An Accessible Guide to Public Transportation in Charlottesville
The city of Charlottesville, Virginia, boasts two UNESCO World Heritage sites, a thriving culinary scene and a world-renowned university, making it a popular domestic travel destination for many Americans. However, individuals with mobility-related disabilities face unique challenges when navigating this landscape. Deeply proud of its colonial past, the city often values historical preservation over accessibility. Hills and rough terrain abound, not to mention the numerous historical buildings exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. Despite these architectural barriers, Charlottesville possesses a comprehensive public transportation system that individuals with disabilities can utilize to better explore the city during their visit. There are two fixed route bus systems available: Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT) and University Transit Service (UTS). Fixed Route Bus Systems
UTS mainly serves students, employees, and visitors to the University of Virginia and University of Virginia Health System. Attractions such as the Rotunda and the Edgar Allan Poe Room can be reached using stops along UTS routes. Riding University buses is easy—they do not require payment or special identification cards. Service schedules, maps, and other information can be found on the UTS website.
Servicing the entire Charlottesville community, CAT routes provide access to many more locations. While these numerous routes may at first seem daunting, the CAT website has a detailed explanation of its services and an integrated Google Maps trip planner. CAT routes take passengers directly to locations such as the Historic Downtown Mall. With the exception of the Free Trolley, city buses do require payment to ride. However, individuals with disabilities are eligible for complementary rides with a Paratransit Identification Card. The application for these cards must be submitted at least three weeks prior to your trip and can be picked up in person from the Downtown Transit Station. While time-consuming to obtain, the ID card is the only way for visitors with disabilities to ride without cost. See CAT’s Paratransit Services website for details.
Should you experience any difficulties or have questions regarding these bus systems, the UTS main number is (434) 924-7711 and the CAT main number is 434-970-3649 (Option 3). CAT’s ADA coordinator can be reached directly at 434-970-3649 (Option 2). Origin-to-Destination Paratransit
Charlottesville also provides origin-to-destination service through JAUNT for those who are unable to use the fixed route systems. The service is offered at a reduced fare to individuals with disabilities—$1.50 per ride. Several weeks before your visit to Charlottesville, make sure to submit the ADA Paratransit Eligibility paperwork by mail to the address at the bottom of the form. After receiving confirmation of your acceptance and registering with the company, you can schedule pickups for Monday through Saturday from 6:00 AM to midnight, and Sundays from 7:30 AM to 10 PM. Slots are limited, so complete your reservations as soon as possible—up to two weeks in advance and as late as the day before the ride. JAUNT has more information and tips in its Rider’s Guide. Using this service, you should be able to access any attractions in Charlottesville you would like to visit.
Charlottesville holds many attractions for visitors, although they are often more difficult for those with mobility-related disabilities to access. While public transportation does not solve the entirety of the city’s mobility-related barriers, knowing how to utilize it may help simplify the daunting task of traveling in this challenging environment.