PHAR seeks to keep Crescent Halls bus stop in place

A series of speakers at Monday’s City Council meeting asked the elected officials to weigh in on a decision by Charlottesville Area Transit to relocate the bus stop at Crescent Halls, a public housing site that is currently undergoing renovations. The homes are currently served in both directions by Route 6 and the agency is making the change to help speed up the route. 

That had not been the plan, according to one resident. 

“We were told that they would pick up one side and when they come back they would let people off in front of the door,” said Alice Washington. “We need that. Crescent Halls is a senior and disability building.” 

As such, Washington said many residents use wheelchairs or walkers to get around and need to be able to board the bus. That will be much harder if they have to walk what she said were the 89 steps to the new stop. 

“If they got to walk from way over here over there and some of these people are almost 80 or 90 years old, it’s impossible,” Washington said. 

The route changes have not yet been implemented, but can be reviewed on the Charlottesville Area Transit website.

“If you see me hear with my cart here again, my oxygen, and a thing full with food trying to walk 89 steps?” said Judy Sandridge said. “She walked 89 steps. I can’t do that.” 

Other voices included Brandon Collins, the redevelopment coordinator of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority who said keeping the bus stop where it is has been a high priority during renovation discussions. 

Another was Shelby Edwards, who succeeded Collins as the main voice of the Public Housing Association of Residents in her capacity as executive director. 

“PHAR has hosted both private and public conversations with CAT about this topic,” Edwards said. “We don’t understand why this has been such a laborious task. We know that that CAT would like to move to the 30 minute service to increase ridership, but this means little if the people who switch over already have other forms of transportation. Yes, we do want a world where everyone can use mass transit but we first need one where everyone who has no other form of transit can continue to move around freely.”

Council also heard directly from CRHA’s Executive Director, John Sales. 

“We need that bus stop in front of the building,” Sales said. 

Sales added that a site plan amendment to the Crescent Halls renovation would be required, which could delay the ability for residents to move back in. Sales also pointed out that the route change has not yet been finally approved by City Council. 

“So I just want to make sure that any other route changes that are going to be impacted by this 30 minute transition gets discussed because not only will Crescent Halls be impacted, but people all over the city are going to be impacted, without anyone knowing,” Sales said.

In 2021, Charlottesville Area Transit worked with a consultant to realign the routes, but the changes have not yet been implemented. Under the new changes, Route 6 would no longer travel to the University of Virginia Health System but would stil travel between Willoughby Shopping Center and Downtown. The route would also no longer travel on Ridge Street via Brookwood Drive. 

No action was taken at the meeting, but this morning Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders and CAT Director Garland Williams offered the following statement:

“The City Manager has asked staff to consider options regarding the bus stop service to residents of Crescent Halls, including the Paratransit service administered for the City by JAUNT.  There are multiple conversations in progress and a number of options are being considered but the iterative process of review, feedback, and costing is in full motion.  We will be convening all parties to review and determine workable options to present to Council as soon as possible.”

The route changes have not yet been made because of a lack of drivers that would be required to provide the additional service.

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 April 22, 2022 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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