MPO Policy Board gets update on regional transit governance study 

On Wednesday, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors got an update from the Regional Transit Governance Study as well as a review of what the county gets from its transit investment from the Texas Transportation Institute. I’ll have more from that in the future.

A week earlier, the Policy Board of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization had its own update on a five-phase plan for the study, which is intended to create a pathway to implement the expansion of public transportation called for in the Regional Transit Vision. 

Lucinda Shannon is a transportation planner with the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. 

“We are heading into phase four and then phase five will be recommendations so we’re looking at governance options at the moment,” Shannon said. 

Phase three covered potential revenue sources that could be drawn down from a potential regional transportation authority. All of the localities in the TJPDC would be invited to join. Shannon offered two  budget figures to work toward for planning purposes. 

“For the vision plan we worked on the assumption of a constrained budget which would cost about $35 million and an unconstrained budget which would total up to about $85 million,” Shannon said.

Shannon said both Charlottesville Area Transit and Jaunt bring in about $9 million in federal and state revenues. That would leave about $18 million to raise through other sources. That could involve greater funding from each locality’s general fund, a share of the lodging tax for each locality, or a share from the personal property tax. 

In one theoretical example, a 0.7 percent increase in the sales tax across the entire region could yield as much as $36.6 million in FY2025. 

A table from the technical memo prepared by the firm AECOM depicts theoretical revenue that would come from a regional sales tax devoted to transit. (view the memo) (Credit: AECOM)

The General Assembly would need to approve a referendum to allow voters if they wanted to increase the sales tax. Former Delegate David Toscano introduced a bill for this purpose in 2009, but it failed to make it out of committee. (HB2161)

Shannon said the plan’s steering committee is continuing to go through this work. 

The technical memo produced for Phase 3 does not include any information about funding from the University of Virginia. City Councilor Brian Pinkston said he thought UVA President Jim Ryan’s Council on UVA-Community Partnerships should be involved with an eye toward revenue. 

“I just think that this is one of those kind of more Blue Sky higher-level vision things where we could have a real alignment between what that committee is wanting to do and what we all need the University to do,” Pinkston said. 

The University of Virginia is budgeted to contribute $84,900 to Charlottesville Area Transit in the current fiscal year, according to a chart developed by the Texas Transportation Institute. 

The governance study will be completed by the end of the year. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the November 2, 2023 edition.

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