Loudoun Transit will expand into Clarke County next week by operating an on-demand shuttle bus that will bring that county its first public transportation system.
Loudoun Transit, a not-for-profit organization that runs on-demand shuttles in Loudoun County and commuter service to Washington, began on-demand service in Warrenton and the town of Orange last fall. Its expansion there and into Clarke County is part of a larger effort to bring public transportation to rural areas of Virginia, operations manager Mark McGregor said.
In Clarke, the bus will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, picking up and dropping off residents who have called in advance to schedule a ride. On Mondays, the bus will run between the county and Winchester Medical Center to transport residents to doctors' appointments.
The shuttle service is scheduled to begin July 12 and will operate under the name Virginia Regional Transportation. The 12-seat bus will be accessible to disabled individuals. Fares will be $1 for adults and 50 cents for children 14 and younger--although fares will cover little of the operating costs.
A $42,000 demonstration grant from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation will finance most of the service. The rest will come from Clarke County's $2,000 contribution.
Starting a public transportation system is often impossible for rural communities, McGregor said, because they have no money to cover administrative and overhead costs. So the solution in this case was to bring in an established service.
Eventually, McGregor said, he hopes to establish a regional service to link the Dulles corridor with the western regions of the state.
To advertise the new service, Loudoun Transit will send out flyers in the next week or two.
So far, the response generally has been positive, McGregor said. But he has received several calls from residents concerned that huge buses will come into their communities.
"When people think of a transit system, they think of something huge, like the Metro," McGregor said. "We're nothing like that."
Appointments must be made one to seven days in advance by calling 540-955-9355.