OmniRide is dealing with a $16 million funds shortfall in Prince William County until the county can afford a steep subsidy improve sought by the bus system.

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An OmniRide bus. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

OmniRide is dealing with a $16 million funds shortfall in Prince William County until the county can afford a steep subsidy improve sought by the bus system for the funds 12 months that begins July 1.

Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC), the company that oversees OmniRide, is backed in Prince William via a motor gasoline tax, which is projected not to herald almost sufficient to cowl the $33 million the transit company is requesting from the county.

OmniRide will likely be pressured to chop service if it may well’t safe native funding to offset its rising prices, though it’s not instantly clear what these service cuts would possibly appear to be.

Although members of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors broadly help the county’s want for strong bus service, throughout a gathering Tuesday they expressed skepticism they’ll afford to proceed paying the steep subsidies sought by OmniRide.

“I feel we will all agree on this dais that we do help transportation,” mentioned Occoquan Supervisor Kenny Boddye, a Democrat. “We can’t be anticipated to totally fund PTRC requests 12 months after 12 months after 12 months. We can’t. That’s unsustainable for us as a locality, and albeit it’s unfair to ask a single locality to try this.”

Rising prices fueled by inflation and the drying up of pandemic reduction {dollars} has led the transit company to wish considerably more cash than previous funds cycles, in line with Phil Parella, PTRC’s chief monetary officer.

Inflation has pushed up the price of bus supplies, insurance coverage and wages. OmniRide is competing for a similar workforce as different regional bus transit companies, which can also be driving up labor prices, as is a collective bargaining settlement reached final 12 months after a strike by drivers.

Parella mentioned OmniRide is just not alone in its fiscal troubles. Other regional bus companies in Fairfax County and Alexandria are additionally experiencing rising prices. And The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which oversees Metro, is dealing with a major funds shortfall because of low ridership and the expiration of pandemic assist.

PTRC obtained $38 million in COVID restoration funds, which prevented mass layoffs. But that funding has dried up, serving to to create the huge hole within the company’s monetary outlook.

County transportation employees argued that the board absolutely funding OmniRide’s requested subsidy could be unsustainable and create an enormous spending deficit for the county within the coming years. Boddye mentioned funding the subsidy in full was a “non-starter” for him.

But employees supplied various options, together with partly funding the transit company’s request. Staff additionally urged the board to foyer the General Assembly to legislate a constant stream of native {dollars} to fund mass transit. Woodbridge Supervisor Margaret Franklin, elevating issues about OmniRide’s funding request, additionally mentioned the board should push lawmakers in Richmond to assist fund native bus service.

Other employees strategies included supporting extra electrical car charges to offset loss in motor fuels tax or create a brand new tax to assist fund transit.

Gainesville Supervisor Bob Weir, a Republican who opposes growing funding for the company, argued OmniRide is rising unsustainably and spending an excessive amount of. Brentsville Supervisor Tom Gordy, additionally a Republican, known as OmniRide’s request an outlier within the county’s funds as among the many solely substantial value will increase for the county this cycle.

Board chair Deshundra Jefferson, a Democrat who incessantly commutes by way of OmniRide into Washington, known as on the company to make cuts inside its system, noting she is “involved” with the steep price ticket the county faces.