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.
We are now six days into Try Transit Month, an effort to encourage people to consider using fixed-route or on-demand service to get around the community. It has now been 13 days since the Jefferson Area Regional Transit Partnership met on September 23 Since October 2017, the advisory body run by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District has served as a clearinghouse for different providers.
Karen Davis is the interim director of Jaunt and she stated one of the biggest challenges facing all bus fleets.
“The driver shortage continues,” Davis said. “Jaunt is going to move to match [University Transit Service] and [Charlottesville Area Transit’s] recruiting and retaining bonus programs to try to entice more people into the door.
Charlottesville Area Transit Route 5 will no longer serve the Rio Hill Shopping center, according to a release from the bus agency. The release states the property owner has requested the change, and that means two stops within the shopping center will become dormant. The 31 acre property is owned by SCT Rio Hill LLC, a firm associated with the retirement system for employees of the state of Connecticut.
The manager of the Rio Hill Shopping Center said in June 7 letter to the city that planned renovation implements a vision that does not involve public transit.
Upcoming changes to Charlottesville Area Transit routes are discussed
Before we get to a quick review of the Regional Transit Authority, two small pieces of Charlottesville Area Transit news. First, the free trolley-style bus that runs between downtown and the University of Virginia will return to traveling down McCormick Road through the heart of UVA Grounds. Second, additional service will be added to Route 9 during peak hours. That route currently travels between the University of Virginia Hospital, the Piedmont Family YMCA, Charlottesville High School, and downtown Charlottesville. CAT Director Garland Williams said the move is being made in the short-term to help with the start of the school year.
“Because we know there was going to be potentially some high schoolers that were going to use our service, we added additional service during the peak periods of time on Route 9,” Williams told the Regional Transit Partnership on Thursday.
Charlottesville Area Transit is in the midst of studying how it might increase its service into northern Albemarle County. The northernmost stop for CAT has for many years been at the Wal-Mart on U.S. 29.
(This article was originally part of the August 11, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement. Sign up today!)
At the same time, Albemarle County and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission are doing the exact same work as part of a study partially funded by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.
Boris Palchik is a transit planning project manager with Foursquare Integrated Transportation Planning, a firm hired to help conduct the work. The other consultant is Michael Baker International. Palchik ran a meeting on July 26 that sought to get initial feedback for the study.
“It’s really a feasibility study and implementation plan for expanding transit service in both population and employment centers in Albemarle County,” Palchik said.
Charlottesville Area Transit has held the first of two public input sessions about changes to bus routes intended to boost ridership. The agency has experienced a sharp ridership decline over the past several years, and relatively new director Garland Williams has overseen some potential changes.
“It is our intention to make sure that we get feedback and make adjustments to the CAT system that [are] fruitful to everyone and make sure the system is as productive as it possibly can be,” Williams said.
(This article originally appeared in the July 4, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement)
If you’re interested in driving less, and you want to know what’s happening to improve transit, a good place to start is the Jefferson Area Regional Transit Partnership. The group consists of representatives from Charlottesville Area Transit, Jaunt, and the University of Virginia Transit Service, as well as elected and appointed officials. It’s also a place where people can comment on transit issues.
On Monday night, Charlottesville City Council officially adopted a resolution canceling a project to build a 300-space parking garage at the corner of East Market Street and 9th Street. Part of the decision hinged on a notion of whether the city was doing enough to get people out of their cars and into other modes of transportation.
In 2015, the firm Nelson Nygaard conducted a study of parking downtown, and one of the recommendations was to maintain existing supply through something called “transportation demand management.”