Regional Transit Partnership meets for first time in 2021

All localities in the Thomas Jefferson Planning district except Nelson County experienced population growth in the last decade. To reduce the likelihood of traffic congestion, local governments and organizations are seeking ways to improve transit service throughout the community. 

Last week, the Regional Transit Partnership held its first meeting of the year. One of the first actions was to allow a group called the Charlottesville Area Alliance to sit on the body as a non-voting member. Jessica Hersh-Ballering is a transportation planner with the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. 

“The Charlottesville Area Alliance was formed in 2016 to lead the advancement of an age-friendly community,” Hersh-Ballering said. “Working with Albemarle and Fluvanna counties and the city of Charlottesville, they successfully applied to be a member of the AARP and World Health Organization’s age-friendly network to bring best practices to our area.” 

This year, work will begin to create a vision for regional transit, as well as a second study to determine how to increase bus service in Albemarle County on U.S. 29 North, Pantops and Monticello. The TJPDC has issued a request for proposals for a technical consultant to do work that is partially paid for through grants from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. 

Hersh-Ballering said study just got under way and the goal is to wrap it up in ten months in order to qualify for a different funding stream. 

“That timeline is really strict because we’re hoping the implementation plan will put a transit provider in the position to apply for a demonstration funding with the next round of funding applications from the DRPT,” Hersh-Ballering said. 

Currently, Albemarle pays Charlottesville Area Transit for fixed-route service. All but one routes currently terminate at the Downtown Transit Center. 

Hersh-Ballering said the regional transit vision will recommend where different types of transit should be ranging from express, high-frequency local, low-frequency local, and on-demand. 

“The corridor specific service recommendations are intended to be a visual document like a map that uses the initial work product to determine what type of transit service can be best supported on each corridor in the region,” Hersh-Ballering said. “If that sounds really familiar, that’s because that’s very similar to what Richmond did in their vision plan.”

The Richmond plan was endorsed by the Richmond Regional Transportation Planning Organization in April 2017. 

The RTP also heard details about potential changes to Charlottesville Area Transit routes. Read a story by Allison Wrabel in the Daily Progress

(This article first appeared in the March 2, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement)

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