Resolution of Endorsement

For

New Amtrak Passenger Rail Service through the Region.

 

 

WHEREAS, Albemarle County, Charlottesville and the Central Virginia Region have enjoyed a rich history of passenger rail service connecting the region to Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.; and

 

WHEREAS, the railroads were vital to the growth of Central Virginia’s economy and to the development, strength and diversity of its educational, cultural and civic institutions; and

 

WHEREAS, these historical ties to Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. continue to be critical to the strength of our economy, to the health and vitality of our academic and research institutions, to our tourism industry, and to Central Virginia’s increasing role as host to federal defense agencies and their allied contractors; and

 

WHEREAS, the Amtrak Crescent is the only daily passenger train connecting Charlottesville to Washington, D.C. and the Northeast Corridor, supplemented three days a week by the Amtrak Cardinal; and

 

WHEREAS, neither of these Amtrak trains provides peak hour service to Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., nor do they, as part of Amtrak’s national system, provide a sufficient level of on-time performance to meet the needs of the business or non-business traveler who must arrive early in the day, arrive on-time, and return the same evening; and

 

WHEREAS, in spite of these limitations, Charlottesville maintains one of the highest, most consistent ridership levels of any Amtrak station in Virginia; and

 

WHEREAS, the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce found that 63 percent of its member businesses regularly send employees to Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. for business purposes, 84 percent of the time they travel there by car, and 66 percent said they would use a reliable passenger rail link if one were available; and

 

WHEREAS, multiple state-funded studies over the past decade have identified Charlottesville-Washington as the route segment having the greatest potential for ridership growth in the US29/I-81 corridor; and

 

WHEREAS, in a 2008 report to the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (VDRPT), Amtrak recommended new service in the Lynchburg-DC corridor "as soon as possible," describing it as "underserved" and "a route segment that frequently sells out." and Amtrak proposed a new service structure, along with a schedule; and

 

WHEREAS, both VDRPT and Amtrak expressed interest in providing peak hour service for Washington-bound passengers; for example, Amtrak described the proposed schedule as offering "...a good service pattern for business travel to Washington - a first for the region."; and

 

WHEREAS, Central Virginians rallied around the Amtrak proposal, providing broad-based public input to the Department of Rail and Public Transportation to demonstrate that current Amtrak service is not currently meeting the region’s needs, particularly for business and non-business travel to Washington, D.C.; and

 

WHEREAS,  the City of Charlottesville and the Counties of Albemarle, Greene, Nelson, Fluvanna, and Louisa  unanimously joined twenty-two political subdivisions in the US29 corridor that executed a resolution of support for the proposed Lynchburg-DC service; and

 

WHEREAS, on May 7, 2008,  the Board of Supervisors of Albemarle County, Virginia, expressed support for additional passenger  rail service from Central Virginia to Washington, D.C. by adopting a Resolution; and

 

WHEREAS, Governor Timothy M. Kaine has secured the necessary agreements with the host railroads, Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express, and the Commonwealth Transportation Board has appropriated the funds to operate Lynchburg-DC intercity passenger service for three years as a Demonstration Project; and

 

WHEREAS, VDRPT recently released the approved schedule for the Lynchburg-DC train, but this schedule is not useful for the business traveler or for a day trip to Washington, D.C., having a 7:43 a.m. departure from Lynchburg and 11:20 a.m. arrival in Washington; and

 

WHEREAS, according to DRPT, “…the actual schedule for the new trains was developed based on the available time slots for new trains to be added in each corridor and compatibility with Amtrak Northeast Corridor service schedules, as defined in the agreements executed with the applicable host railroads and Amtrak.” ; and

 

WHEREAS, with the approved schedule, the Lynchburg-DC train will add to the rail options available for recreational travelers and others making extended stays, but will perpetuate the existing situation wherein passenger rail is of limited utility to the business, professional, academic, government and defense-related sectors of the Charlottesville and Central Virginia region, and will not serve the citizens of the US29 corridor who would choose the train for a day-trip to Washington, D.C. if an early morning arrival were available; and

 

WHEREAS, in order to demonstrate success and to justify future investments in the corridor, the ridership for the Lynchburg-DC train must materialize;

 

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Supervisors of Albemarle County, Virginia, urges VDRPT to closely monitor ridership performance of the Lynchburg-DC train, providing origin and destination figures during the first year to determine if it is meeting expectations, as well as support the conduct of a comprehensive, valid market study to determine if a peak hour schedule, such as the schedule originally published by Amtrak, would result in greater use of the service, as well as generate additional revenue; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board of Supervisors of Albemarle County, Virginia, urges Governor Kaine, Secretary Homer and the VDRPT to do everything within the State of Virginia’s legal power and authority to negotiate additional, peak hour slots in Northern Virginia, including an appeal with the Surface Transportation Board, if necessary, to mediate additional access for this and future trains serving the US29 corridor.

 

 

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