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Bus service to Danville funded / January 11, 2018
A new bus service between Halifax County, Danville and Pittsylvania County will soon roll after receiving a $317,490 startup grant from the Tobacco Regional Revitalization Committee this week.

Members of the tobacco commission approved the grant request, which was sought jointly by the three localities to serve students and residents traveling back and forth from Danville Community College, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center and other points of local need. Two routes are envisioned: from South Boston to Danville, and from Danville to Gretna, with stops in Chatham.

The three-year demonstration project will be operated by the Danville Transit Authority.

“Lack of reliable and affordable transportation in the region is a barrier to both employment and education,” noted the grant application for the tobacco funding. “Nearly 3,000 individuals travel out of their locality (city to county, county to city, or county-county) for work and at least 150 Danville Community College students are making similar commutes across locality lines.

“Because a relatively high percentage of the service area’s population live in auto-less households, many individuals lack reliable transportation for work and education. Limited regional transportation options are an impediment to individuals as they pursue employment and education and to regional economic development as industry prospects evaluate workforce and infrastructure assets,” according to the grant partners.

The bus system is projected to handle 14,500 passenger trips annually, and would be open to the general public. Based on estimates from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the Southern Virginia Regional Transportation Demonstration project could create 51 new jobs and return $4 for every $1 invested, according to the grant application.

While the tobacco commission agreed to fund the regional bus system, it held off taking action on another funding request by Halifax County, for money to expand broadband internet into the rural countryside. The tobacco commission is expected to meet again in late February to review grant requests by Halifax County, Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative — which is seeking to install a fiber optic network in the region — and other applicants.

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