Social Services’ Clients Can’t Get There

In yesterday’s Daily Progress, Jessica Kitchin looked at a really ridiculous problem that the county has created for itself:

When Albemarle County resident Mary Steppe visits the county’s Department of Social Services, it is literally an uphill effort.


The 42-year-old mother of three estimates that she walks about a mile each time she has to visit social services at the Albemarle County Office Building on Fifth Street Extended. Currently, there is no public transportation to the building, which means many of the county’s neediest residents have to walk, bike or get a ride in order to get food stamps, housing vouchers or other social services resources.

Some will recall that this office was located on the Downtown Mall until a few years ago when, crazily, it was relocated way outside of town off the bus line. When they moved it I told anybody who would listen that it was one of the dumbest things I’d seen Albemarle do, planning-wise, in some years. It’s a big county, and no single location will easily serve a great many people. But a lot more people were served when it was downtown than when it was plopped down Fifth Street. Is there even a sidewalk going out there?

6 thoughts on “Social Services’ Clients Can’t Get There”

  1. But there’s little or no public transportion throughout the county anyhow. The bus line serves mainly city residents anyhow,and a few county residents on the outskirts. How could someone from Batesville or Howardsville have gotten to it when it was Downtown either? They’d still have to get near town to access CTS. Then again, maybe a county-wide public transit system is needed. Lets hope they do a better job than the city. CTS is pathetic. No way will it ever get people with cars using it as inefficient as it is, only those who have no other choice.

  2. Jaunt provides paratransit services for county residents needing transportation. From their webpage:

    All residents of Albemarle County are eligible to use JAUNT services, but the fare structure benefits seniors and people with disabilities.
    In several areas of Albemarle County, JAUNT offers scheduled route services which are open to the general public at the published prices.

    I’d urge people to take a look at their website and faq. This could be a place where they might offer service.

    Jim Duncan’s blog had a similar thread on issues of local public transportation which you can find here.

  3. I think this is a problem, however Albemarle is over 700 square miles and it dwarfs the city in terms of size and roads. Mass transit to all of Albemarle is a very long term problem. I have no idea of how someone from Scottsville, without a car does government business other than Jaunt.

    That being said I think from what I have observed that CTS is woefully underused. Our buses are too large and underused. Why can’t we have many more smaller buses that go on more routes. For example buses can’t come down east Rio for some reason with passengers but they can take the same road empty. I haven’t yet figured that out but smaller buses might be able to travel that route. How does a carless city resident get to Meadowcreek park?

    Jaunt is probably the most effective strategy for the short term.
    Transportation is the most talked about issue (besides growth) that has the least amount of actual work done.

  4. A few years ago CTS ran a bus line out to the 5th Street Ext.Willoughby area, but it was discontinued.
    I have no experience with JAUNT but know people whose elderly or handicapped family members have used it and have had real problems with reliability,not showing up at the proper time, etc.
    Have had considerable experience with CTS. Well, all I can say its better than nothing, but its pretty lame. Should stand for Charlottesville Timewasting Service. Someone who works on 29N/Rio area spends the an 8 hour work day getting back and forth each week.
    They never will get get anyone but those who have no alternative with this miserable service. Perlogik’s comment is right on target-empty buses and school buses use Rio, but not CTS. If Rio is safe enough for bues carrying our kids why not CTS?
    When designing routes, they needed to ask a simple question. How do I get someone from their start to their destination as quickly as possible?
    If you are going from Downtown or Belmont to the 29North/Rio Square area you would take Rio Road, or McIntire Road/250 bypass. You would not go by way of West Main Street St. Yet CTS has some sort of fixation on having nearly all its buses from Downtown going up West Main.
    Makes sense if you are going to the University area, or maybe even Barracks Road Shopping Center But not Fashion Square or Wal-Mart.
    And the best the city can do is this new transfer station, instead of more and more logically-designed bus routes. That might even cut back on all the transferring which people have to do now,which is a nuisance both to them, and to other riders who are delayed waiting for transfers.

  5. Hollow Boy wrote:

    I have no experience with JAUNT but know people whose elderly or handicapped family members have used it and have had real problems with reliability,not showing up at the proper time, etc.

    The reason for that is because Paratransit’s function like a cross between a bus service and a taxi service;

    1- It functions as a Bus service- in that they have to *try* to accommodate everyone that makes a reservation for a trip whether or not they have the staffing available for the volume… they aren’t allowed to say no.

    2- It functions as a taxi in that their routing is more flexible than bus services- so (apart from the am and pm commuter routes) it may not be the same fixed route from day to day.

    As for your other observations about the CTS, I think those are spot on.

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