Albemarle County Bus Funding In Debate

By: Venton D. Blandin
By: Venton D. Blandin

April 11, 2005

We've all heard the song saying, "the wheels on the bus go round and round all through the town", but that may not be the case in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. Some of our wheels could be stopping.

Indeed they could if the City of Charlottesville and County of Albemarle can't agree on the funding of the buses. The possibility is bringing passengers to a screeching halt.

Looking at the Pantops Shopping Center in Albemarle County, you can see there are lots of people shopping. How did they get there? Perhaps, by car, walking, or by bus. In fact, several of them come and go by bus every day.

Mary Hargrove, a frequent bus-rider says, "I have to be to work at 7:00 a.m., and with the bus running at 6:30 a.m., it's the only way I can get to work."

The route Mary rides is number 10, which is the very route being considered for cancellation. The path traveled by bus 10 spreads from Downtown to the Pantops Shopping Center.

At the center of the debate between the city and county is the amount of the county's contribution. For Albemarle County, next year's budget says over $470,000 should be contributed to the bus systems. By stopping the buses, the difference in what county supervisors want to pay the city for using their busses, and what the city is asking for; the county could save about $200,000.

The total of Charlottesville Transit Service's operational budget for 2006 is almost four million dollars. Part of the four million is paid by the city's general fund, Virginia Department of Transportation, and with state and federal grants. The rest totaling around $900,000 is funded by rider fares and Albemarle County.

The bus not only affects those shopping, it also affects students. One professor who also rides the bus on occasion says the service is needed to allow his students a safe way home after studying at the library late at night. John Hancock offered his advice to the county. "I'd like to see them find a way to cut money, but I'd also like to see them find a way to keep the service moving. I'd like to see the county step up to the plate a little bit more," the local professor said.

Fellow bus-riders agree. "I mean they are not thinking about the families and others that are involved. People have got to get to work," said Clayton Moneymaker, a local bus-rider.

If the county doesn't pay its difference, the wheels on the bus could stop leaving the city, headed to the county.

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