Council considers spending $30K toward governance study; Jaunt hopes to play a role

On Monday night, Charlottesville City Council heard the first of two readings on $30,000 toward a governance study being overseen by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District to determine the best way to move toward a Regional Transportation Authority.  I’ll have more details on that in a future installment of the newsletter, but earlier in the meeting they got a presentation from Ted Rieck, the executive director of Jaunt. 

“Our sole purpose for existing is to really empower people and give them independence in their lives,” Rieck said. “People want to have their own way of living and we think our transportation service provides people that opportunity.” 

Jaunt was formed in 1975 as a paratransit agency intended to give rides to senior and disabled individuals to medical appointments. 

In recent years under a different CEO, Jaunt began providing fixed-route commuter service to Crozet, the North Fork Discovery Park, and other areas. Rieck said Jaunt wants to also be a provider of microtransit service that works on-demand. 

“We think people’s lives would be better served by a more spontaneous transportation system and we’re looking at doing that at different parts of our service area,” Rieck said. 

A slide from the Jaunt FY22 Annual Report to Charlottesville (download the report

That service area, by the way, is a 2,700 square mile area, much larger than either Charlottesville Area Transit or the University Transit System. 

In the meantime, Jaunt is also stepping up marketing efforts to attract riders who stopped using the service during the pandemic. 

Rieck made no immediate mention of the Regional Transit Vision Plan or the governance study that’s underway to determine how to move toward a Regional Transportation Authority. He also didn’t mention that CAT won the grant to provide microtransit in Albemarle County during a pilot project expected to begin next year.

City Councilor Michael Payne asked Rieck how he saw Jaunt fitting into that work. Rieck said Jaunt is participating and hopes to be part of the future. 

“The model that exists in the Richmond area has independent systems kind of being coordinated by an authority so that’s one particular model,” Rieck said. “Another model is a combined transit system, one agency giving all doing all things. A lot will depend on what that study shows.” 

Rieck also said Jaunt would like to bid on the microtransit service to be piloted in Albemarle. If not, they will seek to offer microtransit elsewhere. 

Rieck also appeared before City Council in July. Read my story on that appearance. Jaunt’s annual shareholder meeting is on October 12.  I’ll have more on regional transit from the September 22 meeting of the Regional Transit Partnership in a future edition of the program. 

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 September 23, 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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