The number 1 bus's ridership constitutes 1% of the city's total bus ridership, a very neat symmetry. I felt silly, riding a bus just for the sake of riding it--I almost felt like I was doing something illegal. I'm sorry to report that nothing very amusing happened on the ride. No one was crazy, no one harassed me for three dollars. Starting from the downtown transit center, we trundled through Belmont and then went up to Piedmont Community College. I've always liked the view of a city from a bus. You're elevated, you're not responsible for driving, you can see more. There's always something interesting to see in Belmont, my own neighborhood, where few people have driveways or garages, so much of life is out on the front porch. The houses run the gamut from shacks to places that could be featured in Architectural Digest. There are interesting bits of garden, and much creative use of space because lots are small and the area is hilly.
It's a good thing there's a bus that goes to PVCC because it's totally inaccessible to pedestrians. Who thought it was a good idea to put a community college at the summit of a huge hill, outside of town, and with only one road leading up to it? Not very convenient to people who are trying to better their lives and don't have cars. Of course, most students do have cars, and I drove myself when I was a student there, but a few times I had to take the bus, and Ian did every day. It's unfortunate that the bus runs only once an hour, leaving students stranded whose classes end two minutes after the bus leaves, which seemed to always be the case with Ian. Twice he tried to walk home from PVCC, once by going off road and hiking down the far side of the hill, striking out for Avon St. and the other, taking the road and nearly getting killed crossing the on and off ramps to the interstate.
Anyway, it was fun to revisit PVCC, drive past the new science building, and be fervently glad that I am no longer a nursing student. We dropped off and picked up a few students--proof that the number 1 bus is important to the community--and then began the long descent down the hill and back up route 20 into town.
Back at the transit center, I was afraid I'd be questioned for not getting off the bus but no one said anything and soon we began the other segment of the number one's route, into Woolen Mills. Woolen Mills is my second favorite neighborhood in Charlottesville, after Belmont. It's separated from Belmont by only the CSX tracks, but the geography is different. Where Belmont is steep hills and grand views, Woolen Mills is low and oriented to the Rivanna River. It has a similar mix of houses--a few are really spectacular. When we were shopping for a house, we looked at plenty in Woolen Mills, but the houses in our price range were of the shack variety. Our bus negotiated the impossibly sharp curve (for a bus) at the Woolen Mills chapel, and headed down Chesapeake Ave, with an agreeable view to Market St.
The number 1 ends with a little trip through the streets south of Martha Jefferson Hospital, with one last stop at the hospital itself. It's typical of Charlottesville's inefficient public transportation system to have the last stop be Martha Jefferson, which is only a couple of blocks from the transit center. If you really wanted to take a bus to MJH, from some distant neighborhood, you'd have to take a bus downtown, wait for the number 1, and then stay on it while you wandered all through Woolen Mills before finally getting to your destination. It would be quicker to walk there from the transit center.
Back at the transit center, I exited the bus and began my walk home. I had walked a fair way down Avon St. and was passed by the number 1 bus, headed back into Belmont. DOH! I could have stayed on it and been dropped off a couple of blocks from my house.
This concludes my review of the number 1 bus. Only ten more bus routes with which to bore you!