Good news arrived last week when Danville City Council approved grant funding allowing buses to run routes from Pittsylvania and Halifax Counties to Danville for at least the next three years. There will be no cost to the city or counties.
The buses will stop at major job sites along highways 58 and 29 and education and medical centers.
Each one-way trip will cost $2.
Danville is asking for more bus drivers to accommodate their shortage. Once enough drivers are hired the program will start.
This project has been brewing for the past few months while everyone waited on whether or not the grant money would come through.
Danville Transportation Director Marc Adelman and Greg Sides, Assistant Administrator for Pittsylvania County, stopped by the Hurt Town Council meeting back in the winter to update Mayor Gary Poindexter and council members about the proposed bus routes that will offer regular transportation that will make it a little easier to go to doctor appointments, school, or even work.
During the meeting, Adelman explained that the City of Danville is making application for state demonstration grant funds to support a regional bus service. “This funding source is intended to finance up to 80% of the operating budget,” he said.
The estimated operating cost for the first year of the proposed regional bus service is $250,000, which is the demonstration grant budget. This would include additional staff, including a full time and part time position for office staff and four driver positions.
A Virginia Tobacco Commission grant (a local match requirement) secured by the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center for $317,490 will support the operation of two systems in Pittsylvania and Halifax counties. This grant is for a three-year period, to allow the localities time to adjust budgets to account for the cost once the grant ends. It also covers an adequate time period for officials to determine if enough people are using the bus to justify maintaining it once the grants run out.
The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation already awarded money in July 2018 for three buses that will be used for these services. The 14-passenger buses have been delivered with signage still to come. A deployed ramp will let passengers on and off. It is believed that this particular ramp will provide quick and easy access for the handicapped in particular. One bus will be assigned to each area with one being used as a “spare.” Drivers will be hired from the area. NOTE: a CDL is not required to drive this bus.
For more on this story, see this week's Altavista Journal.