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.
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.
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