- Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 August 2011 17:33
- Published on Wednesday, 10 August 2011 17:33
- Hits: 829
The King George Board of Supervisors was informed at its last meeting that Fredericksburg is anticipating eliminating FREDericksburg Regional Transit service in King George beginning next summer on June 29, 2012.
Fredericksburg City Manager Beverly Cameron’s July 8 letter on the topic was reviewed by County Administrator Travis Quesenberry with the King George Board of Supervisors at its last meeting, on July 19.
The letter provided a year’s notice that continuing to provide bus service to King George is not considered viable by the city. Cameron’s letter contained some conciliatory language, but it also related its need for the county to return to previous levels of service, meaning the county has to provide a bigger budget for bus service if it wants to keep FRED running in the county.
Cameron stated, “Since the inception of FRED service in King George County in 2005, the City and FRED have provided local transit service in the County on a year-to-year basis. This means that we never know from one year to the next how much service the County might want and what its transit budget might be. The FY 2012 budget deliberations in the County underscore this situation.”
Cameron related that King George cut its outlay for FRED in each of the last two budget cycles resulting in service reductions. He also said, “My view is that with the most recent cuts, it is not viable for the City and FRED to continue to provide service beyond this fiscal year.”
Following a public hearing in mid-April in King George, the board had voted to eliminate one of the two routes that had been operating in King George, becoming effective July 5.
Supervisors cut the county’s contribution to FRED from last year’s funding of $132,093 down to $100,000 in the current year.
Calculations by Supervisor Dale Sisson had indicated that last year’s funding resulted in the county subsidizing each ride by adding about $8.25 to the 50-cent fare paid by riders. As of early July, FRED has raised its fare to 75 cents per ride. It’s too early in the fiscal year to calculation the current subsidy for King George and its FRED ridership.
Cameron’s letter also said, “As FRED staff has indicated during meetings with you and County Supervisors and during the recent public hearing, FRED stands ready to assist the County in analyzing transit service alternatives or planning future FRED service if your FY 2013 budget should allow for a return to past levels of service.
Quesenberry told the board the issue could be discussed more in the fall when the budget process for the following year starts up again and requests for outside agencies are again scrutinized.
Chairman Joe Grzeika said he and Sisson had brought the issue up the previous night at a meeting of the George Washington Regional commission (GWRC), adding, “We are not the only county that’s had to take action and cutback on FRED. Caroline and Spotsylvania have done the same. We are looking to get a working group going at GWRC to look at alternatives, and to work with the city, as well, to see if there are options that we can pursue for a rural mass transit, if you will.”
Sisson said, “The letter, it does clearly spell out that they are willing to work with us to develop those alternatives. We’ve had a really good working relationship with the FRED folks as we’ve tried to tailor this service to work for King George.”
Grzeika agreed, but added, “I think it’s important for the public to understand that the whole FRED system is tenuous. We’ve got to come up with another solution set, because the subsidies are just not supportable.”
When FRED service was initiated several years ago in King George, it was mostly paid for with grant funding, with county costs escalating each year. Routes were redesigned two years ago to bring down costs and cut down on empty runs. This year, Sisson and Supervisor Cedell Brooks again worked with FRED officials, who redesigned the route system and run times to again eliminate some empty bus runs and streamline costs.