On 422 Toll Plan, DVRPC Fights Information Requests


Jon Frey, right, president of the Pennsylvania Transit Expansion Coalition, greets area residents last Tuesday at the Route 422 Forum

HARRISBURG PA — The regional agency pushing for vehicle tolls and the possibility of returning commuter rail service along the U.S. Route 422 corridor is, at least for now, refusing to release to the public information used in creating its plan, The Pennsylvania Independent online news servicereported Friday (Sept. 16, 2011).

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), which is responsible for the tolling proposal, argues it is not subject to the state’s right-to-know law and does not have to provide information so it can be independently verified.

In defiance of a state Office of Open Records ruling that information be disclosed, DVRPC has denied several right-to-know-law requests that seek data on current SEPTA train ridership. They were filed during the past two months by the Pennsylvania Transit Expansion Coalition (PA-TEC), a citizen’s group opposed to 422 tolling, according to The Independent.

DVRPC is asking Commonwealth Court to review and reverse the Office of Open Records decision.

Coalition President Jon Frey told The Independent his group wants to verify the accuracy of a ridership projection for a DVRPC-proposed rail line between Norristown and Reading, which is tentatively planned to make stops in Lower Pottsgrove and Pottstown. Resumption of train service, which ended in the 1980s, would be financed primarily by toll revenue from nearby Route 422.

For now, “any DVRPC records are pre-decisional, deliberative and strategic, and therefore exempt” from the state’s right-to-know law, Candy Snyder, its communications director, replied. Anything that can be made public is already available, she said.

DVRPC Executive Director Barry Seymour was one of several panelists who spoke Tuesday (Sept. 13) during a forum on the 422 proposal held at Pop John Paul II High School in Royersford. It attracted hundreds of area residents, most of whom seemed to oppose tolling.

Related (to U.S. Route 422 Corridor planning):