Local Commentary

Editorial: Mad Fox & GEORGE

With the imminent opening of the Mad Fox Brewing Company, which could become among the City of Falls Church’s most popular retail establishments, it becomes important to reconsider again the role of the City’s failing local bus system, GEORGE. Left to its current underperforming role, GEORGE is unlikely to survive the current three-month reprieve from the funding ash can.

Against the City Manager’s recommendation last spring to completely ax the system, which has grievously underperformed and has been a major net cost to taxpayers since its induction in the early 2000s, the City Council decided to fund one additional quarter of the current fiscal year to allow a final stab at effectively reforming the program. It has funding through September, only.

While the business community originally saw in GEORGE an opportunity to lure customers off the Metro rail system into downtown Falls Church, already-pampered residents in neighborhoods around the City insisted the system’s routes be arranged to come by their front doors. So, the system lacked a focus from the outset, and was doomed from day one. Instead of being geared to capturing a target market of riders to benefit the City’s bottom line, it only provided yet another optional luxury to a handful among the City’s tiny residential population of 11,700, nowhere near a sufficient market to be sustainable.

But now the Mad Fox Brewing Company, located on W. Broad equidistant from the East and West Falls Church Metro rail stations, joins the chorus of City business crying out for a dedicated customer shuttle service from one of those Metro stations (East F.C. is best) operating in a tight loop, running from evening rush hour to the last Metro train out of the station, that can be promoted as an easy, efficient way for folks from throughout the greater D.C. Metro region to patronize the State Theatre, the growing density of action around the Broad and Washington intersection, the Mad Fox, the Bangkok Blues and so forth.

This can also help to encourage sales of the new condominium projects en route. As for the City’s residents in single-family neighborhoods, they will have a ride from the Metro to a drop-off location on W. Broad to get the home, or to head to downtown D.C. for the evening in the same fashion. Mind you, either GEORGE finds a way to make itself fiscally beneficial in a manner like this, or it will simply cease to exist at all.

The plans for the coming mixed use development, and diminished auto parking, around the East F.C. Metro station is also a major impetus for retooling GEORGE in this fashion. A robust GEORGE, with its promise of adding to, not subtracting from, F.C.’s bottom line will help not only businesses, but F.C.’s residents to cope with the new East F.C. Metro reality.