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CL- 2133 New Business   Item #:   B.    
City Council Regular Meeting
Meeting Date: 07/02/2019  
Subject:    Demonstration Grant for Regional Bus Service
From: Marc Adelman

COUNCIL ACTION
First Reading:     07/02/2019
Final Adoption:   07/16/2019
SUMMARY
This spring, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation recommended approval of a Fiscal Year 2020 state Demonstration grant to provide financing for operating expenses related to bus service that would be provided from Danville to Hurt, Virginia and from Danville to South Boston, Virginia.  Last fiscal year, federal and state capital funding was awarded to acquire three small buses that would be used to provide regional bus service by the Danville Transit System.  These vehicles have been delivered to the Danville Transit System.  In addition, a Tobacco Commission grant was awarded in 2018 to provide funding to support the local cost requirements for operating expenses over a three year period and to acquire buses needed to expand service.  Due to the approval of necessary operating and capital funding to support the regional bus service it can now be offered after state Demonstration grant funds are appropriated and necessary staff positions are filled to expand operations.
BACKGROUND
In 2016 the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center partnered with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation to conduct a transit feasibility study for an eleven county area in Virginia.  The study was completed in 2017 and the consultant firm recommended that regional transportation service should initially be provided for two corridors that maintain the greatest demand including the U.S. Route 29 corridor and the U.S. Route 58 corridor.  Additional study findings suggested that the Danville Transit System would be the optimal provider to offer service along these corridors to Hurt and South Boston, Virginia.

The primary objective to expand bus service is to provide convenient regional public transportation access that does not presently exist within the the City of Danville, and Pittsylvania and Halifax Counties.  The new service would improve employment, educational, shopping and medical opportunities for the region's residents by reducing transportation barriers for many citizens.  Planning efforts for the proposed Demonstration project have focused on developing service schedules that align with shift time needs for major employers.  In addition, planning efforts have involved developing coordinated service arrangements with the Altavista Community Transit System to offer transfer connections to an extended service area.

Federal and state transit capital funding was awarded last year to purchase three buses that would be used to offer regional bus service.  In addition, a Tobacco Commission grant was awarded to the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center to finance the local cost requirements for the three vehicles and for the anticipated local operating cost for a three year period.  This spring the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation recommended to approve Demonstration Grant funding that would finance up to 80% of the operating deficit for the first year of service.

The regional bus operation would involve an additional 24 hours of daily weekday service that would be provided by the Danville Transit System, which equates to a ten percent increase in total service hours.  Extra drivers and administrative staff must be hired to support the new operation that involves a very large service area requiring additional oversight and supervision.  The new service could begin once the transit system is fully staffed.
RECOMMENDATION
It is recommended that City Council adopt the accompanying Ordinance providing state Demonstration grant funds to support regional bus service to Halifax and Pittsylvania Counties and the required local share to be provided by the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center.

Attachments
Ordinance

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