New bus service connecting Valley, Charlottesville set to launch on Sept. 1
Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission Chair Frank Friedman cut the ribbon Monday to launch the eagerly-anticipated Afton Express commuter bus, which is scheduled to begin service on Sept. 1.
Friedman was joined by CSPDC commissioners and staff, local government representatives, and transportation partners. Rebecca White, director, of the UVA Department of Parking & Transportation, Waynesboro Mayor Bobby Henderson and Jen DeBruhl, chief of public transportation with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, shared remarks and excitement for the new service connecting Staunton, Fishersville and Waynesboro to destinations in Charlottesville and Fifth Street Station in Albemarle County.
Planning for this new route of the BRITE bus public transit system has taken place over the past several years and will provide a reliable and comfortable option for individuals who commute over Afton Mountain.
“This service has been a long time coming. The study conducted in 2019 showed more than 2,500 commuters from Staunton, Waynesboro, Fishersville and Stuarts Draft travel over Afton Mountain to Charlottesville during the morning’s peak travel time. This transit service will alleviate some of the congestion on I-64 while also providing our community with a stress-free commuting alternative,” Henderson said.
Buses will operate Monday through Friday, providing four morning trips that will pick up riders at the Staunton Mall, the BRITE Transit Facility (51 Ivy Ridge Lane in Fishersville) and at the Park and Ride lot at the Waynesboro Town Center. The six drop-off locations in Charlottesville include UVA’s Bavaro Hall, the Moore Health Sciences Library, the Downtown Transit Center, and Fifth Street Station (Wegmans), allowing for riders to easily connect to other transportation options such as Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT) and Amtrak to take them to their final destination.
There will be four time options in the evening for return trips.
Fare-free rides will be offered to passengers on the Afton Express during the entire month of September. Beginning Oct. 1st, the cost to ride will be $3 one way. Riders may also purchase a cost saving 10-ride farecard from the bus driver for $25.
The three buses which will be used to provide the service have arrived at the BRITE facility in Fishersville and are being painted, branded, and prepped for the start of service. The buses are equipped with comfortable high-backed seats with seatbelts, overhead storage, bike racks, WiFi, and USB charging stations. The buses are ADA-compliant and drivers are trained to use the lifts to assist in loading and unloading mobility devices.
The Afton Express local funding is being provided by the cities of Staunton, Waynesboro and Charlottesville, the counties of Augusta and Albemarle, and the University of Virginia. This local funding allows the use of grant funds from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. A stakeholder committee comprised of representatives from the local and state funding partners has guided the planning of the Afton Express service that will be operated by BRITE Transit.
For more information on the Afton Express, explore the website at AftonExpress.org or follow the Afton Express on social media.