The Prince William County Board of Supervisors has appropriated nearly $35,000 in federal grant funds and $10,850 in local funds to study options for easing county commuter problems during the next five years.
To be conducted by the planning staff, the study will evaluate the current ride-sharing program, in which more than 1,000 residents currently participate, the Metro system's plans to extend bus service to Springfield and Franconia, the Council of Governments' commuter rail study and the county's commuter bus service. The county's share of the study's funding will consist of "in kind" staff services. Bids for a consultant on the project will be solicited next month, according to the county's new traffic planner, John Schofield.
"This study will give us a leg up on what commuter needs will be in five years and some idea of what to do about them," Schofield said. Of the county's 165,000 residents, 45,000 work outside the county, principally in other parts of Northern Virginia and the District.
In December 1983, the county purchased 20 commuter buses with $1.4 million in state and federal grants in an attempt to improve service in the eastern end of Prince William. However, only 10 of the used coaches are on the road, because of a problem with the company doing the bus rehabilitation in Minnesota, Schofield said. The county hopes to have at least two more buses on the road by the end of November, he said.
The Metro Yellow Line is slated to open in the early 1990s, but a shortage of federal funds may hamper those plans, Schofield said.
"In this study we will try to determine if we should run buses to Springfield and Franconia and if there should be a new commuter rail system from here," he said. Currently there is limited Amtrak service from Charlottesville to Manassas to Alexandria. The study will determine whether there are enough potential riders to justify the cost, the planners said.