The Jefferson County Commission met today to touch on the topic of transportation.
Talks are continuing to keep the MARC train service in the eastern panhandle. In Charles Town, officials went over a $3.2 million annual yearly charge that includes the overall cost of the MARC commuter rail system and the cost of mileage in West Virginia. The cost is expected to go up over time.
West Virginia resident Andy Osantowske rides the MARC train three days a week and says it is the reason why he moved to the state.
“If that service wasn’t here when we moved here when we moved here we certainly wouldn’t have chosen West Virginia as mass transit and it’s going to be a huge consideration moving forward if that service is affected or canceled,” said Osantowske.
According to officials, West Virginia ridership averages about 300 per day. A lot of people moved to West Virginia due to lower taxes. Among the topics discussed, is to have riders leave from a West Virginia station instead of the Brunswick station.
“It’s a limited service right now. We would like to see the service actually increase,” said Doug Pixler, Director of Eastern Panhandle Transit Authority.
The MARC commuter rail is critical in terms of access to jobs and if service stopped. It would affect thousands of people. officials say the train service contributes to tourism in the state. While some are concerned that raising the fare may lose ridership as well as increasing taxes, Osantowske says he’s willing to contribute to maintain the service.
“For me if I was asked to pay a small amount, percentage i would be more willing to do that and maintain the service and stay here,” said Osantowske.
Officials say they will have to come up with a resolution sometime early March.