Transit Advocacy Day at the Virginia General Assembly
January 22, 2018
We were lucky this year with no snow, rain, or cold to prevent transit advocates from making the trek to Richmond to promote public transit. On Monday, January 22 the Virginia Transit Association hosted its annual legislative briefing, Transit Advocacy Day, and “Transportations Choices” Legislative Reception.
The day began with a legislative briefing with a welcome from VTA President David Snyder (Falls Church Councilman), an overview of transit funding measures from VTA Executive Director, Lisa Guthrie, and tips on how to tell your compelling transit story from Bob Schneider, PRTC CEO. We were pleased to be joined by VTA members from across the Commonwealth including transit companies, government officials, business leaders, and citizen advocates. Following the legislative briefing, attendees went on to meet with legislators at the General Assembly to highlight the importance of funding transit.
Key transit bills before the General Assembly include HB 1319 and SB 856. We are calling them the “Omnibus” bills because they attempt to accomplish several objectives:
- Identify and secure dedicated, bondable funding for WMATA
- Establish floor on regional gas tax in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads to match State Gas Tax Floor
- Identify funds to address Statewide Transit Capital “Fiscal Cliff”
- Secures dedicated funding for Virginia Railway Express
- Requires the implementation of a prioritization process for transit capital funds
The bills are still being tweaked to address the NoVa revenue source concerns but we should not lose sight of the benefits. We absolutely need a vehicle to advance solutions to our funding needs and as our President Dave Snyder said, this is the year to make it happen. VTA will keep you informed as the bills progress so you have the latest updates to share with your Delegates and Senators. For action alerts that are geo-targeted for where you live, please be sure to sign up for the Transit Action Network here.
The culmination of the day was our annual “Transportation Choices” Legislative Reception in the beautiful, newly restored Main Street Station Train Shed. The turnout was wonderful with 200+ in attendance including many Members of the General Assembly. We were honored to be joined by Governor Ralph Northam, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine, and DRPT Director Jennifer Mitchell. Remarks covered current transit legislation and the vision for the new Administration.
We are deeply appreciative of our generous event Sponsors that made the reception possible:
Michael Baker, Inc.
INIT Innovations in Transportation, Inc.
Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance
VA League of Conservation Voters - Ed Fund
This is an important session to achieve public transportation advances, and we are all working together closely to accomplish our objectives! Thank you to all who participated in Transit Advocacy Day!
If you can come to Richmond any other day of the 2018 Session, please contact us if we can help point you in the right direction. The next ten days will be crucial to achieving transit goals!
(From left to right) Governor Ralph Northam, VTA Treasurer and HRT CEO William Harrell, Mayor Levar Stoney, VTA President David Snyder, and VTA Executive Director Lisa Guthrie