Free rides: CTS usage up 11.5%
More frequent service, better on-time performance, and free rides for Wahoos. The head of Charlottesville Transit Service says these are three factors that led CTS to a ridership spike of 11.5 percent from this time last year and to log its one-millionth passenger of the fiscal year with five months to go.
"I feel encouraged," says CTS transit manager Bill Watterson. "We're demonstrating that we can make ourselves work better."
At our request, Watterson provided the Hook with route-by-route ridership figures that show that 69 percent of the rides occur on just two of CTS's 18 routes: the Free Trolley, which connects UVA and downtown, and the #7 bus, which links downtown to Fashion Square Mall, passing such hotspots as the Corner, Barracks Road, and K-Mart/Seminole Square.
"Those two routes," explains Watterson (no relation to the famous cartoonist), "provide service every 15 minutes, which is bigger than everywhere else we do."
The system has come under fire for allegedly sparse coverage and long intervals between buses, but Watterson notes expanded Sunday service, and he points out that Albemarle County funded extra buses for Route #5 this year, bringing that schedule to 30-minute intervals–- up from last year's hour-long gap between buses connecting Barracks Road Shopping Center and Wal-Mart.
CTS recently opened a new $6.5 million transit center, and some City and County leaders have expressed interest in creating a $100 million+ regional transit system as a successor to CTS to serve a larger geographic area. In the meantime, here's the list of routes, their total numbers of riders, and their destinations:
Free Trolley 326,264 UVA
Route 1A 11,049 Woolen Mills
Route 1B 10,507 PVCC
Route 2A 10,788 Old Martha Jeff
Route 2B 10,448 Fifth St. Extd.
Route 3A 25,629 Belmont
Route 3B 15,107 Greenleaf
Route 4A 29,679 Cherry Ave.
Route 4B 28,435 Fry's Spring
Route 5 71,959 Wal-Mart to Barracks Road
Route 6A 23,483 Ridge Street
Route 6B 16,554 K-Mart
Route 7 343,910 Fashion Square
Route 10 34,366 New Martha Jefferson
Route 21 4,665 Belmont (night)
Route 22 7,361 Prospect (night)
Route 23 1,286 PVCC (night)
Route 24 3,908 Pantops (night)
–All routes originate Downtown unless otherwise noted.