While hearing an updated set of five options for the future of the Falls Church GEORGE bus system, ranging from keeping it as is now to terminating it once and for all, the F.C. City Council mulled the issue, asked questions, listened to three citizens comment, and then put over a final decision until its next regular business meeting on Aug. 9. The issue will get further consideration at a Council work session in the meantime, set for Aug. 2.
One of the citizen petitioners tonight called for terminating the program entirely, another called for keeping it, and a third, former F.C. Chamber of Commerce president Gary LaPorta, reminded the Council that when GEORGE was first initiated in 2002, there was a major debate over whether it should be deployed as a commuter service for City residents, or primarily as a tool of economic development. The former role was chosen, and ridership has been so low that it has become cost prohibitive despite fare increases to $1.50 a ride.
Councilman David Snyder picked up on LaPorta’s comments, saying that the notion of re-purposing GEORGE as a tool of economic development is an important consideration, not currently included among the five alternative options for the service. Snyder urged a consultation with the leadership of the F.C. Chamber of Commerce on its views before a final vote on GEORGE is taken.