Referendum Rejection Impacts CUE Bus

Referendum Rejection Impacts CUE Bus

Defeat drives buses to seek other funding.

As a result of the defeat of the transportation referendum, transportation projects such as increasing the number of CUE buses rumbling through city streets may have to wait.

"It will be later rather than sooner because we will have to save funds for it," said Fairfax City's transportation director, Alexis Verzosa.

Voters defeated the referendum 57 percent to 43 percent last Tuesday, which would have generated about $5 billion over 20 years for Northern Virginia public transportation and road improvement projects. The CUE bus system would have received $7.5 million from the referendum, with money coming from increasing the sales tax rate in Northern Virginia from 4.5 to 5 percent.

"People felt that they didn't want more taxes," said Gary Rasmussen, City Council member.

Besides a reluctance for a tax increase, citizens were wary or distrustful of how the state government would spend the money. Others thought that building new roads and concentrating on road improvements would have added to the congestion, not decrease it.

"There was an impression that this tax would promote more growth and sprawl," said Council member Scott Silverthorne, during Tuesday's City Council meeting.

Because of the referendum's defeat, the CUE bus system will look at other ways to fund its projects, which were to increase the number of buses, extend weekend hours, explore additional routes and upgrade the CUE bus office.

The bus system currently has half of its budget coming from the city, with the rest coming from the state, from George Mason University and from bus fare revenue.

"If our city budget is also shrinking, that also affects our future plans," Verzosa said.

Rasmussen said supporting the bus system is still a "clear priority" for the city.

"I don't think it will adversely affect the CUE system," Rasmussen said of the referendum's defeat. "I'm sure that we will support it."

Although the CUE system will continue to receive support from the city, it will explore other options for state funding. It may partner with other transit providers in the region to lobby the state for more money.

"If we don't get a different source of funding from the state, we don't have the ability to save funds for the future," Verzosa said.

Regardless of where future funding comes from, Fairfax Mayor Rob Lederer said that leaders in Northern Virginia need to discuss alternatives.

"It's up to all elected officials to draw ourselves back to the table," Lederer said. "A dose of intelligent growth needs to be in the equation."