Transportation in Lunenburg

Published 10:47 am Wednesday, August 22, 2018

In a previous Dispatch report about Lunenburg County’s economic landscape, absenteeism was cited as a major issue for Virginia Marble, the largest employer in the county.

Glenn Millican, county planner, said the high absenteeism rates can be a surprising factor of economic struggle, but he said the reasons for this requires digging deeper.

He cited transportation, and lack thereof, as one of the most common reasons that people have to miss work. “When you don’t have a job that pays a living wage, how do you get from where you live to work?” Millican said. “When you have children that you don’t have the money to pay for a sitter, or day care, what happens there?

When children are in school? That’s one thing. What happens when they get sick? What happens when they’re out for the summer? There are a number of issues that just come into play as to why people don’t show up.”

He also noted that for people with vehicles, sometimes the vehicles will break and their income prevents them from being able to repair the car. If people depend on rides from friends and family, and they are not able to come, often people will have little choice but to miss work.

Millican said transportation remains a serious issue both in rural counties and in larger, urban cities. Millican noted that for rural counties, they often lack ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

“There are not the ride-sharing services that urban areas have, although it would be nice if people who work in rural areas that they considered being a part of one of the ride-sharing services,” Millican said. “There used to be taxis in Victoria, in fact there were two of them where I grew up, but they are no more.”

Transportation often remains a struggle for residents in the area. Are there alternative means of transportation available?

A representative at the Lunenburg County Administrative Office said that the Blackstone Area Bus System (BABS) rides through the county on one of its routes.

Josh Worrell, director of transportation for the Town of Blackstone, which operates BABS, said the bus rides through Lunenburg County, the towns of Victoria and Kenbridge, as well as Nottoway, Dinwiddie and other surrounding counties.

He said the bus comes through Lunenburg on Mondays through Fridays, with routes beginning from 7-8:55 a.m., 9-10:15 and 10:15-11:20. He said there is a break between the morning and afternoon routes. Worrell said the routes then resume from 1 p.m. and end at 4:15.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, he said the bus drives Lunenburg residents to the Walmart in Blackstone for people who need to get groceries. On the other days of the week, he said the bus does not leave Lunenburg County.

Worrell, citing numbers from the Fiscal Year 2017, said BABS averaged approximately 250-300 riders a month from the Lunenburg area, coming to an approximate number of 3,492 for the year.

“We don’t count if there are connected trips or not,” Worrell said. “Whether the same person gets on twice, (we) just notate every time somebody gets on the bus.”

He said the bus system initially began in 2003 to service lower income and elderly residents who needed transportation to reach doctor’s appointments and do basic shopping. The system was originally only for the Town of Blackstone, but said since then, BABS absorbed local transportation systems in surrounding towns.

Worrell said while the bus is for everyone, he said the majority of riders who use the bus as a whole are elderly or disabled and are often low income. “Pretty much the mission and backbone behind the system was to provide service to those individuals,” Worrell said.

Worrell said they could not determine the percentage of riders from Lunenburg, or as a whole, who use the bus system to travel to and from work.

He said representatives are typically only allowed to record or identify the percentage of riders who use wheelchairs or are eligible for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) services.

Other organizations that provide transportation services, particularly for the elderly, include Piedmont Senior Resources (PSR).

To learn more about BABS and PSR, call BABS at (434) 292-3025 or PSR at (434) 767-5588.