AP NEWS

WVa gov puts $1M toward keeping DC commuter trains running

December 20, 2019 GMT

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — The governor of West Virginia has pledged $1.1 million in civil contingency funds to maintain commuter train service from the nation’s capital into eastern parts of the state.

Gov. Jim Justice’s chief of staff, Mike Hall, announced the funds on Thursday in Martinsburg, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported. The future has been uncertain for West Virginia’s six daily Maryland Area Regional Commuter trains since August when the Maryland Transit Authority announced that West Virginia would have to pay $3.2 million to maintain service levels.

The Legislature has promised to put $1.2 million toward the rail service. Other funding includes $300,000 from counties and municipalities along the MARC route and $750,000 in unencumbered funds due to affected localities. The mishmash of funding sources was negotiated and developed after a September public hearing at which an overflowing crowd expressed strong opposition to any service reductions.

The goal is to now come up with a long-term funding plan, said Republican Sen. Craig Blair, the Senate finance chairman. He had been adamant about not providing additional state funding for the MARC trains.

“I love the train, but we’ve got to be able to afford it,” he said.