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February 04, 2010

Watterson presents CTS route changes; Council skeptical of County service increase

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By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, February 4, 2010

The City Council has heard details of proposed changes to certain Charlottesville Transit Service routes, including a modification of Route 1B to serve the Mill Creek neighborhood in Albemarle County.  Council will decide on whether to implement the changes during their upcoming discussion of the budget for fiscal year 2011.

Podcast produced by Charlottesville Tomorrow * Player by Odeo

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20100201-CC-Transit

On Monday, CTS Director Bill Watterson presented an annual report on the industry, including a look at how Charlottesville fares when compared to transit systems in other communities.  He attributed ridership gains to increased partnership with the University Transit Service, better marketing campaigns and the central role played by the Downtown Transit Station.

“What the Downtown Transit Station has brought to Charlottesville is a lot of order from what used to be chaos,” said Watterson.  In addition, Watterson said route transfers are much more efficient, riders have a comfortable place to wait, and real-time bus tracking information has also helped improve the ability of riders to use the system.

Download Download CTS Director Watterson's presentation in .PDF form


At the conclusion, he suggested making the following route changes:

  • Route 1B/23: Route would be adjusted to drive down Avon Street Extended to Mill Creek, and then on to PVCC. Service on this route to the Belmont neighborhood would be reduced (revenue neutral).
  • Route 2B: Route would be adjusted to serve Region 10’s new facilities on Old Lynchburg Road (revenue neutral).
  • Route 3 & 6: Service would be increased to run every 30 minutes all day, and not just during peak hours ($55,000 in additional yearly costs).
  • Route 4: Service would no longer travel on Jefferson Park Avenue in anticipation of JPA Bridge being closed late this year. Route would also no longer use Bailey Road/Prospect Avenue. (revenue neutral).
  • Route 4: Service would be increased to run every 30 minutes all day, and not just during peak hours ($55,000 in additional yearly costs).
  • Route 6: Service would transition to serve Prospect Avenue (revenue neutral).
  • New Route would be created to serve Greenbrier neighborhood via Fashion Square Mall and Barracks Road ($195,000 yearly cost).

20100201-Route1B

Click to enlarge
Mayor Dave Norris said he would like to be able extend transit to Mill Creek which could bring access to the Tandem school, Monticello High School and several apartment complexes. However he said he was concerned changes to Route 1B would increase service in Albemarle County at the expense of Charlottesville.
 
Watterson said the county is not in a position to contribute additional funding at this time.  He said Belmont residents would benefit through the increased headways on Route 3 and 6.

“There is no intent to be taking service away from Belmont,” Watterson said.  He did acknowledge that some residents of that neighborhood would have to walk further to a bus stop.

Norris said he was not satisfied, but would wait to hear more details about potential county funding.

“If the only way that we can increase service in the county is by decreasing service in the city, I don’t see us being able to defend that publicly in the City,” Norris said.

Watterson said when he comes back to Council, he would provide information for how much the cost for increasing the service on Route 1B would be for Albemarle County.


20100201-Greenbrier-Route Click to enlarge
Councilor Satyendra Huja said service to Greenbrier could be done without additional cost by extending Route 9, which serves Charlottesville High School. Watterson said he was hesitant to change that route, which he said was put together up with input from the Greenleaf, Rose Hill and the Tenth and Page neighborhood associations.

“Each of them expressed what they would like to see connected,”  Watterson said. “All of those things have translated into higher ridership on Route 9.”  He added that if the Meadowcreek Parkway is complete, transit routes will be opened up in northern Charlottesville. 

Huja also said the incoming new president of UVA would present an opportunity to ask the University to consider a merger with the University Transit Service. Councilor Kristin Szakos said she would support a combined service, but urged the City to put pressure on UTS to pay its drivers a living wage.

Councilor David Brown pointed out that UVA has concerns about such a merger, but that he has been impressed by the efforts to increase the working partnership between the two transit agencies.

TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:

  • 01:00 - Watterson begins his presentation, including a comparison of Charlottesville/UTS to peer communities
  • 10:30 - Watterson describes why he thinks CTS has experienced ridership gains
  • 11:50 - Watterson begins describing revenue-neutral changes
  • 21:20 - Watterson describes new potential service to the Greenbrier neighborhood
  • 24:00 - Councilor Kristin Szakos asks question about Greenbrier route
  • 26:10 - Councilor Huja wants more service concentrated in the north of the Charlox`
  • 29:10 - Councilor Huja calls for a new route to serve Greenbrier via University and Downtown
  • 31:30 - Szakos asks if pressure can be put on University Transit System to pay their drivers a living wage
  • 34:30 - Councilor David Brown explains why the University is concerned about merging services
  • 39:30 - Mayor Norris expresses his concerns about proposed changes to Route 1B
  • 43:30 - Huja says the transit charette should be held sooner rather than later
  • 45:00 - Brown asks a question about time it takes for Route 1B to get to PVCC

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