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Charlottesville expands bus system

Charlottesville Transportation Service expanded its bus services Monday, adding routes and increasing nighttime hours, which may help students escape from Grounds. The biggest change lengthens bus service hours on Route 7 until 11:30 p.m. Formerly, the route closed at 6:45 p.m.

Route 7 runs from downtown up University Drive and past the Rotunda. It then turns onto Emmett Street and goes out Route 29 to Fashion Square Mall. The changes also include adding a new route that runs to Pantops Shopping Center.

Charlottesville Transit Director Helen Poor said she hopes the new night hours will give students better access to Charlottesville.

"Students could catch [Route 7] at the Rotunda or Madison" Hall, Poor said. "It will help them get out into the community."

In addition to helping students, CTS officials said they hope the changes will allow employees who work at night to take public transportation home after work.

The expanded services "will be the biggest help to the people working at night," Charlottesville Mayor Virginia Daugherty said.

The expanded times for buses also will help residents and students save some money.

"This is the first time that people who work at night are able to take a bus home at night," Poor said. "We've had people say they used to pay $7 for a taxi ride home from work at night and now they can ride the bus."

One rider on the 7 p.m. bus last night said she will use the new bus hours to shop and run errands that she couldn't do during the day because she works.

"It's nice," she said of the expanded bus schedule. "I mostly ride in the morning. This is my first time at night."

In addition to helping people shop and get to work, some area residents said they hope the expanded bus schedule will also decrease traffic congestion.

Charlottesville resident Kevin Cox said he hopes the revamped bus system will help students and decrease traffic.

"Students have been calling to get information and using the bus lines to go shopping [and] I'm interested in getting more people out of their cars," Cox said.

Poor agreed and said the new system will offer students and city residents a choice between driving and using public transportation.

"We're trying to put in a bus system that gives people a choice between riding a bus and driving," she said.

Many students and residents will save a substantial amount of money if they ride the bus instead of driving their own cars, she added.

"It costs $250 per year to ride the bus versus $3,000 a year to own and drive a car," Poor said. "People are incredibly excited"

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