Two out of five phases completed for transit governance study

There are many words to be written and stories to be documented about the future of public transit in the community. Both Albemarle and Charlottesville contributed financially to a study last year that imagined a more robust system, and are now paying for a second study to find a governance structure that could bring down more funding from the state and federal government. 

There are five phases in this study with the first being a list of existing conditions. A second phase looked at peer communities such as Blacksburg and Ithaca, New York, and this has just been completed. (view the March 21 presentation)

“Where we are looking at governance structures of other transit agencies in similar areas,” said Stephanie Amoaning-Yankson is with AECOM, the firm hired to conduct both of the studies to date. “Phase three will look at potential revenue generation.” 

That revenue would go to try to implement the Regional Transit Vision, a document which cost $350,000 to produce. It produced one aspirational bus system for the entire Thomas Jefferson Planning District that would cost $70 million a year to operate and a second that would cost closer to $35 million. 

“Once we have some potential sources down, then we will start to craft some alternatives for governance scenarios of what that would look like,” Amoaning-Yankson said. 

That’s phase four. Phase five would produce a finalized governance structure and funding strategies. That will come out of interviews with Charlottesville Area Transit, Jaunt, and University Transit Service. 

“We got to understand how they are organized, understand their organizational structure, and what the governance looks like,” Amoaning-Yankson said. “We also discussed what their funding situation is like and how they interact as far as where their services overlap and how they coordinate in that area.” 

A previous effort to create a Regional Transit Authority in the late 2000’s resulted in enabling legislation passing the General Assembly. However, the entity was not formed because a second bill to allow a sales tax referendum did not make it out of committee. The legislation is still on the books but does not alone come with any power to generate revenues. 

“Because we have the existing legislation that is set up for the CARTA we can call it, we can look at either modifying that to address whatever changes we would want in the entire region based on this process that we are going through,” Amoaning-Yankson said.

Other options might include a transportation authority or creation of a larger public service corporation. The latter is how Jaunt is set up. There are also other examples from other university communities.  More details on this as the study continues. 

A comparison of four different types of entities, including the never-created CARTA (Credit: AECOM) 

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 5, 2023 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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