Regional transit agencies update partnership on pandemic service

Even though the University of Virginia is not yet in session, activity around Grounds has increased. The University Transit Service (UTS) is running on a new set of routes in part because McCormick Road is now closed to motorized vehicles. Becca White is Parking and Transportation Director at UVA and she spoke at yesterday’s meeting of the Regional Transit Partnership (RTP). 

“We’re already seeing more passengers riding this week than pretty much we had all summer on any route besides our employee routes,” White said. “But we are still limiting to 20 passenger boarding. We’re still using all the same precautions. Rear door boarding. A barrier in the aisle so that passengers can’t get six feet from the drivers.” 

White said UTS will continue to run if in-person instruction does not happen, and that there would not be as many buses.  She said Jaunt, Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT) and UTS have created a makeshift transit hub on Whitehead Road. 

CAT director Garland Williams told the RTP Board that his agency continues to run on its restricted “lifeline” service. He said there is an protocol by which drivers get frequent tests. 

“CAT did have one positive case,” Williams said. “That individual has gotten over it and we are really fortunate it wasn’t a bad case. They have returned back to work. We have a testing program that is in place that happens every other week, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.” 

The RTP also got an update on new daily bus that travels through Charlottesville between Danville and D.C. The Piedmont Express is being funded by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation as part of its growing fleet of Virginia Breeze bus lines. Neil Sherman with the DRPT said the agency decided to proceed even with the pandemic. 

“For many reasons right now the ridership is very low but we just thought it was time to get the bus operating,” Sherman said. “There is a restriction of I think it’s 27 riders which is normally a 50 passenger coach and masks are required.” 

The Piedmont Express also calls on Dulles Airport. The RTP also learned about another bus service that will soon be launched between Staunton and Charlottesville. The project known as the Afton Express has been shepherded by the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC). Sara Pennington of the TJPDC said bus line awaits final funding approval, but is moving forward. 

“They have finalized all of their logos, branding and the color schemes,” Pennington said. They have gotten the route timings and the stops have been finalized.”


Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the August 28, 2020 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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