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March 27, 2009

MPO asks transit working group to recommend next steps on RTA

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At their meeting on March 25, 2009, the MPO Policy Board learned more about a proposed phone survey to determine the public’s attitudes towards transit and decided to reconvene the Regional Transit Authority working group to recommend next steps in the pursuit of a joint transit authority for Charlottesville-Albemarle.

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In their recently completed session, the General Assembly passed legislation to allow Charlottesville and Albemarle County to form a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) to consolidate the governance of the existing Charlottesville Transit System (CTS). However, a second bill to allow City and County residents to vote in a referendum on a sales tax increase to pay for the RTA failed to make it out of the House Finance Committee.

That leaves a big question to be answered. Without new sources of funding, is it worth it for the two communities to form the RTA at this time? Supervisor David Slutzky (Rio) had requested the MPO discuss the issue at the March meeting. He suggested reconvening the RTA working group that was created following the joint Board-Council meeting in August 2008 when both bodies decided to pursue the RTA. Before that happens, though, both the Board of Supervisors and the Councilors need to decide for sure if they want to take that step.

20090325-Slutzky
Albemarle County Supervisor and MPO Chairman David Slutzky

“The first thing that group needs to really address is the practicality of creating the [RTA] without a dedicated funding source that is better than what we currently have,” said Supervisor Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett). He asked that CTS Director be present for those meetings so he could discuss the logistics of transferring CTS assets and employees to the RTA’s control. Rooker also asked for a timeline that showed all of the steps that would need to be taken to form the RTA. Slutzky said that he wanted to use the meeting to discuss the potential of seeking other funding options for the RTA.

The MPO also heard details of a telephone survey that will be conducted in April to gauge how citizens feel about transit and the possibility of increasing service through the RTA. This follows on the heels of an on-board rider survey conducted by the Charlottesville Transit Service in March. Over 3,000 passengers filled out paper questionnaires, and the data will be combined with the results of the telephone survey.

The Richmond-based Southeastern Institute of Research will be coordinating the project. Other initiatives to get public opinion include an effort to reach out to seniors,hourly U.Va employees, and the general public through an online survey. Recommendations collected from the responses will be presented at a public workshop to be held on May 2.

Sean Tubbs

TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:

  • 01:00 - MPO Meeting convenes, beginning with public comment from Jerry Deily on light rail
  • 02:45 - Public comment from Neil Williamson about the reliability of telephone surveys on transit
  • 05:30 - Public hearing on MPO’s Public Participation Plan
  • 14:00 – Public hearing on Draft FY10 United Planning and Work Program (UPWP)
  • 17:30 – Public hearing comment from Jerry Diely suggesting better way to organize studies to better achieve stimulus funding
  • 21:30 – Approval of minutes from February 2009 meeting
  • 22:30 – Discussion of Regional Transit Authority assessment toolkit
  • 32:30 – Councilor Julian Taliaferro said the survey was fairly long
  • 36:00 – Supervisor David Slutzky wonders if the phone survey will include a disclaimer that it is being funded by the MPO
  • 39:30 – JAUNT Representative wonders if cycling should be added as a mode of transportation
  • 41:00 – Comments from Southeastern Institute for Research representative Anna McIntosh
  • 44:30 – Discussion of next steps for the Regional Transit Authority
  • 54:30 – Councilor Julian Taliaferro asks MPO to include Jefferson School on its list for possible of getting Transportation Enhancement Act (TEA) funds to pay for historic preservation
  • 59:00 –MPO Program Coordinator Ann Whitham updates MPO on UNJAM 2035
  • 1:00:00 – Public comment from Jerry Deily about how to merge CTS personnel into RTA if it is formed
  • 1:01:00 – Public comment from Jeanne Chase of the Fry’s Spring Neighborhood Association regarding any plans to assist her community with traffic problems

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