On Thursday afternoon the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (TDCHR) held it's February meeting at Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) headquarters in Hampton.
There was good news from Washington. The House of Representatives has passed an omnibus spending bill that increases Federal mass transit spending by 6% (to $10.1 billion), while the bill contains a mark that frontloads Norfolk's light rail cash. If passed, Norfolk would this year get the final light rail money that it is scheduled to get over the next two years.
Two teams are in the running for the Virginia Beach light rail study contract. The contract will probably be awarded at the March TDCHR meeting, though maybe delayed to April.
Numbers from the draft FY 2010 TDCHR Budget were given to Commissioners. It proposes a Budget that would increase under 2%. A cut in state support will likely mean having to ask localities for more. However, the General Assembly is being asked to authorize a change in state law to allow state capital funds to be used for operations, which in turn would be supplanted by Federal stimulus money. In addition, a fare increase is on the table.
Speaking of Federal stimulus money, HRT will receive $24.1 million.
In the current fiscal year (FY 2009), HRT is $1.65 million under it's operating budget.
HRT Staff met with Newport News officials about a proposed Christopher Newport University to Huntington Pointe transit line. Newport News is now aware of what will need to be done to qualify for Federal funding.
Disappointment was expressed about the pending regional mass transit Vision Plan coming out of the MPO. If lackluster and if funds are available, HRT may consider doing it's own plan in-house.