Magic Bus: CTS fares disappear for UVA students, staff, and faculty

The City seems to have learned this lesson from offering a free trolley route ( began as the "HooBus"), which faced some opposition when it was proposed, but has since become the most traveled CTS City route, shuttling nearly 1,080 riders a day from the University to the Downtown Mall–to borrow from a local car dealership, "Everybody rides!"

Starting April 2, UVA students, staff, and faculty will be able to ride free on any CTS route with a UVA photo ID. The change comes after a year of negotiations between the Charlottesville Transit Service and the University of Virginia, during which a pilot program resulted in a sharp increase in CTS rider-ship. The program will run until June 2008, and as the CTS is quick to remind us, the fare-free program does not apply to the Football Shuttle service or to CTS LINK service.

So could this be a prelude to a City-wide free transit system for everyone? According to City spokesperson Ric Barrick, thats not out of the question.

"Yes, we're looking at the feasibility of becoming a fare free system," says Barrick, "but currently its just in the planning stages. We would need to make up for the $30,000 a month fare revenue that is generated, but City Council has expressed an interest in the possibility."

Given the fact that Charlottesville is awash in cash, giving up $360,000 a year to get people out of their cars, and to make getting around Charlottesville free, might not seem like much of a sacrifice to some.

3 comments

Free city transit is a great idea. There's no reason to penalize people supporting cleaner environments and less congestions on our roads.

A fare-free system would be awesome for a lot of different reasons. $30k a month doesn't seem THAT high (and seems pretty low for paid ridership, frankly). What if the City created a small parking tax - add 10-cents or 25-cents an hour to paid parking, for instance, and maybe tack on a buck or two for parking tickets? Might not even take that much - I'm sure somebody knows how many hours of paid parking there are in the garages and lot. That would probably fund free mass transit - and what better source of funding than from people who are clogging the streets, atmosphere, and parking assets? The tax would have to be for the specific purpose of supporting free mass transit, and the law would have to be written to make it next to impossible for Council to use any excess funds for anything else.

The buses are going to be driving around all day anyway - let's put more people in them and realize the environmental benefits of having a bus system.

Another idea I've heard but not lately is having satellite lots and express buses downtown. People dislike the bus because there are so many stops, and it takes too long. If people could park at, say, Pantops or some other lots on the outskirts of town and catch a bus heading directly to the new Pavilion Rest Room building - thereby saving money on parking (which is not cheap for commuters), they might actually take advantage of it.

The concept of mass transit is unbeatable, but in Charlottesville it doesn't seem to have been deployed very effectively.

Make the college punks pay for their rides....