While transit has not received much coverage in all the flurry of campaign mailers and TV spots, it remains one of the most important policy and funding priorities of the commonwealth. Once our new governor is in office, he will find that it is essential to invest in our infrastructure if Virginia is to offer true multimodal transportation options that attract new industry, connect employees to their places of work, provide more quality family time, and begin to address environmental impacts.
VTA reached out to candidates this summer to provide information about the importance of public transportation to our economy and to our quality of life. We also teamed up with Virginians for High Speed Rail to put together a joint gubernatorial questionnaire that asked the candidates to share their positions and goals for transit and rail. We received Lt. Governor Ralph Northam’s completed questionnaire which is by far the most information available from a candidate on the topic. Despite repeated efforts to obtain a response from Mr. Gillespie, we have not received a reply.
VTA is non-political and does not endorse candidates. We did, however, wish to share information with our members to assist you in making voting decisions on November 7 as it may be the only source on the topic that is so important to all of us. Take a few minutes to review the questionnaire on our homepage. The link to the VA State Department of Elections is also there to answer other questions you may have about what else is on your ballot, where to vote, absentee voting, etc.
Make your plan now to vote on Tuesday between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Once elections are over, we turn our attention to the upcoming General Assembly session. We heard a presentation from DRPT Director Jennifer Mitchell at the recent VTA Board meeting on October 20 that drove home the importance of a new source of revenue for transit capital before we descend down the “fiscal cliff” in 2020. More background on that dire situation can be found on our homepage along with a powerpoint presentation and a video that are available to anyone who wishes to use them to educate their boards on what lies ahead.
The Board also voted to adopt the draft VTA Legislative Overview with state and federal legislative objectives. It can be found in the Member Center on our website by logging on. VTA is asking transit systems to help spread the word about the pending “fiscal cliff” and what it will mean to them when state capital funding is cut by 44% in 2020.
We ask that local governments and transit boards be informed so that we can build our base of support with elected officials in Richmond and Washington. Many of our rural and suburban transit systems do not have staff or hired lobbyists to help them communicate with their delegates or state senators prior to the start of the 2018 General Assembly on January 10, so VTA is reaching out in key districts to help them set up meetings and to accompany them on the legislative visits. Our goal is to create a team of transit agency, local government, local business, and university leaders to join with us on the advocacy teams. If you would like to have VTA schedule a visit with your legislator or if you would like to join a team yourself, please contact Mary Lawson (email@example.com) immediately.
Mark your calendars now for our VTA Legislative Advocacy Day at the Capitol and our Legislative Reception. We’ll start with a 9:30 a.m. briefing in the 2nd floor conference room of the VTA office building; 1108 E. Main Street in Richmond. The old General Assembly Building has been decommissioned and will soon be demolished so all legislative offices and many committee meetings have been moved to the Pocahontas Building just down the street from us.
After the legislative visits that afternoon, we’ll gather at Main Street Station for our legislative reception. The new train shed has been finished and open for all to tour. Buz and Ned’s will be back with their fabulous barbeque and we’ll have your favorite Virginia craft beverages.
Admission is free of charge to all VTA members but registration is requested. We encourage the businesses who work with Virginia transit systems or the General Assembly, to consider sponsoring the event. It’s a great opportunity to network with industry colleagues, hear from our legislative and agency leaders in state government and possibly even meet the new governor!
Now is the time to encourage everybody in your transit system or business – your board, your staff, your riders, and YOU to sign up to be an online Transit Action Network e-activist!
When it’s time to send out action alerts during the General Assembly or prior to a Congressional vote, VTA needs to have activists to receive them. We write the draft letters to the elected officials so that all an activist has to do is click on the SEND button. We even identify the right district so the activist knows that the email is going to his or her own elected officials. We also use our software to communicate legislative updates. But our system requires that activists opt themselves into the Transit Action Network.
Please help us build our Transit Action Network by sending invitations and spreading the word!
Have you noticed our new expanded weekly clips format? We wanted to make this regular feature more useful for our members so we’ve added more – more FTA news, a section for job postings and RFP listings, and a listing of upcoming events. We also have a top line space for low-cost advertising. Please let us hear from you!
We were pleased to welcome Ms. Nicole Bambas, U.S. DOT; International Cooperation and Trade Promotion, to our Board meeting on October 20 for a presentation on “Transit’s Role in Curbing Human Trafficking,” There is a national initiative to call on all transportation industry leaders to pledge to raise awareness, educate employees, and track progress on efforts to “Put the Brakes on Human Trafficking.” More information about this despicable crime can be found here.
Consider joining our colleagues in DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) and others in being a part of the solution!
Congratulations to Charles Koontz of Petersburg Area Transit and Brigitte Tanner Carter of RideFinders for winning the drawing from the completed Member Engagement surveys. Whether it’s joining the Conference Planning Team or the TDM Team, we need YOU! If you have not yet completed your survey to let us know how you can help VTA this year in member involvement, it’s not too late!