Major Cuts, Fare Hikes Proposed for OmniRide and Metro Direct Bus Service | NBC4 Washington

Major Cuts, Fare Hikes Proposed for OmniRide and Metro Direct Bus Service

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A budget shortfall has officials considering service cuts or fare hikes for bus service in Northern Virginia. News4 Transportation Reporter Adam Tuss has the story. (Published Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016)

    A multi-million budget shortfall may force a popular Virginia bus service to slash service and increase fares.

    Nine lines may be eliminated on the OmniRide and Metro Direct bus lines in Northern Virginia, according to a proposal by the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission.

    The commission serves fast-growing Prince William County.

    The plan also calls for reduction of Friday service and for other lines to be consolidated. All of the PRTC bus lines -- including its OmniLink and Cross County Connector service -- would be affected in some way.

    The proposal also calls for fares to increase by an average of 5 percent.

    "I really don't see how or why they would cut anything based on the amount of people who ride the bus in the morning,” commuter Gregory Budd told News4.

    Lower gas prices have led to lower gas tax collections, contributing to the $9.2 million budget deficit. And the county lost some federal funding after converting I-95 HOV lanes into toll lanes.

    "As gas prices have precipitously declined, so has [gas] tax revenues," said Frank Principi, chairman of the commission.

    Now, the PRTC is facing the "imminent depletion" of a motor fuels tax reserve fund that it uses to pay transportation costs.

    Local leaders said they are trying to work with the commission to find other funding for the bus routes, so that service can be maintained.

    But until then, public hearings will proceed on the proposal, which would take effect in July 2016. 

    Other riders said they would turn to alternatives if needed to make their commute work -- including the region's free, informal carpool services known as slug lines.

    "Slug is pretty easy," said rider Dan Moon. "You don't have to pay for it, that's for sure."

    Among the proposed cuts, according to the PRTC:

    OmniRide commuter bus:

    • Elimination of the Capitol Hill route;
    • Elimination of two trips on the South Route 1 route;
    • Elimination of one trip on the Dale City – Washington route;
    • Elimination of neighborhood routing on all Lake Ridge routes;
    • Elimination of neighborhood routing on the Dale City and Lake Ridge DL and DLX trips;
    • Route consolidation of all trips serving Crystal City requiring Dale City passengers to transfer at the Pentagon;
    • Elimination of Modified Holiday service; and
    • Reduction of service on Fridays.

    Metro Direct commuter bus:

    • Elimination of two trips on Linton Hall Metro Direct;
    • Elimination of all non-rush hour and reverse-commute trips on Manassas Metro Direct; and
    • Reduction of frequency of mid-day trips on Prince William Metro Direct

    OmniLink and Cross County Connector local buses:

    • Reduction of frequency on all OmniLink routes;
    • Elimination of one trip on the Route 1 OmniLink route;
    • Restructuring of Manassas and Manassas Park OmniLink routing including a reduction in frequency of service; and
    • Elimination of three Cross County trips and reduction in frequency of service.

    Under the proposed fare increase, new one-way fares would be:

    • OmniRide SmarTrip fare – $6.50;
    • Metro Direct SmarTrip fare – $3.25;
    • OmniLink and Cross County Connector fare – $1.50;
    • OmniLink and Cross County Connector reduced fare for seniors/disabled – $0.75;
    • Local bus day pass – $3.40;
    • Local bus weekly pass – $13.65


    Four public hearings on the proposed budget, service cuts and fare increase have been set for:

    Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, 1 p.m.
    Manassas City Hall, Council Chambers
    9027 Center Street, Manassas, VA 20110

    Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, 1 p.m.
    PRTC Transit Center
    14700 Potomac Mills Road, Woodbridge, VA 22192

    Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, 7 p.m.
    PRTC Transit Center
    14700 Potomac Mills Road, Woodbridge, VA 22192

    Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, 7 p.m.
    Manassas City Hall, Council Chambers
    9027 Center St, Manassas, VA 20110