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VRE recaps a busy 2012 page 2
VRE recaps year with mixed results and sends proposed FY 2014 budget to commissions for approval

Date published: 12/22/2012

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On another positive note, the board announced Friday that Gov. Bob McDonnell's proposed budget includes millions in track access fees for VRE, something officials had been highly concerned might be lost. Roeber said the exact figures haven't been hammered out, but they expect to get the $9.6 million to pay CSX for the use of the tracks in the coming year.

"So that's good news," Allen said during the meeting.

FARE INCREASES ON HORIZON?

The board also addressed the fiscal year 2014 budget proposal Friday, voting to send it to the commissions that oversee VRE.

If approved by the commissions, the total 2013-14 budget would increase almost 5 percent to $92.99 million. The current budget is $88.7 million.

Expected fare revenues would bring in an additional $2.1 million in FY 2014.

But that increased fare revenue would come from more riders, primarily in the Fredericksburg area.

That good news/bad news scenario has the board concerned about crowding, especially since it looks like there will not be a new train in time to handle an expected spike in riders after the new Spotsylvania station opens. The plans for a new train have been pushed back a year, to 2015.

It looks like fare increases will be used to help VRE expand so it can handle the expected jump in riders.

There was a 4 percent increase this summer, and the 2013-14 budget proposal includes another 4 percent bump. The long-range plan calls for two more such increases by 2017.

Paul Milde, one of Stafford's representatives on the VRE board, said he's concerned about fare increases, but understands the need to plan for the expected growth in passengers.

Fellow board members John Cook of Fairfax and Chris Zimmerman of Arlington said VRE needs to stay ahead of the expected growth.

"Once we get to the point that people are standing and being turned away," said Zimmerman, "we're in trouble."

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436
Email: sshenk@freelancestar.com


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