Monthly Archives: February 2023

Planning continues for CAT to run microtransit in Albemarle County

Charlottesville Area Transit has a contract to work with Albemarle County to provide microtransit service in the area along U.S. 29 in the urban ring as well as in the Pantops area. 

“Microtransit is an on-demand transportation solution really being implemented across the nation and here in Virginia,” said Jessica Choi, a transit planner with the firm Kimley Horn. “Folks can make real time trip requests and those trips are dynamically routed and programmed through the application and the vehicle is dynamically routed to serve those trips.” 

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UTS continues night-service pilot, should receive four electric buses this year

The University Transit Service offers 15-minute headways while school is in session. Last year, the service began to offer some late-night service. Kendall Howell is the assistant director of UTS.

“We run one route that kind of goes through most popular areas like the library, the Corner, the dorms,” Howell said. “And then we run what used to be known as Safe Ride but it has been rebranded as UTS On-Demand.” 

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Albemarle Schools continues to seek ways to address drive shortages

One of the main issues facing any transit agency is the shortage of drivers. That’s certainly the case for pupil transportation at Albemarle County Public Schools. Charmane White is the director of transportation and she said her team is preparing a strategic plan to address the issue. 

“Part of that recruitment and retention, as you know, is that we went up to $21.50 an hour,” White said. 

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Jaunt provides update at Regional Transit Partnership

Every single meeting of the RTP begins with a chance for people to speak out about transit-related issues. At the January meeting, the town manager of Scottsville put in a word for Jaunt, the only transit service to serve his community and Buckingham County. 

“I just want to represent the Scottsville neighbors who rely on this service,” said Matt Lawless. “Elders going to appointments and the few younger commuters who are really happy to use Jaunt regularly in their commuter service.” 

That cued up an update from Jaunt to begin the year. Jaunt is a public service corporation with stock held by five area localities.  (view the presentation)

“Our organizational structure is the same as [Greater Richmond Transit Company] in Richmond,” said Ted Rieck, the CEO of Jaunt. “We think we’re a good investment. Other studies have shown that every dollar spent on transit turns over seven times in the community.” 

Rieck does not shy away from acknowledging a rocky few years for Jaunt. 

“Jaunt has been set with challenge over the last couple of years,” Rieck said. “That’s no news. A couple of years ago the agency became embroiled in controversy with staff members that made some bad decisions.” 

One of those was to mix federal funds for rural service with federal funds for urban service. The Federal Transit Administration penalizes such actions. This will have a strain on the ability to purchase new rolling stock that serves the rural area. Rieck said a future Regional Transportation Authority will have to contend with many of these same issues. 

A chart from the Jaunt presentation shows that in FY21, federal funding was used to cover more of the operating budget for Jaunt in Louisa (Credit: Jaunt)  

Jaunt is planning for the future by being ready to provide microtransit service, planning for the use of alternative fuels, and recovering ridership that is still rebounding post-pandemic. They have applied for a grant to begin implementing the recommendation of a committee that suggests going electric is the answer for fixed-route 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 February 14, 2023 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

Afton Express to expand service in 2023

One of the topics discussed over the years at the Regional Transit Partnership has been planning for new service in the Staunton area and the Charlottesville area. The Afton Express launched on September 1, 2021 and the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission recently issued an annual report for the first 16 months of service. 

“Despite launching the service in the midst of a global pandemic when many commuters were working from home, a small group of dedicated riders showed up and have continued riding ever since,” reads the executive summary of the report. “This group of passengers grows each month.” 

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