NEWPORT — The Vermont Transportation Board held a public hearing in Newport Wednesday night at the Gateway Center. About 25 people from the area participated in the hearing, which was a fairly large number, considering that the Boston Red Sox were playing in the World Series at the same time.
The purpose of the hearing was to go over the budget situation that the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) is facing, and to discuss with the community what are our local priorities when it comes to proposed budgeting.
“We only have sixty-five percent of the money we need to do everything that we need to do,” a VTrans Board member said.
With a 35 percent gap in funding, some cuts will need to be made, but the goal was to find out where Vermonters would like to see those cuts made.
“We’re looking for your suggestions on how to fill that gap,” he went on to say.
Throughout the hearing, questions were asked of the participants. One such question was how the state should deal with tax revenue loss from an increase in electric vehicles. Since the gasoline tax makes up the largest share of the funding that VTRans receives, they are starting to look ahead toward a day when Vermonters purchase less gasoline.
One of the options on the table, and also the one most disliked by the participants, was a user based fee for electric cars, based on in-state mileage. When asked how that would be calculated, the Vtrans Board discussed a sticker fitted with GPS.
The suggestion was so unanimously opposed, that most participants laughed, making jokes about the NSA.
What to do with the Vermont railway system was another topic of discussion, with VTrans making it clear that even an increase in passengers would not prevent the state from loosing money in keeping them up.
Vermont State Senator Robert Starr addressed the board in the video below:
On a positive note, it looks like Newport will soon see a bus service running from:
Newport > St. Johnsbury > White River Junction
The Vermont Transportation Board also asked participants where would be good locations in the area to place Park and Ride stations. It seems that we will see more of them coming to the area soon.