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PRTC seeks help from Congressional Delegation on COVID-19 Crisis

WOODBRIDGE, VA – The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, which operates mobility services under the name OmniRide, is seeking help from its Congressional delegation to deal with significant revenue losses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

PRTC Chair Margaret Angela Franklin sent a letter on Friday, March 20, to members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for Virginia. The letter seeks their support for immediate emergency relief funding for public transit agencies, especially those in the National Capital Region, and asks that Congress allocate budgeted, but now unused, federal SmartBenefits funds.

“SmartBenefits provides nearly 35% of the organization’s entire annual operating expense.  This revenue stream alone pays the wages and benefits for 170 bus operators, mechanics, and clerk-level staff,” Franklin wrote.

During the week of March 16, ridership on OmniRide Express buses – which connect neighborhoods in the I-95 and I-66 corridor with employment destinations including the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Crystal City and Rosslyn/Ballston – dropped by an average of 80% compared with the same time in March 2019. The ridership drop is directly attributable to mandated telework and self-isolation to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. OmniRide estimates the pandemic is costing the agency nearly $225,000 per week in lost fare revenues.

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