A Short Primer on Transit Advocacy

Potential changes in Roanoke-area transit have been in the news recently, from rate increases at Valley Metro to route changes in Vinton.  Regardless of where you fall on these issues, this is a prime opportunity to become involved in the future of the Valley’s public transportation network.  We offer this brief primer on what you need to know and how you can be the most effective.

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Delaying the Rocky Mount Bus – For Now

The same financial problems besetting every local government have caused Rocky Mount to reconsider implementing commuter bus service to Roanoke.  Considerations other than weak revenues influenced the decision, though:

The drop in gasoline prices was also another reason that the proposed commuter service is on the back burner now, [Assistant Town Manager Matt Hankins] told the town’s planning commission Tuesday.

When the bus service was proposed last year, gas prices were high, he said. With the decrease in gasoline prices,  Hankins said, the proposal for bus service has a lower priority.

‘I expect it will come up again,” he said, “if gas prices go back up.”

I think “when gas prices go back up” is more likely than “if,” and I would encourage Mr. Hankins and the rest of the Rocky Mount leadership to keep the commuter bus plan handy.  When the economy recovers and, with it, local government revenues, so will gas prices.

During the skyrocketing gas price increases in the spring and summer of 2008, RIDE Solutions saw its largest percentage increase of new carpoolers come from the Rocky Mount and Franklin County area.  Those folks have remained active in the database despite the drop in prices; when gas spikes again, the commuters of Franklin County and Rocky Mount would be well served by their leaders’ ability to move swiftly on establishing an affordable option.