As it seeks to find new drivers, Charlottesville Area Transit is also working to redesign its bus shelters. The agency has hired the firm Wendel Companies to come up with a customized template, and the Regional Transit Partnership got a briefing on the work last month.
“We’re really looking at how to look at transit holistically, how to encourage people to take transit,” said Jeana Stright of Wendel Companies. “Part of what makes people want to take public transportation is having a place to wait for the bus, having amenities while you are there, or having a system for what reflects their needs.”
There are 54 days until Charlottesville City Schools begin for the next academic year. The school system is seeking assistance and input on alternative methods of getting students to school as an ongoing transportation crisis continues.
“As we look to fall 2022, our school bus challenges appear to be worse, not better,” reads a website set up to provide information in advance.
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.
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.
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.
In April, transit officials from Vermont briefed the Regional Transit Partnership on efforts in the Green Mountain State to use public transportation to get students to their schools. (read the story)
That has led to further discussion on the matter in Albemarle County. Charmane White is the new director of the transportation division for Albemarle schools and she spoke at the partnership’s meeting on May 26.
“I am having conversations now with our my supervisors and the Superintendent to look at how we would roll this out and of course we would have to get our community ready for this and parents and the administrators because this is just a different approach to what we have taken,” White said.
Albemarle County acted unconstitutionally when it demanded the developer of the Hollymead Town Center begin making $50,000 annual payments for a transit route operated by Jaunt. That’s according to a Virginia Supreme Court opinion issued this morning by Justice S. Bernard Goodwyn. (read the opinion)
“While a state, under its police power, may regulate land use to further legitimate state interests, it may not use this power as a cudgel to coerce concessions from a land-use applicant who seeks to repurpose her property,” reads the opinion.
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.
It has been nearly a dozen years since Amtrak running daily service through Charlottesville and we are perhaps months away from when a long-awaited second train will begin work. This week, the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority’s Board of Directors met and got an update from executive director D.J. Stadtler, who said a deal with Norfolk Southern has to be closed. He expects that to happen next month or early in July. (meeting material)
“It’s only when that close takes place that we can start the new service,” Stadtler said. “There are three trains waiting for that close. One is the new Roanoke train which would be the second-round trip. One is the [third] Newport News train that was paused due to COVID/Amtrak staffing issues. And then the third one is the new Norfolk train.”
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.