Welcome to No Light Rail in Virginia Beach
I’m John T. Atkinson and I wish I had the opportunity to vote NO for the Virginia Beach extension of Light Rail/The Tide.
Most proponents are for Light Rail because of the $150,000,000.00 the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has promised to help built the project.
This money is only “free” if the City of Virginia Beach can find the remaining $175,000,000.00 and is willing to cover the projected annual operating losses of $5,300,000.00.
“Free” was what attracted Norfolk to this project, but now the taxpayers of Norfolk find themselves saddled with the $12,000,000.00 annual operating losses with no relief in sight.
If Virginia Beach were to experience the same level of operating losses as our friends in Norfolk do each year, Light Rail alone could cost each and every homeowner an additional .02 cent increase on their real estate taxes, to say nothing of any other funding needs the city might have as budgets are prepared.
As the operating losses increased, so would the burden on Virginia Beach taxpayers.
What it Would Cost You
.02 cents might not seem like a large increase, but it will impact household budgets all across our city in different ways. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median value of owner-occupied housing units from 2009-2013 was $267,600. This figure encompasses all owner-occupied houses from the multi-million dollar properties to the most modestly-priced homes.
On a home valued at $1.5 million dollars, the taxes would increase by $300.00 per year to cover the cost of the Tide Light Rail. On a home valued at $85,000.00, the increase would be just $17.00 per year. Of course if you also consider increases to Storm Water fees, Trash fees, Utility fees and personal property tax increases, I have just one question:
Does the City of Virginia Beach need another reason to increase taxes on our citizens?
Where Were You When the Free Rides Ended?
When the Tide started public operations on August 9th, 2011, the parking lots at the Newtown Road Station were overflowing and 75,000 of our fellow citizens were able to take a free ride on the Tide because new and free things are exciting, cheap entertainment.
But now that most people must pay a fare, on May 7th 2015 there were only 126 cars and two (2) motor-scooters in the parking lot at 2:00 P.M. out of a total of 262 parking spaces available.
With these numbers, the glass isn’t even half-full.
The fact is, the City of Norfolk made an expensive, cancerous mistake building the Tide, and wants Virginia Beach to jump into the fire with them.
On June 6th 2015, the Virginian Pilot published a report from the Brookings Institute, a respected think-tank. It provided utilization and financial information on this matter for the first time.
The results showed that the Tide is racking up the largest losses per-rider, $6.63, of any Light Rail system in the country.
Proponents of Light Rail point to its low operating costs as a plus. That is only because the Tide and all of its components (cars, tracks, signals, etc) are new and haven’t been in operation long enough to wear out, requiring major repairs or replacements.
These losses can only go higher with low ridership as the system ages.