000 went towards management and inspections. First point: I am not read up on the intricacies of Arlington and Virginia building codes but if just a forth of the latter amount ($110,000) was spent on inspections then this is a serious case of overregulation.

Now to what all of this has to do with you taxpayers across the country. The county paid $200,000 for the glorified street corner and got the remaining $815,000 from the Virginia Department of Transportation, who in turn will get $996.9 million federal funds for road infrastructure projects in FY 2013. Second point: According to Reed Construction Data and their 2008 numbers, it costs an average $1.294 million to construct a basic 12,000 square foot single-story bus terminal using union labor. To clarify, it is conceivable that Arlington County could have built a terminal with the costs of this single bus stop. I estimate that the bus stop is around 180 square feet but, even if it was double that (360 sq ft), they spent $2,828 per square foot.