MARC Funding Deadline Passes, Maryland Keeps Current Service In W.Va. For Now
Nov. 30 was the deadline for West Virginia to provide $2.3 million to the Maryland Department of Transportation to keep the Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) at its current service. Otherwise, the service in West Virginia would be reduced from six trains per weekday to two.
But it’s unclear if an agreement was reached.
In an emailed statement to West Virginia Public Broadcasting, the Maryland Transit Administration said that MARC is still operating normally in West Virginia, and they would not “implement any change in service without first issuing a 30-day notice.”
The MTA also stated that they remain open to discussions with the West Virginia Rail Authority on “any concerns regarding the proposed service change.”
During the 2019 state Legislative session, Maryland requested $3.4 million to keep the MARC service in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, and the Legislature agreed to fund $1.1 million. In August, Maryland announced they would reduce service unless the remaining amount was paid.
In October, Gov. Jim Justice told local municipalities in Jefferson and Berkeley Counties that if they managed to come up with $300,000, his office would fund the remaining $2 million. But, only about $260,000 was pulled together before the Nov. 30 deadline.
The Governor's office did not respond to requests for comment before this story was published.
In Morgan County, the Economic Development Authority approved a resolution last week asking Maryland to extend MARC service into Morgan County as a possible funding solution.
The Morgan County EDA cited increased ridership opportunities, increased revenues and increased job opportunities as a few of the benefits of expansion.
Executive Director Daryl Cowles, who’s also a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, said they haven't received a response from Maryland or Gov. Justice on this proposal.
Currently, the MARC train only serves two counties in West Virginia: Berkeley and Jefferson.
Today, at least 250 West Virginians commute to work using the MARC train during the week, according to the Maryland Transit Administration. It’s been serving West Virginia commuters living in the Eastern Panhandle since the 1970s, but West Virginia has largely never paid for the service except through tickets and upkeep of its West Virginia stations.