Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.
Committee of 500 calls for VRE push
The Committee of 500 sent out a mass e-mail to dig up support for the Virginia Railway Express. I will just post it and you guys and gals can discuss it, if you wish:
C500 Members and Friends:
As you may have heard or read, the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors will soon debate whether the county should join VRE, the Virginia Railway Express commuter train system. Fredericksburg and Stafford have been VRE members for many years.
The Committee of 500 strongly endorses Spotsylvania membership in VRE. We encourage you to write a letter to the editor at http://www.fredericksburg.com/News/Feedback/sendLetterForm or send an e-mail to the entire Board of Supervisors at firstname.lastname@example.org or make a comment on the Free Lance Star website when a VRE letter to the editor or article appears.
On our web site (www.committeee500.org) you’ll find a set of VRE talking points (click "VRE – Join NOW") and a link to an exhaustive study of gas prices in Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg and Stafford. The data is irrefutable: gas prices are set by regional market forces, the 2% surcharge has negligible impact.
We would greatly appreciate notification of any correspondence you initiate so we can track the activity. We will let you know when VRE will be on the supervisors’ meeting agenda.
There are sound reasons for joining VRE related to the environment and to relieving raffic congestion. However, in these rough economic times, the most compelling argument for joining VRE is a fiscal one.
Membership in VRE requires a 2% gas surcharge in each member jurisdiction. This revenue is used to pay the county’s VRE costs and fund other county transportation projects. Since 2001, Stafford and Fredericksburg have collected $25 million for their local transporation projects, over and above their VRE costs! Spotsylvania is missing out on many millions of dollars that could be used for rural roads, upgrading existing roads, or other projects. And think about this–Spotsylvania would collect this revenue from I-95 travelers who stop here to fill up their tank!
But why, you may ask, should I pay an extra 2% for gas to subsidize VRE riders? The reality is you already pay it! When you buy gas in Fredericksburg (e.g. Central Park) or Stafford, 2% goes to fund their local transportation projects. When you buy gas in Spotsylvania, that 2% goes to the fossil fuel industry. Gas is no less expensive in Spotsylvania than it is in Fredericksburg and Stafford, both of which belong to VRE. That is because market forces equalize the cost of gasoline across the region. Look at these figures from the gas price study (data from gasbuddy.com):
Average Per Gallon Price per Brand
Two months ending 1/27/09
Spotsylvania Fredericksburg* Stafford*
Wawa $1.59 $1.59 $1.58
Valero 1.58 1.58 1.58
7-Eleven 1.58 1.59 1.59
Shell 1.68 1.66 1.72
* Fredericksburg and Stafford averages include the 2% surcharge
For more information and details on the gas price study, go to www.committee500.org and click on "VRE – Join NOW".
Spotyslvania should join VRE and start reaping the benefits of membership for the ENTIRE county, just like Fredericksburg and Stafford have been doing for years.