Madison’s Only Public Transit Service Short on Funds

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Madison County's only public transportation service may be in jeopardy of closing.

The Foothills Express that carries people from Madison County and Culpeper to Charlottesville saw a drop in state funding this year, and local funds cannot cover the difference.

The service is run through JAUNT, and the local funding comes through the Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission. This year, the commission is being asked to donate four times what it did last year to the program, amounting to more than $11,000.

Now, a community organization is stepping in to do what it can to keep the buses running.

Shirley Workman, the supervisor at the Madison Senior Center, says many people there need the Foothills Express to get around.

"They can't drive as well as they used to and they do have appointments in town at UVA or Martha Jefferson, and the Foothills Express via the JAUNT bus, it really works well for them,” Workman said.

JAUNT's director, Donna Shaunesey, says the service is the only way for many to get the medical services they need.

"We really have seen 60 percent of the trips that are for bringing people to UVA for various specialties that just aren't available elsewhere,” Shaunesey said.

The service is funded in large part by state funds. This year, localities are being asked to quadruple their contributions, totaling more than $11,000, as the state cuts back on its spending. Localities say the money isn't there, so Workman says the Madison Senior Center is doing what it can to help.

"We're going to have a gospel hymn sing and Wood Grill is working with us and we're going to have food from Wood Grill and we're going to do a fundraiser. Our goal for that one day is $5,000," Workman said.

The state grant funding runs out on September 30, but Workman is confident the center can meet that deadline.

"Madison County is a great county to live in - lots of volunteers, lots of people and I'm sure if they realize there's a need that this need will be met,” she said.

Shaunesey says since 2011, the service has provided more than 1,000 trips for riders.

The fundraiser to keep the service running is planned to be held on September 21 at the Madison Senior Center. The event will feature gospel singing and free food provided by Wood Grill Buffet.

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