No new funding = Cutbacks in future transit expansion

In my third installment of “No new funding (equals)”, I focus on some disappointing news that broke over the weekend in Hampton Roads, VA. The area’s two major transit districts; Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) and the Williamsburg Area Transit Authority (WATA) were slated to get a good amount of state and federal funds over the next six years to help replace aging buses and make other necessary improvements to their systems. Unfortunately, changes in the way that funding is calculated within two federal programs. These changes resulted in a much lower revenue estimate than originally planned, which in-turn, forced the Virginia Department of Transportation, and the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization, to substantially reduce the amount of funds that they would be allowed to dish out for various transportation projects throughout the region; including public transit.

So what does this funding reduction mean for both HRT and WATA? It means that neither district will have the funds available to purchase additional buses needed to replace older units and to expand their current fleets, which in-turn, means that both districts will have to hold onto older buses for a longer period of time, thus increasing maintenance costs. HRT was also hoping to be able to purchase a fourth ferry boat for its ferry system. That too has been delayed as a result of these changes. However, both districts will continue to explore other funding avenues to be able to obtain new buses.

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