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Martino finds hope amid transit funding crisis

There is hope for Prince William County’s bus system.

County officials said it can fund the $9.2 million budget shortfall looming over the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC) in fiscal year 2017, that begins July 1.

Prince William Acting County Executive Christopher Martino proposed using half of a $12 million of a pot of state money given to the county from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) for local road construction projects, to fund Virginia Railway Express.

That would leave the full pot of revenues generated in Prince William County by the state’s motor fuels tax solely for PRTC.

The commuter bus agency will continue to face a $10.5 million budget shortfall ($2.1 million each year between 2018 and 2022). The county stopped providing motor fuels tax general funding to PRTC in 2008, and the agency was forced to rely on a fuels tax reserve fund that built up when fuel prices were sky high. (more…)

News
Crews hitting streets before snow showers, bitter cold sets in

Snow showers should pass through the region this evening. While the showers will be light in nature, we all remember what happened last time the forecast called for “light snow.” 

The snow should move through this evening late into the afternoon rush hour. Crews with the Virginia Department of Transportation will deploy snow plows to treat the roads early this afternoon, said VDOT Northern Virginia spokeswoman Jennifer McCord. 

Crews will also monitor conditions and treat roads where necessary in the Fredericksburg region, too. Stafford County is included in this region. (more…)

News
Transit crisis comes as bus loads lighter, drivers leaving

prtcmeeting

Morale among bus drivers at the region’s commuter transit agency is low.

It’s the kind of mood you would expect from employees if your bosses, the heads of the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation, are heard in public, and in the media talking about a “doomsday scenario” where operations as you know them could come to an end.

It’s no joke that PRTC faces a $9.2 million budget shortfall every year over the next five years. If state and local leaders don’t find the money, the transit system that thousands of residents, federal workers, and carpoolers (Slugs as they’re called in Northern Virginia) rely on could be blown up, changed, and rerouted to only ferry commuters to Metro stations.

All of this comes at a time when some drivers who trained at PRTC are leaving to make more money driving buses for other agencies. (more…)

News
Mark Center commuter bus begins operation

New commuter bus service from eastern Prince William County to Mark Center begins today.

Commuter buses will take riders from neighborhoods in Dale City and Lake Ridge to Mark Center, the federal employment hub in Alexandria that is the home to the Department of Defense’s Washington Headquarters Services, and other Department of Defense agencies.

Four trips in the morning and afternoon will be offered to commuters on the both the Dale City and Lake Ridge routes. (more…)

News
If PRTC gets a ‘floor,’ drivers would pay a ‘few pennies more’

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Some relief for cash-strapped OmniRide could come in the form of legislation in Richmond.

A new bill by Sen. Frank Wagner (Norfolk, Virginia Beach) would set the gas tax “floor” at February 2013 rates. That means OmniRide’s parent agency Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission would get it’s 2.1% funding from the state’s motor fuels tax based on 2013 prices, which averaged $3.17 per gallon statewide that year. Diesel fuel averaged $3.36 per gallon statewide. 

Compare that to today’s average price at the pump: $1.68 for regular and $2 for diesel, according to today’s AAA’s Fuel Gauge report. 

The gas tax is a primary source of state funding for OmniRide, which operates heavily-used commuter buses from Prince William County and Manassas to Washington, D.C. (more…)

News
VDOT will review miserable commute after blizzard ends

The roads last night were treacherous across the region, as less than an inch of snow that fell quickly turned to mush, and then to ice. 

Vehicles traveling on Route 610 slipped and slid all over the roadway as drivers tried to make their way home.

I was one of the drivers that never made it home last night.

Several crashes on Route 610, as well as a jackknifed tractor trailer made it impossible to drive Route 610 west beyond Joshua Road. It was one of the more troublesome spots (especially in Stafford County, I’m told) where road conditions deteriorated quickly.  (more…)

News
Public hearings planned for proposed bus cuts, fare hikes

Many riders begin and end their commutes, or transfer to other PRTC buses at the agency’s Transit Center in Woodbridge.

A new OmniRide budget calls for cutting services and raising fares.

Fares could increase by 5% starting in July to offset a $9.2 million budget shortfall for Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, the agency that operates OmniRide commuter, and OmniLink local buses. The fare increase is on top of fares that have already increased by 30% since 2009.

Under the proposed fare increase, new one-way fares would be: (more…)

News
Gas line relocation begins Monday in Manassas Park

Drivers turn from Va. 28 south onto Blooms Quarry Lane in Manassas Park. (Uriah Kiser/ManassasLocal.com)

Construction crews will begin relocating gas lines in Manassas Park on Monday.

The work will take place at the intersection of Euclid Avenue and Manassas Drive, and is being done in advance of roadwork to occur in the area.

The work is expected to take place through February, and will occur at multiple locations around the intersection.

Here’s more in a press release:  (more…)

News
Aden Road bridge to be trucked to Florida

It’s time to remove the old Aden Road bridge.

The one-lane wrought-iron truss bridge will be removed from its perch over the Norfolk-Southern railway on Tuesday.

Remediation work to remove lead paint will be performed on the bridge, and then it will be trucked to Florida for a complete restoration. The bridge is 133 years old.

“It’s a community cornerstone,” said Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Ellen Kamilakis. (more…)

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