ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) – For years, Roanoke city leaders have wanted to expand public transportation services.
“We have always been unable to take these steps because of the funding required to do so,” City Manager Bob Cowell said at Monday’s city council meeting.
Cowell said the city receives a set amount for transit in each budget. But they may have found a way to potentially expand services with the one-time money from the American Rescue Plan Act. They found $3 million of ARPA funds that would go toward a mobility initiative.
“It’s one of the easiest things for me to quantify what it would take to do that because it’s one of those rare cases where it’s purely money,” Cowell said. during a meeting.
The initiative will focus on a pilot program that would extend transportation hours to 12:45 a.m. Monday through Saturday and offer service from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Cowell wanted to make it clear that this would not keep more buses on the roads, but would potentially be a contracted van-type service.
A second part of the initiative would also include improvements to bus stops, such as shelters that would come in handy in case of bad weather.
“Which includes a range from setting up more airstrips. We may not be able to have full shelter, but at least in more cases people aren’t just getting off the bus in the mud.
Councilor Joe Cobb, who is with the Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization, believes it’s a win-win situation for all residents.
“For people who work later, whether it’s in industry, restaurants or businesses that stay open later, it provides an amazing service that I think we’re going to see the benefits of,” Cobb said.
City Manager Bob Cowell hopes they can make this a pilot program in the near future, but also hopes to see a positive response that can lead to more funding and eventually become permanent.
There is no current date when Roanoke might see these changes and councils will have to go through the Greater Richmond Transit Company before moving forward.
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