SHEPHERDSTOWN – The future of MARC train service in the Eastern Panhandle is largely in Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s hands as negotiations to maintain the service move forward, Sen. Herb Snyder told the League of Women Voters at a transportation forum last week.
[cleeng_content id="848136966" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]“It will be completely up to the Governor to be serious about this and get this done,” Snyder said. “He needs to make sure it is part of the executive budget that is given to the legislature next year.”
Snyder said Tomblin is well aware of the issue.
“He is aware of it … He has heard me talk about this for more than a decade.”
Snyder said that MARC service had almost been lost entirely five years ago, immediately prior to the imposition of the $2 per trip fee for West Virginia riders. He said that the Maryland Transit Authority had been losing more that $1.2 million a year providing the service, but the state had been unwilling to provide inducements to continue it.
“The governor (Joe Manchin) at that time was not interested in putting any money in it, and we almost lost all three trains,” Snyder said. “We had no money.”
Snyder says Tomblin now has both the money and the legislative mandate to work out a deal with Maryland that will preserve the service, but many details remain entirely up in the air.
“Everything is on the table: Will they do away with the West Virginia fee? Will they add more trains? Will they add more buses? Will we increase the size of the yard in Martinsburg? Will we someday build a maintenance facility to someday draw the maintenance of these trains into West Virginia?”
And, Snyder added, the consequences of failing to secure an agreement could have hard-felt impacts on some areas of the county.
“If this MARC service were to stop, we would dump 500 cars a day into the Harpers Ferry gap,” he said. “Everyone understands what that would do.”[/cleeng_content]