Danville isn’t the first place that springs to mind when it comes to public transportation, but the Bluegrass Ultra-Transit Service reported bussing hundreds of people during last Thursday’s vice-presidential debate and festival at Centre College.
The service, which has regular routes in town through the Blue Grass Community Action Partnership, ran a free shuttle to and from campus. People could board the buses at First Christian Church on Lexington Road and First Baptist Church on the bypass.
Taylor Veatch, a manager with BGCAP, said as many as 1,500 people used the shuttle.
He said there were two drivers going back and forth from the campus constantly, but additional drivers had to be called in because of the large numbers, especially at the lot on the bypass.
“It went better than we expected,” Veatch said. “We had no idea how it would go, but it was steady all day. We had a lot of people go (to the festival), leave and then come back again. Overall, we think it was a success.”
Danville Fire Chief Woody Ball said there were some public safety concerns about traffic downtown becoming backed up. Many of the streets surrounding campus were closed to traffic.
“It seemed like it really kept things from getting congested with a lot of people stopping and not knowing where to go,” Ball said. “It was a big help.”
The festival started about noon and included a number of performances, a live viewing of the vice-presidential debate and a performance by the Marshall Tucker Band.
Veatch said he was concerned there might be problems if everyone tried to leave at once after the show, but eight buses were ready to take people back to the off-site lots and they were sufficient.
It was the second large-scale attempt at providing free service during a major event.
The BUS fleet also ran during the Great American Brass Band Festival this year, but Veatch said fewer people seemed to be aware it was available.
Veatch is optimistic about more participation for festivals and other events in the future now that there is an example of how it can work.
“We do hope to keep doing things like this in the future,” Veatch said.