Recently, I have found a new alternative way to get to Washington D.C. without driving. I can take a bus not far from home to the closest metro station, and from there I can reach anywhere in the capital by subway. I am thrilled about my discovery. After all, public transportation is poor where I live. It is unpleasant to get stuck in the heavy traffic on Route 66, which probably is the busiest highway in the United States. Having lived in a big city in China for many years, I am more comfortable with public transportation than driving.
However, disappointingly, the free parking lots in Fairfax County around the metro stations and bus stops are limited. The demand is always higher than supply. On one Wednesday morning at around 8:30, I drove to the bus stop parking lot, which is about one and a half mile away. To my surprise, it was completely full. A couple of cars were like mine, cruising around to look for a slim chance. At that moment, I began to feel I was in a lost competition. I would imagine a commuter must have felt that stress, starting from the beginning of the day. Only the very early bird would be likely to get a parking space. But there is no guarantee. No wonder people start traveling at four a.m. to work so as to beat the traffic, or to get a free parking space.
What I don’t understand is why the department of transportation does not increase parking space and bus schedules to the D.C. metro. There are assigned parking lots that are not fully used because the MetroBus does not stop there frequently. And the parking lot that I wanted to use and that the MetroBus stops frequently can only accommodate 385 free parking spaces. As the Washington D.C. metropolitan population is growing, bettering the public transportation service is the best solution to relieve the traffic in this region.
On my latest trip to Guangzhou, China, my hometown city, I found there are ten metro lines as opposed to three lines three years ago. As a result, there are more bus routes that connect the metro stations. Public transportation is essential to city dwellers. But in America, people rely too much on cars. Before I came to America, I heard so much praise about carpooling. I thought America was a carpooling society. But to see is to believe. Based on my observation, eight out of ten commuters in northern Virginia that go to work by car ride alone. I am afraid the traffic in this region is in a poor cycle—deficient parking spaces that connect public transportation leads to the increase of vehicles on the road. As a result, the traffic will be paralyzed.