Washington Dulles is a terrible airport

Washington Dulles airport won’t be getting rail access any time soon, as a special tax to finance the measure was unanimously voted down.

    The transit tax district, which would have imposed a 20 percent real estate tax increase on commercial properties along the train route, was to have generated Fairfax County’s share of the project’s cost. But the Town Council’s rejection of the tax district in Herndon, on a 6 to 0 vote, effectively kills the tax district across the county and opens a $540 million hole in the financing scheme designed by state and local leaders.

More than $38 million has been spent just to plan the 23 miles of rail. Property owners along the proposed rail line were being asked to foot the project bill, even though many of them would never see rail access themselves and the primary beneficiaries of the metro extension are folks closer in to the city.

Dulles is just a terrible airport to fly in and out of. It’s highly inaccessible from the DC city proper, requiring either a 45 minute drive (without traffic) or a longer, tortuous combination of train and bus.

And once a passenger makes it all the way out to Dulles, a passenger must still take “mobile lounges” (SUVs on steroids) across acrive taxiways to midfield terminals. This process can take 25 minutes after completing checkin and passing through security. (Security delays, not to mention customs delays, are among the worst in the country at Dulles – an issue for another day.)

The inconvenience is compounded by restrictions both on the number of takeoffs and landings at the closer-in Reagan National airport and the idiotic restriction on the maximum distance that flights departing National airport may travel.

My own view is that funds would be better spent expanding National airport, but local resident complaints about noise will prevent that from ever happening.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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