Bus Rapid Transit Would Cost $100M+

The proposed city/county bus rapid transit system would cost over $100M, Seth Rosen writes in today’s Daily Progress. Both municipalities have agreed to petition the General Assembly for permission to create a joint transit authority, but there’s not much agreement how that will manifest itself. The most expensive option is to create bus-only lanes along 29 N, allowing mass transit to become a faster means of commuting than driving.

This seems to be a lot like the “need” for an larger, $19M sewer line running up 29 N. If we intend to continue our rate of growth then, yes, these things do qualify as needs. But if we look at the costs of a new lane, new buses, a new sewer pipe, a new fire station, new schools, etc., and decide that it’s too much, then we’re obligated to limit our growth accordingly and live within our means.

63 Responses to “Bus Rapid Transit Would Cost $100M+”


  • I used to live in a city with a population of nearly 250,000. The city has an 8-lane US highway running right through it, just like C’ville and I never (NEVER!) saw the kind of traffic I see on US29.

    There are bigger issues to C’ville’s traffic situation than whatever a rapid transit bus system will take care of.

    By the way, is it just me or would implementing an HOV-like lane be a better option given the $10.6M annual price tag of a rapid transit bus system and 78% drive alone statistic? At least it would remove cars from the road and not just add “larger and more attractive vehicles” to an already congested road.

  • How about the friggin bypass finally being built? Or the Meadowcreek Parkway?

    I only see about 5 people on each bus now.

  • The Meadowcreek Parkway construction begins this week, I think — the power lines that run through there are going to be relocated.

    The cost of the bypass dwarfs the $100M. Plus, as study after study has shown, it would do absolutely nothing whatsoever to improve traffic on 29N because, seriously, how many cars do you ever see on 29S? It’s not like people are going anywhere south of us.

  • There will always be those who insist that all roads end in C-ville, but you, Waldo?
    Hopefully state dollars won’t be spent on so much as a study of this ridiculous plan.
    To answer the first post, C-ville’s problem is that there is only one major road (with 250 coming in a distant second) that is practical for getting one from point A to point B. Roanoke, Lynchburg, Blacksburg, even Staunton have all utilized limited access roads to move traffic through their urbanized areas.

  • The real problem is that when the writing was on the wall years ago that 29 was getting hellish and was only going to get worse, the solution proposed and then implemented was to widen it and add stoplights. Great idea. Then develop it more, so it would have to be “improved” again — and soon. Then it got where it is now – essentially beyond repair – or hope.

  • Several things have been proposed over the years. What is the best thing now, though?

    As for mass transit, I am on a soapbox about whether it would be possible to tap funds from CHO airport. CHO has a dedicated funding stream (its own taxes and fees) and seems to have trouble finding ways to spend all its riches. Another traffic circle maybe? ;) It wants to splurge on a longer runway. That’s a very technical matter, and when you research it, you end up reading consultants reports. I had though, well 737’s used to fly into CHO, but as it turns out some of the new big commuter jets need longer runways, or the consultants say they do, taking into account heat, humidity, etc., and maybe added safety margins. (CHO proposed lengthening the runway for 747’s about 30 years ago. That was nixed, and then we lost even 737’s due to new airline practices).

    Mass transit up 29N may seem like a dream, but I put it out there as a question. Rail or busway from CHO to UVa would be used by some proportion of commuters, esp. as traffic gets worse. Look at the number of people who use Metro in D.C. and how much higher property values are near the suburban stations. I realize Cville is smaller by repeated factors of 10.

    As for how the current n-lane 29N, with added interchanges, might work, maybe somebody can comment on how well or poorly US-50 / Arlington Blvd. in NoVa functions.

  • The projected cost of the Meadowcreek Parkway and new 250 interchange is $69 million to $76 million.

  • Which project….Mass Transit system or Meadowcreek Parkway will do the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people? Simple….the Meadowcreek Parkway. Mass transit will never serve more than a few people. Just look at the buses running now the next time you are out and about..1 or 2 passengers….for all intents and purposes empty. Mass Transit is never going to replace the automobile. It’s time for the local loons to stop spending taxpayer money on mass transit and start spending taxpayer money on projects that will do the greatest amount of good for the citizens of Charlottesville and Albemarle County.
    As far as land development goes…this is a way of life and it will continue…you cannot point out one place in the U.S. where development has been halted or stopped….at best you will only slow it down…..

  • Meadowcreek is happening. The debate is over mass transit vs. a very outdated plan for a 29 bypass. The 29 bypass plan would speed the trip to Lynchburg, which has no interstate access, but like Waldo says, not 29N itself.

    About roads & empty buses: show me a place where road building has worked. Then again, every place with heavy mass transit has heavy traffic too. ??

    Like, 29N was great for the first few years after the big expansion, what, in the early 1990’s? But now people seem to think it is intolerable and the problem much larger and harder to solve then it was then.

    I guess it comes down to your idea of community: downtown mall & walking, or home depot & a cul-de-sac. Peak oil may make the decision for us, but then it will be too late. Or may already have.

  • Mass transit will never serve more than a few people.

    Uh. Ever been to New York? Washington? Seattle? Boston? London? Paris?

    you cannot point out one place in the U.S. where development has been halted or stopped

    Really? Do you want to make this interesting?

  • For $100 million, Charlottesville could buy every man, woman, and child in the city limits a brand new Prius.

  • Really? Do you want to make this interesting?

    Yes. Please. :)

  • Waldo, I’ve been to a couple of those places. The majority of people still rely on their own personal mode of transportation…Automobile…..If mass transit is so efficient why did Boston spend so much on the “big” dig…i.e… highway. Mass transit dictates when I can come and go…where I can and cannot go to and from….I like my own personal freedom to come and go as I please and go to where I want. You people that support mass transit have to come up with a better argument for supporting mass transit or it will never be supported….fact……And yes I want you to make this interesting…..

  • A limited access route around the urban area (not merely designed to bypass the area) might cost more than a BRT, but would serve many more people. Of course, if you severely limit access points (as the original bypass plan does) the route would not benefit nearly as many. As the most developed area in the region follows 29, using a model such as that which was used in Christiansburg/Blacksburg along US 460 would make sense and would definitely take care of traffic issues… and would also result thru traffic along the corridor moving smoothly. Most vehicles pollute far less moving at 55-60 than 35-45, particularly large trucks.

  • Come back to BBurg in fifteen years and see how that development model is working out.

  • I don’t think that anyone will be plopping down stoplights on 460 in the next 15 years! Traffic gets tied up on Seminole because of stoplights at the intersecting roads. Between the two US 460 routes their are 10 (5 east and 5 west) lanes; 6 at 35-45 mph and 4 at 55 with no stops. That corridor can handle a good deal more traffic than Seminole and give better access to those who want to stop at any particular area along the corridor. Apparently, planners in Montgomery County are much more forward thinking than their Albemarle counterparts.

  • Waldo, it might be more instructive to take about those places (under 250,000)that have viable mass transit. For every New York there are multiple Los Angles with expensive and under used systems.

    The problem with local transit it is cumbersome and unreliable. Too few big buses going too slowly to fewer places to justify leaving my car at home.

    The real change has to come at the top. Don’t buy large city buses that are never filled when smaller buses would allow you to go more places with more trips. Mass transit has been the system used by people who don’t have cars. It must become a creature of the marketplace and sell me that it can replace my auto at a lower cost and higher convenience. Otherwise this will waste tax dollars that could be better spent building the roads that my car will need.

    The marketplace is a cruel mistress but is right more often then city planners.

  • The new transit authority purses will be as flush as the airport authority’s, since they have similar revenue-raising powers.
    Quite frankly, I see no problem with traffic on 29N and I have been driving it for multiple decades. I don’t expect to have to deal with other cars when I fly, take the train or boat. Otherwise, I make room for cars and trucks. That’s what roads are for. When I don’t feel like being bothered with a lot of traffic, I don’t drive. That way I don’t require hundreds of millions of dollars being spent every ten years or so in order for me to see fewer cars when I’m going somewhere. Of course, that attitude won’t help tomr, because he feels he should be able to travel from Lynchburg to Culpeper without having to stop at stop lights. His best solution is using a small engine plane and skip it all.

  • Cville Eye, you don’t know me well enough to be in touch with my feelings! I really don’t care about driving from Lynchburg to Culpeper, and my employees only drive the route at night. In relation to funding, this proposed transit system would cost the local taxpayer more than any highway project. US 29 upgrading projects are federally funded as opposed to a project that draws some of its funds from local “taxing” power.
    If you put it to a vote, I would be surprised if the majority would be against a limited access highway. A well planned and functional route would pay much more dividends and benefit the region more than a BRT or, as has been floated before, a light rail system. I would venture to say that no matter how much we try to hash it out here, we will probably not live to see a limited access road or a white elephant mass transit system because nobody has the funds or the will to make it happen!
    By the way, If I wanted to go from Lynchburg to DC, I’d just take that new train that Meredith has been pushing for.

  • Waldo, I’ve been to a couple of those places. The majority of people still rely on their own personal mode of transportation…Automobile

    No. The “majority of people” in New York City do not rely on automobiles to get around. The majority of New York City households do not own a car. 75% of Manhattan residents rely solely on mass transit. Any area with sufficient population density can use mass transit quite nicely.

    And yes I want you to make this interesting…..

    Ah, good. I hoped you might.

    Here’s the bet. If I can prove you wrong that “[I] cannot point out one place in the U.S. where development has been halted or stopped…” then you will donate $25 to Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation. If I cannot, then I will donate $25 to the local 501(c)3 non-profit of your choice.

    Deal?

    Perlogik wrote:

    Waldo, it might be more instructive to take about those places (under 250,000)that have viable mass transit. For every New York there are multiple Los Angles with expensive and under used systems.

    It might be more instructive, but Jogger’s assertion is that mass transit has not succeeded at all, anywhere.

  • Come on Waldo, sure sign of a looser when he wants to bet money on a blog….Inquiring minds want to know this place where development has been halted or stopped….If you can point out this place I am sure the ABoS would like to know so that they can use it as a model to stop development and growth in Albemarle County..How ’bout it Waldo???

  • You’re right, tomr, I don’t know you, but we have been around the barnyard about this bypass before. Your position was that people could travel around Charlottesville a lot faster than taking 29N through it because of the traffic lights. If that’s not the problem, then what problem exactly do you have with 29N the way it is?

  • Waldo, I’ll guess Denver.

  • Is the wager (and I think Waldo has proposed a good one) based on Waldo providing an example of successful mass transit or a city/region which has halted development? Many would argue that successful mass transit has nothing to do with halting development but would rather lend itself to so called “smart” growth. In fact I would guess that a city that has successfully implemented mass transit (affordable, fast and easy to use) is very attractive to employers and employees and that such transportation might even increase development.

    I suppose it depends on your definition of the term “development” and I feel like the word takes a number of different meanings on this blog.

  • So, Jogger, just to be clear: you are not, in fact, willing to take this bet?

  • You know what’s a sure sign that someone is just spouting off and can’t back up his/her position? Not being willing to put any money where his/her mouth is. If I know Waldo, he will provide the examples that he’s aware of where development has been halted, but first we’re going to have watch jogger try to weasel and squirm before admitting he was just making an uninformed assertion.

  • Is the wager (and I think Waldo has proposed a good one) based on Waldo providing an example of successful mass transit or a city/region which has halted development?

    The wager is based only on “one place in the U.S. where development has been halted or stopped.” As foolish as it would be to take that bet, it’d be way more foolish to bet against successful mass transit. There’s no question that NYC’s century-long mass transit system is a raging success. And, of course, other cities and nations throughout the world have had equal success.

  • I’ve never brought up the subject of Cville having too much traffic; I’ve only responded to the people who say there is no issue or who come up with plans to remedy a problem that doesn’t really exist.
    I think that it is rather comical to see all the special interest groups that push one agenda or another (Ruckersville Parkway, Meadowcreek, BRT, light rail, split level interchanges), all the while poo-pooing the alternatives because, they insist, there is no real traffic problem.

  • tomr, please forgive me for confusing you with someone else. I should have asked first.

  • When you consider sucessful mass transit there are many excellent examples. New York, Tokyo, London, and most major european capitals.
    I agree they are great systems.
    What about those under 250,000?

  • Okay, okay. I don’t know what bus rapid transit is. Why would I want to travel rapidly up 29 on a bus? If it stops to let people off, say at the old Field House, Barracks Road, North Wing, Best Buy, Kmart, etc., wouldn’t it cease being rapid? Would it let me off in the Kmart parking lot or somewhere along on 29N? How would I get my grocery bags from Whole Foods to the bus? I’ve only ridden the street buses in D.C. (over 40 years ago) so this is entirely foreign to me.

  • Now the business owners along 29N are claiming overpass intersections can’t be built because the construction would disrupt their crappy business entrances which should have been built on feeder roads in the first place. Even beyond the construction period, it appears the whole idea of an “expressway” bothers them because their chaos of driveways might get a whipsaw taken to it.

    http://www.dailyprogress.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=CDP/MGArticle/CDP_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1173354689821
    Group: Overpasses infeasible
    By Jeremy Borden / dailyprogress.com
    February 21, 2008

  • When you people can’t even agree on the definition of “mass transit” and “development,”…etc…etc…how do you think problems will ever be solved. You spend all of your time and energy nit-pickin….You can’t even decide on how Waldo’s bet should be interpreted..(sp?)…..For what it’s worth I never bet money……..now come on Waldo inquiring minds want to know where growth has been halted…..By the way Seattle is giving up on their rapid transit rail ….to expensive to maintain and I believe I read in the Seattle newspaper that they have had a couple of wrecks which have cost the city a bundle….The solution is simple for the Charlottesville/Albemarle area…built the Meadowcreek Parkway, build a limited access beltway/by-pass around Charlottesville and stop wasting time and money talking about mass transit and rapid rail…. If you are so really carried away with mass transit and rapid rail you certaintly have the option to move and relocate to one of these great areas….

  • Here’s one place that stopped growth.

    The same urge to remain pristine has led to one of the most extreme anti-growth policies in the nation. For more than 30 years, Bolinas has refused to authorize a single new water meter, needed for hooking up to the town water supply. There are now 580 meters – the same as in November 1971, when the moratorium began.

    Granted, it was a couple of years ago …

  • Do you see Charlottesville/Albemarle spending a lot of money on buses or rail? Who is this straw man of whom you speak? ;)

    I’ve lived in places about this size with much better mass transit, and with worse. The place with much better had tapped into university student fees, which is also the proposal here. UVa students get a free ride on CTS, in exchange for a lump sum paid by the U to CTS. But where I lived there was no separate UTS. That and severe growth control kept traffic manageable, but home prices were outrageous, even for California. You can’t do growth control in Va., unless state politics get way more liberal (see: Dillon Rule). Albemarle tries zoning into growth areas, but half the home building is in lots outside that zone.

    Present 29 could be a fast corridor for your post-Peak-Oil motoring pleasure. East Rio Road could have been also, without having to build that parkway on top of that creek in perpetually donated park land. You see, when all the good land has been built over, the only place left to build roads is along creeks and rivers, and through mountains. So the plan for the 29N bypass is to build it alongside our largest reservoir and its major tributary (you think it’s full of silt now!), and then to blast a canyon through the mountain between Barracks Rd. and Belfield school. The hard rock on that side of town almost bankrupted the excav company that dug the ramps at Fontaine in the 1960’s, but that’s another story…

    The 29 business owners have rejected many good & reasonable plans over the years, such as the one to turn all their businesses around backwards and build parallel roads on each side. Now they are trying to reject even overpass interchanges. And don’t get me started about Pepsi not allowing the Hillsdale extension through its parking lot. Charlottesville Tomorrow or whatever has to walk around on eggshells to get anything done.

    Your straw man is some liberal, anti-growth, pro-transit bogeyman. Well, it doesn’t live in Virginia. Get real, this place is run by real estate interests and the university.

  • RE. Stopping Development: Boulder, CO put in a host of anti-growth measures that seem to have worked by forcing prices out of commoners’ range. New building is limited and building heights regulated. Its population is 95,000 & demographically, it’s very similar to Charlottesville. Even has a brick downtown mall!

    As for interesting: I agree with Perlogick that mass transit has to appeal to convenience and become sort of a cultural norm before it is widely used. You need to be able to walk to a stop first of all–which voids participation by most county residents. Faster travel on 29 isn’t the problem so I see that as a complete waste of money.

    Why can’t there be a more dynamic system of vans that serve residents by demand, much as cabs do? With technology, it seems that drivers could simply drive as directed by a Central dispatcher. People could “order” service on the Internet or cell phone and pay as they travel thru zones. A backbone of regular service could continue inside the urban ring and to high-demand areas but it would be supplemented by the roving vans. Seems like that should be able to work, esp. in light of figures like $100 million.

  • Funny thing about the article from the Progress that Colfer posted:

    ““The biggest ‘Aha moment’ for me in this report is the Federal Highway Administration won’t allow the construction of the U.S. 29-Rio [Road] interchange,” he said. “I was like, you’ve got to be kidding me.””

    I guess the Feds haven’t forgotten that 29 is a part of the National Highway System as opposed to being a local road.

    Werdsworth compared Boulder to Cville; demographically Boulder is much more like Roanoke, with almost 100,000 more in MSA population than Cville. A better example would be Frederick/Frederick Cty, MD., where population is similar and growth is a major concern (DC in relatively close proximity). They are moving to put a moratorium on residential growth in the next week.
    http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display.htm?StoryID=71345

  • Here’s one place that stopped growth.

    That’s the place I had in mind, Jim — Bolinas, CA. I’m sure there are plenty others, but they’re the highest profile example.

    Jogger wrote:

    .The solution is simple for the Charlottesville/Albemarle area…built the Meadowcreek Parkway, build a limited access beltway/by-pass around Charlottesville

    Why don’t you tell us, Jogger, what the effect would be of a bypass bypass? Can you point us to any data, of all of the studies done by VDOT, that supports your theory of what the effect would be.

    If you are so really carried away with mass transit and rapid rail you certaintly have the option to move and relocate to one of these great areas….

    This is a really, really dumb thing to say. Should I start responding to your complaints about Charlottesville with the same “love it or leave it” argument? If you really dislike income taxes so much, why don’t you move to Russia? Really, what’s the point of this kind of rhetoric?

  • Waldo and Jim. Can’t we do better then Bolinas, CA? Sure they stopped growth but a little research turns up the following facts. Population was 1,246 in 2000 (can you find an example from a slightly larger city?). Average age in Bolinas is 10 years over the average in California (43.8 vs 33.3) and the median house/condo price in Bolinas has jumped to $784,500 which is way above the California median while the average income is only a fraction higher. A case study shows that while new houses aren’t getting built, old houses are getting bigger and new people are buying them.

    How about an example of a city that has significantly (if not entirely) slowed growth through measures that don’t (for all intensive purposes) ban new houses. There must be some. . . be interesting to know how it has worked out with regards to costs.

  • I’m not saying that Bolinas did a smart thing. There’s a really tough balancing act between limiting growth and maintaining affordable home prices. My point was simply that it is factually incorrect to say that development has never been stopped. (More obviously, there’s also the 16% of all land area of the U.S. that is utterly off limits to all development, by virtue of being one of the 7,448 federal, state, and local parks, reserves, refuges, protected areas, etc.)

  • I served on the Community Mobility Committee at the Charlottesville Metropolitan Planning Organization, from its inception in 1999, until March of 2004. We were assigned the task of finding ways to decrease SOV (Single Occupant Vehicle) trips. We held a rail conference in 1999, praised by local leaders, who then did nothing. We presented a light rail study, written largely by CMC member Jerry Deily. It is still available at TJPDC.org, but has been completely forgotten by our local officials. I did a lot of research on bus rapid transit (BRT) and pushed the concept at various public meetings on transportation. The cost per mile for our area was between $8 and $12 million per mile. This compares to $25 to $40 million per mile for light rail (LRT). No member of the City Council or Board of Supervisors would support BRT, despite it’s much lower price tag. I subsequently did some research into building a standard electric street railway system (traditional trolly). Thanks to modern prefab track&ballast segments, the cost is nearly identical to BRT. As electricity can be generated from a variety of domestic fuels, as well as solar energy, I have thrown my support to a trolly system. WE can even start by building the overhead infrastructure and run trolly-buses, which can be articulated BRT buses, fitted with pantographs (the overhead contraption that makes contact with the electric line). Portland is already running a new streetcar system. The problem with low rider-ship on our system (CTS) is it often is off schedule; with the exception of the 5 bus, nearly all routes go to the Downtown Mall; long headways (the time between buses); buses don’t run 24/7; burgeoning county growth areas are not served at all. A comprehensive mass transit system would include trollies; buses; sidewalks; bicycle lanes; and street oriented, rather than parking lot oriented businesses, stores, and entertainment venues. Another unused resource is our local heavy rail tracks. A modern self-propelled commuter car called a Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) can be bought cheaply and used from north to south on the Norfolk Southern line and east to west on the CSX/Buckingham Branch line.

    The biggest barrier to decent mass transit is the voters, who say they would ride a good transit system, but, then elect officials, who seem dedicated to paving over every square inch of our area, that doesn’t already have a housing development or big box store on it. We also are handicapped by the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1955, which forces localities to conduct studies to prove that a mass transit project can do a better job of moving people than a road.

    In case anyone is interested in why our original trolly system isn’t around anymore: our trollies, like those in many small towns, were run by the local power company (The Charlottesville & Albemarle Power Company or C&A, later absorbed by Virginia Electric and Power, now Dominion–You can see the C&A smoke stack on I-64 as you cross the Rivanna). During Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency, we saw the introduction in 1935 of the Rural Electrification Act (passed in 1936). The new law forced electrical to divest themselves of their street railway systems. In 1935, the C&A executives saw what was coming and sold the system to a company that scrapped the trollies and bought buses to replace them. The C&A ran from the east side of downtown Charlottesville, up West Main (old Uptown) and split at Jefferson Park Avenue, with one line going to Fry’s Spring and the other to a turnaround, just across the Beta Bridge on Rugby Road. Although trollies can reverse polarity and run in the opposite direction, without turning around, our system, according to my dad and other elderly locals, used loops. You can see pictures of the old cars in Holsinger’s Charlottesville. The tracks and oak sleepers still lie beneath West Main Street. The downtown tracks were removed in the mid 1970’s, when the Mall was built.

  • Steve have you ever wondered “why” the MPO recommendations and reports were ignored?
    I think most people know the MPO for what it really was…
    The automobile rules. People do not want mass transit to control their mobility, their daily lives…and it never will.

  • I remember a couple of the transit presentations at the MPO. The very technical information did not answer the question “If you build it, will they ride?” Who will ride the train through McIntire Park and why? Somebody else wanted a train to Crozet. Many people were asked if they thought mass transit is a good idea. Resoudning “Yes.” When asked if they would find it convenient to use, they responded with a whimpering “Occassionally.” That brought about the question of financing and sustainability. Meredith Richards, a Councilor at the time, went around showing a very expensive video of an electric car going up and down a reconfigured West Main. There was considerable interest among Council members until it was said that it would take $30M up front to put one in for a length of 3 miles. Too, no one knew where the money would come from to keep it running. Notice that the current trolley is “free.” Then, too, it was brought up that there would be considerable construction coming in the future of West Main, which could mean that the tracked electric car would have to shut down a lot since it couldn’t take an alternate root when necessary. The current bus trolley can be re-routed down a side street. Why do a lot of people say they want mass transit? It’s to get the OTHER guy off the road. Many people have to make several stops when they are out, stop by the cleaners, pick up salad fixings, and pick up the child in day care. In densely populated cities (I believe the MSA of Portland is over a million) this can be doable. When there’s not a dry clearners downtown or a grocery store within walking distance and your child is in daycare on Belleview Avenue, it simply is not convenient. Fast buses and electric cars may be swanky and glamorous, but they have limited use in the lifestyles of many in this locality.

  • People do not want mass transit to control their mobility, their daily lives…and it never will.

    As a Manhattan resident for the past four years, I am living proof this is not true. As are most of the other 8 million people here in the city. Might also want to check in with the several million people who commute in every morning from NJ, upstate, CT and Long Island on NJ Transit, MTA North and LIRR, respectively.

  • Will, why did you leave Manhattan? Tired of being limited as to where and when you could go, because of having to rely on mass transit. When will you be returning to Manhattan? Soon I hope. When people are not commuting to and from work they are using their AUTOMOBILES. So don’t try to tell me that mass transit is the raving success you profess it to be. Manhattan is full of cars 24/7. Will you be taking Amtrak, the bus, walking or bicycling back to Manhattan?

  • “As are most of the other 8 million people here in the city.” I’m sure things would be different here if our MSA was somewhere near 8 million.

  • Jogger, the degree to which you utterly misunderstand mass transit and, indeed, New York City, is really pretty stunning. It’s like you’re a space alien pretending to be a human, a la Mork and Mindy or, if you prefer Third Rock from the Sun. Have you ever taken any form of mass transit? The metro? The subway? Have you ever been to NYC or met anybody who lives there? Did you read any of the statistics on car ownership or mass transit in NYC that I’ve already provided here? Do you think that they’re inventions of an overactive imagination at the US DOT?

    You might as well be claiming that Charlottesville residents fly around on rocket packs or Mississippi is entirely peopled by people who float up and down the river on rafts of algae.

    Also, I can’t help but notice that you’re ignoring my question as to whether you can in any way back up your assertion, repeatedly shown to be wrong, that a bypass bypass would provide any improvement in the 20N traffic situation. I’ve provided data that show that it wouldn’t make a difference, but you’ve asserted that it’s wrong. Again I ask: Do you have any facts to back this up, or is it just a belief that you hold because you like to think it’s true?

  • Waldo, I understand mass transit perfectly. It’s just that it is not for this particular area. A by-pass would do nicely and improve the economic’s of communities both north and south of charlottesville…i.e. Lynchburg, Danville…and to a lesser degree Culpeper and Warrenton….You cannot show one community the size of Charlottesville who has the type of mass transit system that you and your like are proposing…(way to expensive to build, way to expensive to maintain)..The CTS system is costing the taxpayers of Charlottesville over $6M this coming fiscal year…just to haul the same 25 people over and over again to the same old destinations…Not cost efficient….. Money would be better spent building a by-pass and starting and completing the Meadwocreek Parkway. Just my .02…let the flaming begin…..

  • “A by-pass would do nicely and improve the economic’s of communities both north and south of charlottesville…i.e. Lynchburg, Danville…and to a lesser degree Culpeper and Warrenton….” Where is the evidence for this conclusion?

  • Jogger, you couldn’t have set yourself up more perfectly. Thank you.

    First off, you assume incorrectly I left Manhattan. Not sure where you got that idea, as I said it’s where I live. And I don’t own a car. Of the dozens of people I know here in New York, I can only think of two who own a car. I knew a third, but he just this week sold his because it was a hassle. If you actually read the link Waldo keeps directing you to, you’d discover that’s the norm, here. Most of us don’t have cars. We don’t want them and we don’t need them, so we don’t have them. It’s foolish.

    There are indeed lots of cars here as you observe, but you ignore that there are far, far more people here than cars, and much of the automobile traffic consists of people who don’t live here doing business. Your argument of, “Look, there’s lots of cars in New York, so everywone must have cars!” is like saying there are lots of boats in Venice, so everyone must have a boat. It’s ridiculous and false.

    And, to answer your question as to how I would travel between NYC and Charlottesville, I take the bus. Starlight Express, to be specific. I know you wanted me to say car, sorry to disappoint.

  • Will, I did not say everyone in NY city has or owns a car. My point being that if mass transit is so spectacular and working so well in NY city then why are cars and trucks even allowed into Manhattan? Secondly, Starlight Express sounds like a great form of mass transit, is that something left over from woodstock? If you are living in Charlottesville and don’t have a car you are really missing out on a lot this area has to offer. How do you survive in C’ville without a car (or do you really own one and don’t want to admit it)
    Cville, all you need to do is read the newspapers and periodicals occassionally and you will see many instances where businesses fail to locate to a particular area because of a lack of transportation…i.e…roads. If mass transportations is so good why hasn’t a city the size of Richmond, VA. plunged head long into mass transit? They have not taken the plunge and as far as I know there are no plans to do such.
    You loons need to do much better than you have to persuade people that mass transit is a viable option….Ain’t gonna work in your lifetime or mine….the AUTOMOBILE rules…get used to it….

  • Regardless of how well mass transit works in NYC, and I agree that it’s great up there, Cville is not NYC. It will never be NYC, at least not in any of our lifetimes. NYC has 8 million people in 303 square miles. Charlottesville and Albemarle combined have about 130,000 for 742 square miles. Granted, much of the population is densely concentrated around Charlottesville, but even so, you have a lot fewer people paying into a system that would have to cover more miles. And even once you get past the finances of it, you still have to consider the complete lifestyle change that most Cville/Albemarle residents would have to accept for the buses to ever be more than half-full.

  • My point being that if mass transit is so spectacular and working so well in NY city then why are cars and trucks even allowed into Manhattan?

    Ooooh, ooooh, I can play this game, too!

    If baseball is so spectacular and working so well in Boston then why is basketball and football even played in New England?

    If Democracy is so spectacular and working so well in the U.S. then why is authoritarianism and communism even allowed in the rest of the world?

    If humans are so spectacular and working so well then why are insects and monkeys even allowed to exist?

    Whee!

    If you are living in Charlottesville and don’t have a car you are really missing out on a lot this area has to offer. How do you survive in C’ville without a car (or do you really own one and don’t want to admit it)

    I lived in downtown Charlottesville from 1998-2003, without a car all the while. I took the bus, walked, bicycled, and rollerbladed everywhere. What, exactly, was I missing out on?

    If mass transportations is so good why hasn’t a city the size of Richmond, VA. plunged head long into mass transit? They have not taken the plunge and as far as I know there are no plans to do such.

    Richmond is, I gather, like New York for you — a far off and mysterious, never visited vehicular mecca. In fact, Richmond has the GRTC Transit System, their 120 year old mass transit network. You see their buses everywhere as you drive around downtown. The system includes an enormous bus system, vanpools, the VCU bus system and service to the surrounding municipalities (Chesterfield, Henrico, Petersburg and Fredericksburg). They say they’re “considered one of the most efficient transit systems in the United States.” They’ve got 249 buses and vans traveling 40 routes.

    Regarding plans, the Richmond Regional Mass Transit Study was created in 2005, and became funded just last year. It’s “a comprehensive planning effort to create a plan of action for the development of a regional mass transit system over the next 10-25 years.”

    You didn’t look real hard, did you?

  • Waldo, admit it you’ve just got a dog that won’t hunt, so get over it. Mass transit is not going to happen in Charlottesville or Albemarle in your life time or mine.

  • It seems as though the CTS system is similar to the GRTC system when comparing route vehicles per capita; of course, VCU and the other Richmond colleges have no equivalent to the UTS, so I think Cville should have, at least, an equal level of service.
    I also noticed that Richmond was considering light rail in the future, which makes a bit more sense than Cville’s transit plans. Cville pales in comparison to the Richmond area when one looks at the population figures.

  • “Mass transit is not going to happen in Charlottesville or Albemarle in your life time or mine.” Mr. Tubbs has convinced me that it’s here. Once we form the transit authority, the public will have even less of a say about mass transit. Do we have people capable of making responsible decisions? Obviously not. For example, the City is building a new multi-million dollar bus garage out Avon on its dime only to deed it over to the new authority later. The County gets it for free. if jogger had said, “Well-run, cost-effective, and efficient mass transit is not going to happen in Charlottesville or Albemarle in your life time or mine,” I wouldn’t give him any argument. I can’t say that those adjectives apply to the RWSA, RSWA, CRHA or the regional jail authority, either. It seems the public feels that the more money they spend, the better the job they must be doing.

  • Jogger, there’s been mass transit in Charlottesville for over 25 years. It’s called the Charlottesville Transit Service. Dunno about Albemarle, as I never lived there.

  • For over 25 years? “THE ERA OF THE STREETCAR – 1887 TO 1935

    On April 13, 1887, the Jeffersonian-Republican announced that the town of Charlottesville “will have its own street railway.” The first streetcars were pulled by horses or mules and many more people enjoyed this new means of access to downtown, to Fry’s Spring, or to the University. The Charlottesville and University Street Railway Company constructed the street railway with funding from private local capital. The new technology revolutionized Charlottesville by appreciating the value of outlying property, spurring on urbanization, and altering approaches to city growth by making development more controlled and deliberate.

    On January 12, 1895, the Charlottesville City & Suburban Railway Company operated the city’s first electric streetcar. Town denizens and University students responded enthusiastically to this symbol of modernity; more than 2,000 fares were collected in the first two days of regular operation. The editor of The Daily Progress remarked that his only complaint about the new cars was that the ride ended too soon. He proudly proclaimed,” from http://www.charlottesville.org/Index.aspx?page=672 . I’m only going by the City’s website, I wasn’t here then.

  • Steve A: you rule

    Has everyone read “The High Cost of Free Parking”? This book is the bomb! It explains the role of this mostly-ignored elephant in the middle of the transportation living room:
    http://www.raisethehammer.org/index.asp?id=072

  • Wow! This is really a townie site, cuz anyone associated with UVA knows damn well how much easier it is to get around walking, biking or on bus than driving/parking. And you ain’t gonna tell me that those buses have “5 people” on ’em. No way! They are packed from morning rush hour to evening rush hour. And on many nights they’re packed as well.

    Elux: I wish more people had responded to your Prius point. Right on point and hilarious. Actually, you could only buy about 5,000 Priuses, but that would solve transportation issues in a unique way! We could leave ’em chained to yellow racks with the keys inside for anybody to jaunt with.

    *When I saw “overpass”, I thought a walking overpass was being referred to. But a walking overpass bus stop is a good idea anyway if you’re going to have a bus-only lane running down the center of 29. No bus stops interrupting car traffic. I also like the idea of an HOV lane used by both buses and cars. But buses still always have to stop on the right side of the road.

    *By the way, the most brain-jarring fact from that “High Cost…” book was that the number one factor in studies of commuters for what made them drive to work was free parking at the office. When parking is free, the overwhelming majority choose to drive to work. When parking is not free, the overwhelming majority choose public transport to work.

    *Another factor that has been slightly grazed: school. Places with succesful public transit have often eliminated the yellow school bus and given city transit the responsibility of getting kids to school in the morning. As you can imagine, this solidly integrates your bus system into neighborhoods.

    *I’ve lived in cities where public transit was *faster* than a car. Cville doesn’t have enough density problems (thankfully) to make that so here. I think. But a portion of our transit system might be able to make that so if there were a dedicated lane (for bus, trolley or rail) that ran along 29 from commuter parking lots in Ruckersville (get Greene in on it!) all the way south through UVA to the Fontaine area then following 64 West all the way to a commuter lot in Crozet. With commuter lots along the way or vouchers/passes for day-long commuter parking in shopping centers along the way. Why not dream big!

  • Check out these minutes at the link below. It appears the Transit Authority is a given and so are the streetcars. Notice who are the players. The public probably won’t have much of a say about BRT, either. http://www.charlottesville.org/Index.aspx?page=1888

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