The Harrisonburg Department of Public Transportation handles all the City School Buses and the City Transit buses. In addition to bus duty, they have the shop where all the City vehicles are maintained. They handle all the taxi permits (and drug testing). And their shop and parts supply is extremely impressive. They take pride in their maintenance and upkeep schedules which are fairly rigorous.
We were able to visit the shop which, at the time, had a transit bus, a police car, and public works vehicle in the bays. These vehicles get a lot of miles on them, but they are so well maintained that they can last a really long time. There’s even a car, or um, bus wash on the premises!
My main interest was in the transit system since it’s what I use. I’ve been riding the bus for almost 3 years now and I feel that I can call my bus drivers friends. I have one main driver that I see all the time. She looks out for me. She knows where I’m doing and lets me know when something changes that will effect me. I have another friend (she’s even a Facebook friend!) who is just one of the sweetest people you’ll meet. It’s great to know that you have people looking out for you. There are a few more that make my day when I’m riding the bus. And I am really appreciative of all of them!
Their budget specifically for transit is about $2.4 million. They take in about $308, 500 per year from fares. As you can see, that’s a huge difference. But then you add the $1.2 million that JMU subsidizes and it looks a little better. And of course they get money from the City as well.
A few other interesting stats…
Fiscal Year 2009 had 1,686,751 riders…averaging about 9,431 per day (remember, this counts JMU students). Approximately 88% of riders are from the JMU community.
HDPT began the Tuesday/Thursday Shuttle to Bridgewater due to horse and buggies not being allowed in the City anymore.
As I learn more and more about the City and what it provides, the more I realize how lucky we really are to have all these different services that are available to us. Some services we may not even be aware of! Do you know about Paratransit? If you call at least 24 hours ahead of time, they provide curb-to-curb service to those who are disabled and would find it difficult to get to a bus stop. However most, if not all, the buses are able to have wheelchairs board them by utilizing the ramp and kneeling capabilities on the bus. There is room for two wheelchairs when the seats are lifted out of the way, and there are tie-downs to secure the chair in place. It’s just another wonderful thing to take advantage of.
On a side note, there’s a cat that’s been around the shop for almost 20 years. She is a crazy scary looking cat with some hair missing. I wish I got a picture of her! Apparently, she has managed to get into some stuff that cats should really not be near, and she survived! She’s spent her entire life dodging city vehicles. And she’s even gotten in the building and scared people who were there working late. Crazy cat…her name is “City Kitty”.
Coming up, they hope to implement “Real-time” Transit where you can check your phone, home computer, or call a number and find out how many minutes away the bus is. We’re moving up!