BoS Exploring Crozet/Charlottesville Commuter Train

Buckingham Branch Engine
A Buckingham Branch engine idles in the downtown yard.

The Board of Supervisors is exploring establishing a Charlottesville/Crozet commuter train, Sean Tubbs reports for Charlottesville Tomorrow. There’s already a line running from Charlottesville to Crozet, operated by the Buckingham Branch Railroad. The BoS figures it would only get 100-200 cars off the roads each day at first, and that it would cost about $5M to get the service started. The hard costs come from the train itself, establishing fencing the existing track through town, and building a side track to allow the commuter train to pass by a CSX train or Amtrak’s Cardinal train going the other way. They’ve contacted U.S. Sen. Mark Warner to ask about funding options, and they’re looking at getting a consultant to plan it out. With the federal government looking at spending a great deal of stimulus money on transportation infrastructure, now is probably the time to be looking into this.

At $25,000 per car off the road, the cost doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but given the powerful role that rail can play in establishing human settlement patterns, the service might be a strong incentive for concentrating development in the Crozet area. Two hundred cars now might be five hundred cars in five years. This is something that the university might be interested in helping to make happen, given their commitment to non-automobile transit among their employees.

14 thoughts on “BoS Exploring Crozet/Charlottesville Commuter Train”

  1. I’m really excited about this possibility. Does anyone have any idea how it would affect the cost and feasibility of the project if the service were extended to Waynesboro or Staunton? It seems like there are a great number of people who commute to Charlottesville from the Valley.

  2. Does anyone have any idea how it would affect the cost and feasibility of the project if the service were extended to Waynesboro or Staunton?

    I know I’d consider using the service if it extended that far and didn’t increase my commute time by a lot.

  3. Even if your commute time increased a little, it would be a much more pleasant commute.

  4. So lets say the new commuter train takes 15 to 20 minutes to get me from Crozet to Cville. Okay, now I’m stuck in Cville and I’ve got to wait how long for a CTS bus to come by? which will eventually take me (again how long) to wherever it is that I’m going?

    I don’t see this working out.

    …the service might be a strong incentive for concentrating development in the Crozet area.

    Concentrating development sounds like “High density.” So remember the pushback the Crozet community gave the BoS when the population cap was higher than was initially promised.

  5. It seems like there would be potential for people to be working or reading during transit, something one cannot easily do while driving. As for the buses, I would think they would be scheduled, at least in theory, to coordinate with the train’s schedule. Also if UVA, maybe the hospital in particular, and downtown each had stops that might make it so at least some people could walk to their place of employment rather than have to take a bus. What percentage of Charlottesville’s jobs are located downtown?

  6. Sorry, but people want easy and convenient. And the Western Parents need to be able to roll to the kids. Waiting for the train, and then having to get from there to the work and visa versa will just not work.

    In the big city, when I cold just walk out to the bus stop and know a bus would be there in 5-7 minutes at rush hour was one thing…this is another.

  7. Waldo, I think you hit the nail on the head. A lot of projections for infrastructure decisions are understandably based on current land use patterns, but what is often missed is that the infrastructure itself helps shape future land use patterns. 100-200 today could be 500 10 years down the road, and the adopted Crozet Master Plan may start to actually come into fruition.

  8. I believe the Crozet growth area is expected to eventually house 24,000 people.

  9. REPOST:
    The following offer was sent today to our representative, Mr. Slutzky, and to Ms. Mallek.

    Hello Mr. Slutzky & Ms. Mallek,

    I am copying you on an email exchange I have had with Charlottesville Tomorrow.

    We would like you to consider buses as opposed to rail for many reasons that I would love to share with you.

    We could commit to running (4) 55 passenger buses, 16 hours a day, 7 days a week between Charlottesville and Crozet for four years at a cost of $5,000,000.

    We could add 26 additional days for the cost of the $90,000 study.

    These would be new buses with wheel chair lifts, restrooms, entertainment systems & level 5 orthopedic seating.

    Buses have the advantage of lower financial cost, lower environmental impact and more flexible scheduling and routing.

    Please consider a public/private partnership with us on this and other transportation projects.

    Warmest Regards,

    Dan Goff, GM
    3890 Seminole Trail
    Charlottesville, VA 22911
    A Goff Transportation
    Phone 800-459-5645
    Fax 800-574-7271
    “Top 100 Limousine Companies in the US”
    “2nd Largest Fleet in Virginia” LCT Magazine 2008

    Here are two links for additional information:

    Government Grant Program:

    Environmental Comparison:

  10. This is a great idea. We will need to do it soon anyway, so we might as well start now.

  11. My “this is a great idea” comment was about the trains, though buses are also a better idea than more cars, more cars, and yet more cars. The best idea would be a combination of buses and trains, like London or other great European cities, where you can be almost anywhere and not need a car.

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