Touring the Transit Center

Touring the Transit Center

What a remarkable day March 26 promised to be. A press release announcing the opening of the much-awaited bus transfer center popped into e-mail in-boxes across town like a bud blooming among thorns. The anticipation of years of planning, redesigning, overestimating and underestimating had finally given way to this fateful moment: The city was ready to open the Transit Center, which cost $9 million, including over $6 million in federal funds the city has held onto since the mid-‘90s.

Suddenly, Charlottesville held the mystique of a whole new metropolis. If the certifiably green building’s insides proved to be as intriguing as its multiangled exterior, what joys would the public transit rider find? The building would reputedly improve transportation city-wide as routes were tailored around the new hub. Plus, plans called for a café where one could purchase a cup of coffee or a pack of chewing gum while awaiting those diesel-powered chariots.

Hoping to revel in the recently “opened” Transit Center’s luster, the brand new seating area was a little dusty and construction noise echoed off the building’s just-installed concrete surfaces.

So, with a spring in our step and a fiver burning in our pocket, C-VILLE headed to the east end of the Mall to check it out.

Our slight disappointment at the lack of billowing balloons and trumpet fanfare only worsened when we noticed a lot of yellow tape, a few ladders and several men dressed like a certain member of the Village People, apparently hard at work. On the lower level, the Transit Center’s massive windows did a fine job of blocking out the blustery wind as Charlottesvillians and tourists of all stripes awaited their transportation. And a helpful row of updated bus schedules informed travelers of changes to the routes. But the brand new seating area was a little dusty and construction noise echoed off the building’s just-installed concrete surfaces.

No matter, we thought. Lead us to the café, for there is coffee to be bought! Here we encountered another dead end. The city has a bid for a café upstairs, and staff hope for a newsstand and vending area in an enclave on the lower level. But on March 26, that space was filled only with a few saws, screwdrivers and dust.

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