The final public meeting for the development of a Regional Transit Vision will be held tonight in an online format. The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission is overseeing the study, which seeks to come up with an aspirational document for enhanced public transportation throughout the entire Charlottesville area including Buckingham County.
The draft document has gone before the Charlottesville City Council and the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, as I’ve reported. But the Regional Transit Vision also has been to the outlying counties. Last week, Boards of Supervisors in both Fluvanna County and Greene County had a briefing.
“It started in the summer of 2021 with assessing the situation,” said Lucinda Shannon, a planner with the TJPDC. The $350,000 study was conducted by the firms AECOM and Jarrett Walker + Associates.
The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation has awarded a $1.552 million grant to Charlottesville Area Transit to operate a demonstration project for microtransit service in Albemarle County. That includes a match of $388,000 in local funds. The service could take up to a year to get underway, according to Lucinda Shannon, a transportation planner with the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission.
Similar projects have been implemented at various stages across the nation. The city of Wilson, North Carolina with a population of around 50,000 people replaced its fixed route service with on-demand shuttles in September 2020.
Fiscal Year 2023 is just over a month old, but the budget process in Virginia never really stops as local governments seek to provide services. In April, Council adopted a $212.9 million general fund budget that was 10.76 percent higher than the one for the year before. That’s built on increased assessments for both real estate and personal property as well as a one-cent increase in the real estate tax rate. That was the first such increase in several decades.
There are about 30 weeks until whoever is City Manager in March 2023 presents a recommended budget and 36 weeks until Council is expected to adopt their amended document. Council got a briefing this past Monday and learned about some of the factors coming up and some suggested the schedule be moved up. (view the presentation)
Before the pandemic, Charlottesville Area Transit hired the firm Nelson Nygaard to take a look at its routes to suggest changes to optimize service. The study was done but nothing has been implemented so far. The Jefferson Area Regional Transit Partnership got an update at their meeting yesterday.
“CAT planned on implementing that system optimization plan last year but they’ve been dealing with driver shortages like every other transit agency in the country so that’s been postponed,” said Jim Baker of Nelson Nygaard.
Consultants hired by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission are moving into the second phase of a community engagement effort for a $350,000 plan to create a regional transit vision to make public transportation a more attractive option.
They have developed both a constrained plan that would anticipate around $26 million funds that might be generated through becoming a regional transportation authority with taxation power, as well as one that assumed funding would be found to increase the frequency of service. That has an estimated annual price tag of $70 million.
Work is nearing completion on a conceptual study for how public transport might work better across the entirety of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District. Today the Board of Supervisors will get an up close look at the $350,000 Regional Transit Vision.
Last week, an appointed body consisting of elected officials and transit officials got an update on the Regional Transit Vision.
“The project is a collaborative effort to evaluate and establish a clear long term vision for transit service in the region, and not just the urbanized area but also the rural areas surrounding Charlottesville and Albemarle County,” said Tim Brulle of AECOM is the project manager for the vision plan.
Consultants hired by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission to craft a vision for how public transportation might work better in the Charlottesville area will present more details next Thursday.
The firm AECOM is the lead consultant with Jarrett Walker and Associates serving as a subcontractor. The study may recommend the eventualtransition to a unified regional transit authority. (meeting info)
“There will be a 90 minute presentation from the consultants to go over what we’ve done so far, survey the results of the first round of public engagement, and then also what they found for the vision for the community,” said Lucinda Shannon, a transportation planner for the TJPDC.
In yesterday’s newsletter, there’s a lot of information about planning for a Regional Transit Vision that may include formation of an authority that could raise funds for expanded service. There’s also a second study underway to determine the feasibility of additional routes to serve urbanized portions of Albemarle County as well as Monticello. The results are in from a survey conducted on two potential scenarios according to Lucinda Shannon, a transportation planner with the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. (project website)
“They found that most of the services that people selected in that public outreach was scenario 2 for all three of the areas which is a lot of microtransit connecting with some fixed routes,” Shannon said.
It has been some time since I’ve had an update on transit issues and now is the time to do so. Earlier this month, the members of the Regional Transit Partnership got an informal recommendation from a consultant that it may be time to move from an advisory body into a decision-making body that can raise its own funds.
Before we get into all of that, though, there is still time to take two surveys to get your input on the Regional Transit Vision for the Charlottesville Area. That’s a project being led by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District to “evaluate transit service” in the region in order to “establish a clear long-term vision for efficient, equitable, and effective transit service.”
Do you have something to say about how our area bus systems should work? Tonight you’ll have your chance to weigh in on a Regional Transit Vision that could guide the future. Lucinda Shannon is a transportation planner with the Thomas Jefferson Planning District who briefed a technical committee of the Metropolitan Planning Organization on Tuesday.
“I’m really hoping you guys will all sign up for the public meeting which is Thursday night at 6:30 p.m.,” Shannon said. “There’s also surveys on both of the TJPDC transit projects.”
The TJPDC is also conducting a separate study of the expansion of transit in Albemarle County.