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Thursday, August 11, 2022
FairfaxOpinionEditorial: Fairfax leaders doing it right on bus plan

Editorial: Fairfax leaders doing it right on bus plan

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’Tis true that our praise of the Fairfax County government on this page is not an everyday occurrence, but when local leaders do something right, they deserve positive reinforcement.

(We’ll just pretend they’re like an obedient Labrador retriever: “Who’s a good local government? You are! Yes you are, yes you are! Good local government!”)

A recent discussion of local leaders’ plans to begin using electric buses for the Fairfax Connector fleet was notable for the restraint involved, and the acknowledgement that there are a lot of unknowns.

As indeed there are; at the moment, diesel buses, which represent the backbone of the Fairfax Connector fleet, have a proven reliability quotient. Zero-emission buses do not, and until the technology improves significantly, the local government and taxpayers who support it need to be cautious about rushing higgledy-piggledy into uncharted territory. (In the aircraft-accident-investigation field, such behavior ends up with the descriptor CFIT, or controlled flight into terrain. At least when it comes to airplanes, it’s a quick and relatively painless way to meet one’s maker.)

Take it slow, Fairfax, let others be on the cutting edge and therefore more susceptible to bleeding. Swoop in when the time is right, and we’ll all be better off.

• • •

On the same topic, we have yet MORE praise for the recent discussion among county leaders on the topic, for they mentioned something that proponents of a headlong rush to electric vehicles often leave out of the discussion.

Moving to zero-emission buses, officials acknowledged with surprising candor, is likely to increase pressure on the electrical grid, which has plenty of resiliency and reliability problems on the best of days. Just ask those stuck without hope of escape in Third World cesspools like Venezuela or California.

Every action has a separate and equal reaction, we remember from science class in high school. Lowering dependence on fossil fuels is indeed the right long-term strategy, but let’s just be smart about unintended consequences as we all feel our way in the dark to the future.

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