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Fairfax Connector adjusts fares, VRE transfer policy

Fairfax Connector, the county-owned bus service, announced this week that it will be lowering fares on six routes to match the fare structures of other transit providers and to encourage ridership on certain routes.

In addition, it changes its policy regarding transfers to and from Virginia Railway Express trains. Now, riders transferring from VRE and boarding a bus at one of the VRE stations in the county will not have to pay the bus fare. Riders will be charged a fare to go to a VRE station on a Fairfax Connector bus.

The routes that will experience lowered fares are:

• Route 394, Saratoga-Pentagon Express: Current fare is $5.35; new fare will be $3.65 SmarTrip, $4 cash

• Route 395, Pentagon-Gambrill Road: current fare is $5.35; new fare will be $3.65 SmarTrip, $4 cash

• Route 493, Lorton to Tysons: Current fare is $3.65 SmarTrip, $4 cash; new fare will be $1.60 SmarTrip, $1.80 cash

• Route 494, Springfield to Tysons: Current fare is $3.65 SmarTrip, $4 cash; new fare will be $1.60 SmarTrip, $1.80 cash

• Route 495, Burke VRE to Tysons: Current fare is $3.65 SmarTrip, $4 cash; new fare will be $1.60 SmarTrip, $1.80 cash

• Route 981, Tysons West*Park to Dulles Airport Express: Current fare is $5.35; new fare will be $1.60 SmarTrip, $1.80 cash

State sees revenue increase in May

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) announced Monday that state revenue collections this May were more than 20 percent higher than those in May 2012. May is a significant month for revenue collections in Virginia; it’s when state income taxes are due.

So far this year, total revenue collections are up 6 percent, ahead of the annual forecast of 3.6 percent growth.

According to the governor’s office, a sharp increase in individual income tax payments as compared to last year was the largest factor in the revenue increase.

“Revenue is up; unemployment is down. This is more good news for Virginia’s economy,” McDonnell said in a released statement. “We still have another month to go before the fiscal year draws to a close, and therefore caution is in order before projecting too far out about how the Commonwealth’s books will look at the end of the year. However, at this moment, it does appear Virginia is on track to meet, and exceed, budget projections.”

Attorney general warns of utility bill scam

Some Virginians have been receiving scam phone calls from people who claim to be an employee of their electric utility provider and demand immediate payment of their bill, according to the office of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

There have been several recent reports in which the caller claims to be a company employee and threatens to shut off electric service unless a delinquent bill is paid within a matter of hours. Those called are then encouraged to go to Walmart or another retailer to purchase a Green Dot Visa card or other pre-paid debit card so the money can be loaded onto the card and a payment can be made over the phone to the scammer.

The scammers appear to be specifically targeting Spanish-speaking customers, the elderly, and businesses in the state, according to Cuccinelli’s office. The scammers sometimes are able to gain an additional aura of legitimacy by “spoofing” the utility’s phone number, so the resident’s caller ID makes it appear to be a phone call from their utility.

Instances have been reported by customers of Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, Dominion Virginia Power, and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative.

Cuccinelli’s office said consumers should attempt to verify the identity of any person calling them to represent a business and should contact their utility company independently to verify their account status if they receive such a call.