An Absolute Nightmare - 3/11/2008
One of the top-3 reasons I chose Lorton was it's proximity to the Virginia Railway Express at Lorton Station. The VRE is slow but determined, and will take you to work or the Smithsonian, Monday thru Friday. Except holidays. And don't forget to validate your ticket before boarding, or it's a $180 fine, no exceptions.
Amtrak's Auto-Train begins it's run to Orlando, Florida in Lorton. We used to take it all the time, but the last time we checked (2007), for 3 passenger berths and a Jeep, the one-way fare was almost $1800. Amtrak passenger stations are located 5 miles south, in Woodbridge, VA (limited service) and 15 miles north, in Alexandria VA.
Local and international air connections are available at Washington National and Dulles International airports (both about 25 miles from Lorton). There is no direct mass-transit to either airport from Lorton.
There is little neighborhood bus service except along the US 1 corridor. And it seems every bus from Lorton will eventually deposit you at the Pentagon or Springfield Metro stations. There, you can transfer to Washington's Metro system. Local taxi service is only "by call" and expensive.
"Slugging" is a popular (if desperate) transit option. This involves standing in a commuter lot and hooking up with unknown drivers for a lift into DC in the HOV lanes. (When I was a boy, we called this "hitch-hiking".)
Which leaves driving. Northern Virginia has a driving style unlike anywhere else. (And I'm a former NJ truck driver.) In a word: Rude. This is the result of a combination of drivers moving to Lorton from all over the world, bringing with them their regional road habits; and a "me-first" attitude, spawned by living high-pressure lives in this affluent Washington suburb. Running stop signs, ignoring school buses, and not signaling are the norm. The main north-south highway, I-95, is gridlocked from 6-9am and 4-7pm. US 1 is stoplight city. And the cross-county Fairfax Parkway goes nowhere useful. It's been almost enough to make this ol' truck driver turn in his license.[more...]