Greater Lynchburg Transit Co. studies connectivity needs along Florida Ave.

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7)-- A bus route in Lynchburg could be expanded to increase connectivity to downtown.

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The Greater Lynchburg Transit Company has spent the last several months surveying people who ride the bus near Florida Ave. to determine if a route expanding to downtown would benefit riders.

The survey came at the request of Lynchburg City Council members. Last spring, council agreed to fund a $9.9 million sidewalk project along Florida Ave. in the city's capital improvement plan budget. The project is slated to be complete by 2025 and is meant to address pedestrian safety concerns.

In the meantime, council asked the GLTC team to explain why there is not a direct bus route from Greenfield Drive on Florida Ave. to Grace St. in Downtown Lynchburg. GLTC was also asked to determine if there is a need for expanded service.

"We are dedicating the money for the sidewalk, but what are we going to do to mitigate the problem now? That is where this came from," explained Brian Booth, General Manager of GLTC.

According to Booth, his team surveyed about 120 people and about 75 percent of people said that expanded service along Florida Ave., with a direct route to downtown, would benefit them.

Tomika Charlton takes the bus every Tuesday from Greenfield Drive to downtown to go to the social services building. Charlton said she is a single mother and is seeking employment, but she has no car.

Even though she is less than a ten-minute drive from downtown, the bus route takes her around Campbell Ave. and back to the transfer station for another bus. Charlton said her commute is usually about 40 minutes.

"It is such a process with the buses," said Charlton. "That's too much doing."

GLTC evaluated the current routes and identified a potential alternate route. According to Booth, GLTC could expand route two to be bi-directional from Greenview Drive using Florida avenue, Grace St., 12th St., Main St. and 5th St. to return to the transfer station.

"Since they are already relying on what is available, giving them another option would just make it a better experience for them," said Booth.

He does not expect the new/expanded route to increase ridership; rather the purpose would be to provide a shorter and more direct experience for an already transit-dependent population.

Booth said there was a previous rumor that buses could not go down Florida Ave. to Grace St. because of a train trestle; however he determined the rumor was not true.

The additional service along Florida Ave. would require more funding. GLTC will present its survey findings to city council at an upcoming meeting. The ultimate decision to expand service is in the hands of city council.

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