VTA Announces Legislative Priorities
The Virginia Transit Association has set its annual Legislative Day for January 23.
VTA is a coalition of transit professionals from public and private organizations who know that public transportation is important to the individual mobility, a clean environment, and livable communities. Members include: transit systems from across the state; businesses that serve transit systems or who rely on transit for labor and customers; local government officials and business leaders who recognize the importance of public transit; organizations concerned about transportation, mobility, the environment, suburban sprawl, urban revitalization, and quality of life issues for the elderly; and individuals who support public transportation.
Transit Funding Gap
Support addressing the transit capital funding gap associated with the end of transportation revenue bonds (CPR) bonds authorized in 2007.
Included in this, raise awareness of key issues and support the organization and administration of statewide capital and operating programs that are robust, balanced, and equitable.
(2016 Action – Delegate Chris Peace introduced HB 1359 that created the Transit Capital Project Revenue Advisory Board. VTA supports the work of the TCPRAB as it works to address the capital funding gap.)
Establish GAS Tax Floor
The revenues collected via the regional gas tax are significantly lower due to the drop in fuel prices. (40%+) VTA supports an amendment to Virginia Code Section §58.1-2295 which would establish a protective floor price for the 2.1% regional gas tax, much as was done for the statewide fuels tax in Section §58.1-2217 (HB2313 in 2013). Such a floor concept is essential to provide a more stable, dedicated revenue source needed for long-term financing of regional projects.
(Affected localities are within or adjoining the Northern Virginia Transportation District including: Counties of: Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania, Stafford; Cities of: Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, Manassas Park, Fredericksburg; Towns of: Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg, Purcellville, Vienna and all localities in the Hampton Roads Planning District – Counties of: Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Southampton, Surry, York; Cities of: Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Poquoson, Williamsburg, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach)
(2016 Action – Senator Frank Wagner introduced SB 477 to establish a gas tax floor for all of the affected localities. Delegate Mark Levine introduced a similar bill – HB 1008 – Neither bill was successful.)
Create Metrorail Safety Commission
A 2012 federal statute requires the jurisdictions that make up WMATA to establish a safety oversight commission to oversee Metrorail safety. This will succeed the Tri-State Oversight Committee, a partnership between Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia that was to oversee safety but has been blamed for many of Metro’s safety-related issues.
Recently, the federal government has increased its pressure on the jurisdictions to create the new safety oversight commission by having the Federal Transit Agency take over Metro safety oversight and threatening federal funding should the commission not be finalized by February 2017. If federal funding is pulled, all Virginia transit properties receiving federal funding will be severely impacted – not just WMATA.
VTA Support of Local/Regional Transit Positions
–Support legislation to provide for the appointment of fare enforcement inspectors to enforce payment of fares for use of mass transit facilities. The bill also provides that failure of a transit user to pay the fare or produce proof of fare payment shall result in a civil penalty of not more than $100. Fare enforcement is now limited to Northern Virginia (District 8); this bill would extend it to statewide application. (2014 Action – Delegate Tom Rust – HB 761 and Senator Adam Ebbin- SB 264 introduced legislation that permitted statewide application but the bills were amended to limit to NoVa.)
–Oppose any efforts to diminish NVTC governance, powers or duties.