MEOC Transit and the University of Virginia’s College at Wise have teamed up to make trips across campus less exhausting with the new Cavalier Connection shuttle service.
According to UVa-Wise news and media relations director Kathy Still, the idea for an on-campus shuttle came together after Chancellor Donna Henry advocated placing UVa-Wise advertisements on more local transportation outlets. While the college has been successful in placing ads on mass transit and other venues in the northern Virginia area, Henry wanted more local transit to exhibit the college and interest potential students.
Still said that Mountain Empire Older Citizens, which has operated its own public transit bus service for most of two decades was more than willing to accommodate Henry’s needs and proposed the partnership. They provided UVa-Wise with a 15-passenger van bearing the Cavalier Connection emblem, and planning began for its launch including costs, routes, and timelines.
The Cavalier Connection began an inaugural three-day service run using one MEOC Transit bus, with free rides connecting points on campus with neighboring Walk2Campus and Cavalier Housing in Wise.
There will soon be another van arriving on campus that will display the “Cavalier Connection” logo alongside UVa-Wise’s insignia and a color-coordinated scheme that will replace the first bus.
College Strategic Communications Coordinator Mark Dixon worked with Still on the planning for Cavalier Connection. Dixon said the service arose from a combination of factors – mainly the student body’s longtime concerns about getting across a growing campus.
“The student body has requested two things, Chick-fil-A and some kind of on-campus transportation,” Dixon said of the two newest additions to services for students. He said the shuttle and restaurant provided a one-two response to meeting student needs.
Dixon said he felt there was need for the shuttle service after having attended the annual UVa-Wise Entrepreneurial Cup, in which two out of five participants showcased their beliefs that the college needed on-campus transportation.
Cavalier Connection is free to ride in through Jan. 12, and students, faculty and staff can buy fare cards at the UVa-Wise bookstore for a discount price of $10. At 50 cents per admittance onto the shuttle, that is twenty rides per card. Riders can also pay cash when boarding – 50 cents per ride or $1 roundtrip.
The shuttle operates Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. to transport students and staff who need a ride to their destinations for personal or medical needs, because of a heavy load of books or bad weather, Dixon said.
Riders can find folding-board signs marking the loading-unloading van-stops at all of the pickup locations.
Dixon encouraged students to take advantage of the free rides the rest of this week, if only to get a feel for how the shuttle help getting g around campus. Students, faculty and staff planning to use Cavalier Connection should test the shuttle and become familiar with the schedule to make effective and convenient use of the service.
Cavalier Connection will be expanding its routes in coming weeks. The shuttle will start taking students and staff to athletic events at the David J. Prior Convocation Center free of charge, although the Connection’s regular service goes to a fare system on Jan. 15.
Along with the on-campus shuttle, Still said there are plans for a two-van shuttle service to take students and staff to off-campus sites in Wise and Norton. While routes have not been finalized, students may have the ability to visit shopping centers and restaurants along a circular route as soon as the week of Jan. 15.
Still said that MEOC Transit can provide additional vans if the demand is there.
Planning has also begun to work with student life organizations and leaders to plan trips to the Tri-Cities and The Pinnacle shopping center in Bristol on the weekends.
Cavalier Connection is in its pilot stage, and routes and times are subject to change with demand. The service depends on student and staff support and demand.
“This is supply and demand,” Dixon said. “If the demand is there we can supply it.”
The weekday Cavalier Connection Schedule is:
Pick-up location Pick-up time Pull time
Cavalier Housing 7:05 am 7:10 am
Smiddy Hall parking lot 7:17 am 7:20 am
Walk2Campus 7:22 am 7:27 am
Upper Commuter Lot 7:33 am 7:38 am
Zehmer Lot 7:39 am 7:43 am
Greear Gym (front doors) 7:45 am 7:48am
Smiddy Hall parking lot 7:50 am 7:52am
McCraray Curve 7:54 am 7:57 am
Arts Center 7:58 am 8:00 am
Smiddy Hall parking lot 8:02 am 8:04 am
The stops repeat at the same time each hour until the last stop of the day at Smiddy Hall at 6:04 p.m.