You’re Probably Not Using Arlington’s Public Transit. That’s a Bad Thing.

You’re Probably Not Using Arlington’s Public Transit. That’s a Bad Thing.

More than one quarter of Arlington’s residents use public transportation daily, yet very few students attending Yorktown do. It is absurd that our school’s students fail to utilize our local public transportation system. We are wasting a valuable tool that could be benefiting countless students.

Despite its minute size, our county is home to a vast network of reliable public transportation. Arlington houses four Metrorail (Metro) lines spanning the entire county, reaching 11 stations, 37 Metrobus routes and 16 Arlington Rapid Transit (ART) bus routes. Within a 10 minute walking radius of our school, students can access six bus routes reaching Ballston, East Falls Church, McLean, Tysons Corner, Shirlington, Rosslyn and Country Club Hills. Not only that, the ART 52 line, which goes through much of northern Arlington, has a stop at our school’s front entrance. 

Arlington’s public transit system is not just expansive; it is also exceedingly reliable. ART buses and Metro train cars arrive every 15 minutes on most routes, and Metro’s blue line (which currently runs from Maryland, through downtown Washington DC, Rosslyn and National Landing to Reagan National Airport) runs every seven minutes. The Washington Metropolitan Area is widely considered to have one of the all-around best transit systems in the United States.

But, here’s the kicker: students are able to use some public transit for free. As of August 29th, 2022, students using an iRide card can ride the ART bus without charge. This policy was implemented to increase accessibility and incentivize public transportation, and it should. The ability to move throughout the county free of charge without relying on friends or family enables independence and is immensely freeing for high school students. Even if students can access a car and have a driver’s license, public transportation is significantly cheaper than the ridiculous costs of driving overall once initial cost, insurance, gas, maintenance and parking are taken into consideration.

Using public transportation, however, is not just easy on the wallet. It is easy on the conscience as well. According to the University of California, Los Angeles, using public transportation can reduce carbon emissions by 45% as opposed to using a car. Considering that humanity is in the midst of a global climate catastrophe, the reduction of carbon emissions is crucial. However, this environmental perk isn’t even close to the only benefit of using public transit. Local communities benefit too. 

Driving does an absolute disservice to communities; it is unavailable to many students and affects the very atmosphere of our community. Air and noise pollution are issues that progress each day, as Arlington residents travel by car throughout the county. New research continually shows that car-oriented cities and communities are generally more likely to experience accidents as opposed to communities that utilize public transportation. Private vehicles are significantly more dangerous than traveling by bus, with a crash rate nearly 23 times greater than that of buses. Research also shows that using public transit can result in lower anxiety levels and reductions in chronic back and leg pain. Aside from personal health benefits, mass transportation reduces the number of private vehicles on the road, leading to significantly clearer travel. There are innumerable benefits to using public transportation.

Yet, Arlington students are choosing not to ride the wonderful resource available to them. There are a variety of reasons students choose not to use public transportation, but most hinge upon baseless stereotypes about safety, cost, and efficiency. 

Students often feel tentative about riding the bus, due largely to safety and time concerns. However, between lower crash rates and reduced traffic, the bus is an amazing resource. 

Lack of awareness is another reason students aren’t using public transit. Arlington Public Schools (APS) does not promote the resource. Without advertised information about the resource, many students don’t even realize there is a bus system, or that it is free. 

While some students choose not to use public transit, many aren’t making that choice for themselves. Some parents are concerned with the safety of public transportation. While the public bus system may seem daunting, there is no evidence that the ART Bus is any more dangerous than other public spaces. Online, the ART website offers safety tips and resource numbers. Considering the resources on hand and the general safety of Northern Arlington, banning children from taking advantage of the ART Bus would be inane. It is important to make sure you’re taking the correct precautions when riding the bus. 

 So, start riding the bus. It’ll do wonders for you, our community and the world.

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About the Contributors
Reese Colbert, Head Editor
Reese Colbert is a senior and a Head Editor for The Sentry. She is excited for her second year on staff. In her free time, Reese enjoys reading and painting. Her favorite book is The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. After school, Reese works as a cashier/froster at Nothing Bundt Cakes. She can’t wait to work with all of the reporters and photographers this year to produce great articles!
Elijah Dale, Head Editor
Elijah is a senior heading into his fourth year with The Sentry and first as Head Editor. He loves to tell you the whowhatwherewhywhenandhow, especially if there’s an investigative story behind it all. Elijah is obsessed with local urban policy, so if he’s probably reading irrelevant 200-page county budget plans or transcribing interviews. Otherwise, you might find Elijah at a local rock climbing gym, the philosophy section at a used bookstore or working at a farmer’s market. Elijah is more than excited for another year on staff!

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