In the nearly five years the Jefferson Area Regional Transit Partnership has been in existence, there have been many conversations about how various systems might be made more efficient. One idea that has been discussed is the combination of transportation for school pupils with regular transit.
“For Burlington, the school district has a handful of school buses for special needs kids but the majority of the school population rides Green Mountain Transit buses to school,” said Peggy O’Neill Vivanco, the Vermont Clean Cities Coordinator.
A series of speakers at Monday’s City Council meeting asked the elected officials to weigh in on a decision by Charlottesville Area Transit to relocate the bus stop at Crescent Halls, a public housing site that is currently undergoing renovations. The homes are currently served in both directions by Route 6 and the agency is making the change to help speed up the route.
That had not been the plan, according to one resident.
“We were told that they would pick up one side and when they come back they would let people off in front of the door,” said Alice Washington. “We need that. Crescent Halls is a senior and disability building.”
The Jefferson Area Regional Transit Partnership was created a few years ago to serve as a clearinghouse to improve the efficiency of public transit in a community with multiple service providers. At their recent meeting in March, they learned about how Dallas Area Rapid Transit has benefited from having an office of innovation.
“We now have the largest on-demand offering in North America,” said, Greg Elsborg, who has been Chief Innovation Officer since 2019.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board is expecting additional funding due to more favorable revenue forecasts, and agencies such as Charlottesville Area Transit will receive additional money this fiscal year. CAT Director Garland Williams told City Council on March 7 that his agency will receive an additional $980,599. About a third of that will be used for a study Williams told Council about at a work session on January 18. (watch the entire work session)
“We talked about doing alternative fuel vehicles as priority vision number two,” Williams said. “The $300,000 that will be earmarked will complete the feasibility study and help us to also develop the integration plan.”
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.
Jaunt has hired the head of the Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority to be its next chief executive officer. Ted Rieck will start work on December 6 and interim CEO Karen Davis will continue on as chief operating officer. In Tulsa, Rieck oversees a public transit fleet that serves five communities and has a $23 million budget.
According to the agenda for the most recent meeting of the authority’s seven-member board, Rieck has faced many of the same challenges facing transit agencies in our area such as a shortage of people willing to be drivers as well as COVID testing employees. According to the minutes of the August meeting, Rieck had announced his retirement from Tulsa to the board. (September meeting packet)
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.