Public Comment Period Now Open for Intercity Passenger Rail Operations Funding Study

RELEASE:  IMMEDIATE

Contact:  Jennifer Pickett
               (804) 786-7432
               Jennifer.Pickett@drpt.virginia.gov     

RICHMOND, Va., June 3, 2010- The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) today announced an opportunity for public comment on an intercity passenger rail operations funding study.

SJ63, sponsored by Virginia Senator Yvonne Miller, was adopted during the 2010 General Assembly Session, and it requires DRPT to evaluate potential dedicated sources of state funding for intercity passenger rail service.

There is currently no state source of operating funds for intercity passenger rail service. Virginia has contracted with Amtrak for two state-sponsored trains over a three-year demonstration period, but funding is not available either to sustain the service permanently or to introduce any other new intercity passenger rail service in Virginia.

DRPT Director Thelma Drake said, “The demand for more transportation choices continues to grow in Virginia, but without a dedicated source of operating funds we will not be able to sustain or expand Amtrak service in underserved areas such as Hampton Roads and Southwest Virginia in the future.”

Public comments are an important part of the study process, and DRPT is currently accepting public comments on the best way to fund intercity passenger rail operations at the state level. There are several options available for public comment as follows:

• Complete the online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7NGS3HL
• Send written comments to drptpr@drpt.virginia.gov
• Mail written comments to Public Information Office, DRPT, 600 E Main St, Suite 2102, Richmond, VA 23219

These initial comments and survey forms will help guide development of the draft study document. All comments are due by July 2, 2010.

The current study schedule calls for the draft document to be available in fall 2010, at which time a second public comment period will be announced. SJ63 requires that the study be completed prior to the start of the 2011 General Assembly Session, and DRPT anticipates finalizing the study by the end of 2010.

About DRPT
The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) is the state agency for rail, transit and commuter services in Virginia. DRPT’s mission is to improve mobility and expand transportation choices. Visit us at www.drpt.virginia.gov.

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