There could be some ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ as the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC) fights to save bus service in Prince William County.
Currently the PRTC is facing a $9.2 million budget shortfall, starting July 1, that could gut bus service and hike fares even more than their current rate, unless funding is found.
A few weeks ago people came in out in droves to speak about saving the bus service at multiple public hearings, and it appears that local and state government may have listened.
According to PRTC Interim Executive Director Eric Marx, following guidance from the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, the Acting County Executive Christopher Martino was able to add $6 million in funding for PRTC in the county’s proposed budget.
“This was achieved by dedicating all motor fuels tax revenue to PRTC and separately funding the Virginia Railway Express (VRE). If adopted, this would eliminate bus and rail competition for the same pot of funds and make major progress toward closing PRTC’s $9.2 million average annual budget shortfall,” stated Marx.
While this is a good sign, Marx cautioned that just because the $6 million is listed in the budget proposal, does not mean that it’s a done deal.
“…understand Supervisors will have many budget discussions over the next two months before voting. And, even if the budget is approved as proposed, PRTC still needs multi-year stable funding or we’ll be in the same place next year,” stated Marx.
In addition to some potential on the county side, there may also be assistance coming from state government. According to Marx, Virginia’s State Senate passed a bill last week that would restore the revenue PRTC has lost from the motor fuels tax, which is PRTC’s major funding source.
The motor fuels tax revenue has plummeted as gas prices have done down, which has hurt PRTC’s bottom line.
“Senate Bill 742 restores funding by creating a tax floor indexed to the statewide average price of motor fuels on February 20, 2013 – the same date the state used for its own gas tax,” stated Marx.
But again, there’s no guarantee on this funding, as the House of Delegates needs to consider the bill in their own Finance Committee and pass it through the House, before it would become law, according to Marx.
While the public hearings for PRTC have already passed, Marx said that there is still time to submit your written comments up through February 23. To submit your comments, go to PRTC’s public hearings page.
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