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Public hearing set for proposed MARC commuter line reductions

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Martinsburg’s Community and Economic Development Director is weighing in what a diminished MARC rail service would mean in the Panhandle.

Shane Farthing said on Thursday’s ‘Panhandle Live’ beyond getting hundreds of commuters to high-paying jobs in DC and Northern Virginia, MARC train means growth back home.

“You have a connection to jobs, you have a connection to tourists and you have a certain amount of value that comes from being transit adjacent. If you go and you look at the real estate listings, you’ll notice that almost every listing for a house or for a commercial property or a business property includes that proximity to MARC.

Farthing also said the fact that fate of the MARC train service has been in question has prevented the community from fully capitalizing on its potential.

“The (Eastern) Panhandle has not been able to fully maximize the economic benefits of the train service we’ve had because it’s been up in the air and ready for cuts and debated publicly for so long. Folks have had a hard time going forward with some of the major capital investments that transit usually brings.”

The Maryland Transit Administration has requested just over 3 million dollars from the state of West Virginia for the 2019 through 2020 fiscal year to continue rail service into the Panhandle. Only about a third of that has been approved.

As a result, proposed changes to the line include reducing it to one train in and out of Martinsburg a day and the elimination of a ticket machine in the Caperton Station. Under those changes, which could take place as early as November, train 872 would leave Martinsburg at 5 am and 875 would return at 6:39 pm.

A public hearing on those changes is set for Saturday, September 7th from 10 to noon at the Charles Town Public Library.

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