UTS to follow new routes

Starting August 11th, UTS buses will follow new routes.
PHOTO BY BEN SCHUMIN

Next week, University Transit Service, the bus service that provides free transportation daily to the UVA community, is drastically changing its routes for the first time in 20 years.

"Charlottesville has grown a lot, and its population has changed," says UTS Student Marketing Supervisor Miles Morrison. "There were distribution problems before, so we're doing this to better serve the community."

Director of University Parking and Transportation Rebecca White says that new routes were also needed to prevent dramatic delays.

"The principal route serving students was a long, 120-minute route," she says. "Any delays would ripple through 120 minutes."

The infamously long Blue/Orange lines did more than just cause traffic backups; they provided schedule confusion. A Frequently Asked Question on the UTS site reads, "I was riding the Blue Route, and then it changed into the Orange Route. I was lost and confused! What happened?"

In the new system, no routes turn in to other routes anymore. What once was both the Blue/Orange route has been separated into the "Northline" and the "U-Loop," both of which run every ten minutes while classes are in session.

New features requested at student forums last academic year include service all the way into Hereford College, the Central Grounds Shuttle now runs to Copeley Family Housing, there's service up the hill to New Dorms as well the newly constructed Kellogg, and there will be service in both directions outside of Lambeth Field Residences on Emmet.

The six new day-long routes will be replacing four day-long routes and three rush-hour only shuttles.

"We want to provide more complete transportation options for students, staff, and faculty," says White, noting that the new system runs buses along their routes all year, even in summer–- the only changing factor being frequency. The least frequent any bus line will ever run is every 30 minutes.

Morrison says that UTS's main goals include "safety, customer service, and"–- in a boon for confused riders–-"schedule consistency."

Morrison says one source of confusion eliminated is changing routes by time of day. Now all buses (with the exception of a few uber-early morning runs of the nurse-centric Stadium-Hospital Shuttle) will follow the same route all day long."A lot of the changes are making our routes more consistent so they're more dependable," says Morrison.

Also, he noted, UTS student-employees will now drive the late-night bus, continuing weekend service until 2:30am. According to Morrison, this job used to be outsourced to a company called A Goff.

When UTS was restructuring its routes last year, officials considered halting service to the U-Heights apartments on Ivy Road. But U-Heights stepped in to pay for the privilege of continuing to receive service.

"If I had known that they were going to pay to have a bus I might have actually lived there," says fourth-year UVA Architecture student Alison Davids. "I didn't want to drive anywhere–- there's nowhere to park, and gas is expensive."

New routes are not the only recent UTS face-lift. Last spring, UTS installed "bus-finders" at its more high-frequency stops. The finders, picking up signals from GPS systems inside the buses, let passengers know when the next is going to arrive.

Morrison, who compiled the zesty map shown above, has been in charge of alerting the community to the new changes with his ad campaign, "Don't Get Left in the Dark." So far, he has started a popular Facebook group on the topic, distributed information via HooView (the TVs in O-Hill and Newcomb dining halls), and put posters up in all buses. The big change happens August 11th.

1 comment

Improved, but does UTS serve Fontaine Research Park and One Morton Drive?- both locations full of UVA employees