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A passenger boards a CAT bus on Route 2A.






Charlottesville Area Transit wants to provide you with the best possible experience riding CAT!

Some of the most commonly-asked questions about CAT may be found below. 

If your question is not addressed, please contact us at 434.970.3349 or CAT@charlottesville.org.

 

Jump to:
MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED
MAPS & SCHEDULES
FARES & PASSES
ACCESSIBILITY
FARE-FREE PROGRAMS
RIDING CAT/ONBOARD RULES
DELAYS & EMERGENCIES
WAYS TO FIND OUT ABOUT CAT SERVICE
EXPANSION TO CAT SERVICE AND AMENITIES

TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS IN CHARLOTTESVILLE

ABOUT CAT


Individual Questions:
What are CAT's hours?
How can I obtain a printed copy of CAT's bus schedules?
How do I read a schedule?
How can I save money riding CAT?
What happens if my pass is lost or damaged?
Can I get a refund for my unused bus pass?
How do I qualify for a CAT Reduced Fare card?
Are all CAT buses wheelchair accessible?
What if I have a disability and can't use CAT for all my trips?
Why do University of Virginia students, faculty, and staff get to ride CAT fare-free?
Why do Charlottesville High School (CHS) students get to ride CAT fare-free?
How do I transfer from one bus to another?
Why did the bus pass me by?
Can I bring my bike on the bus?
Can I bring my pet on a bus?
What about bringing strollers on buses?
Can I eat or drink while I ride on CAT?
Can I use my cell phone while I ride on CAT?
How do I retrieve a lost item?
Why wasn't my bus on time?
How can I find out if there's a delay affecting my trip?
If there is severe weather, how will I know if CAT buses are still running?
What if I have an emergency and can't wait for a bus to get back home?
How can I get route and schedule information when the Downtown Transit Station/CAT Customer Service desk is closed?
What is/how do I use Google Transit?
How do I find out about new CAT service?
Why doesn't CAT add service to Target, the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport, Crozet, etc.?
Why doesn't CAT offer more than hourly service on some routes?
Why doesn't CAT provide more benches and shelters at bus stops?
Does CAT charter buses and trolleys?
What other transportation options are available in Charlottesville?
How can I make a compliment or complaint about CAT?
How do I contact CAT?
What and who is Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT)?
How can I find out about career opportunities with CAT? 
 

 



MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED


What are CAT's hours?

CAT daytime service is available Monday through Saturday from 6:15 am until 6:45 pmNight bus service operates from 6:45 pm until 11:45 pm on selected routes. Sunday bus service is available on the FREE Trolley and Route 7 from 7:45 am to 5:42 pm.

The Downtown Transit Station at 615 East Water Street is open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, and Sundays from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.  CAT customer service representatives are available during these hours to assist the public with any questions regarding CAT.

 

How can I find out if there's a delay affecting my trip?

CAT's real-time information tools are a great way to check on the status of your bus.  You can:

  • Call the real-time arrivals phone number, 434.244.5180.  Enter the five-digit number posted at the CAT stop for which you would like information, and the next bus arrivals at the stop will be announced. 
  • Visit CAT's Real-Time Bus Information Site to see real-time arrivals displayed on a map by stop.  the real-time map requires Microsoft Silverlight, which may be downloaded at www.microsoft.com/silverlight.   
  • Use the Charlottesville Bus Stop Search page to look up bus arrivals at a particular location, using either the bus stop name or the five-digit stop number that is posted at each CAT stop).   This feature works in all major browsers including IE, Firefox, Safari and Opera.
  • At more than 40 CAT bus stops, bright red CAT Bus Finders show upcoming arrivals at that stop.  

    The Bus Finder touch screen shows the routes that service that stop. After placing your thumb over one of the route numbers on the screen, the bus finder indicates the time remaining until the bus on that route arrives at the stop.  Bus Finders operate on a scale of 2 to 28 minutes for next arrivals.  If the bus will not arrive within that time frame, or is more than 28 minutes away,  the Bus Finder will indicate "refer to timetable." A list of CAT Bus Finder Locations is available online.

Notices regarding planned detours and service changes due to local events or construction are posted inside CAT buses, at the Downtown Transit Station at 615 East Water Street, and at any affected stops.  Information about anticipated changes to service are also published on CAT's website, www.catchthecat.org, and Facebook page, www.facebook.com/CharlottesvilleAreaTransit.

Depending on the anticipated duration of the detour or delay, unforeseen service detours or delays may also be posted on the CAT website and Facebook page.

 

If there is severe weather, how will I know if CAT buses are still running?

In the event of severe weather, CAT will make every effort to post changes to service on its website (www.catchthecat.org) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/CharlottesvilleAreaTransit).  You can also call CAT Customer Service at 434.970.3649

Should cancellation of CAT service be necessary, that information will be communicated with other closings and delays on major media outlets such as NBC 29, CBS 19, 1070 WINA, and 107.5 WCHV.

 

How can I get route and schedule information when the Downtown Transit Station/CAT Customer Service desk is closed?

Customers may use the CAT Rider's Guide.  Maps and schedules for all CAT routes are available on the Routes & Schedules  section of CAT's website, www.catchthecat.org.  Current arrivals are available through the Real-Time Information page.

 


MAPS & SCHEDULES


How can I obtain a printed copy of CAT's bus schedules?

Maps and schedules for all CAT routes are available in the Rider's Guide, which is available on board all CAT buses, and at the Downtown Transit Station (615 East Water Street). Rider's Guides are also available at select locations around Charlottesville.

Printable maps and timetables for individual routes are also available online.  Visit the Routes & Schedules section of the website, and choose the route you would like to use.  Links to printable maps and schedules will be near the top of the page.

 

How do I read a schedule?

First, make sure you have selected the correct schedule for the route that you want to ride. 

Next, find the section of the schedule that meets your needs.

  • Look for either AM or PM travel times.
  • Some routes have additional buses that run on weekdays at peak times.  These bus arrivals are shown in red on the schedule, and operate Monday through Friday only. 
  • Route 7 and the FREE Trolley also operate on Sundays.  If you are traveling on a Sunday, make sure you are looking at the section of the schedule that pertains to Sundays.

Time points are listed across the top of the schedule.  Departure times are listed below the time point names. (Time points are labeled on the map for that route in capital letters.  A star icon indicates a stop is a time point, unless that stop has a Bus Finder, in which case the Bus Finder icon is used for that stop.)

Most CAT stops fall between time points.  Estimate your departure and arrival times based on the time points before and after your stop. 

Finally, make sure you are reading the schedule in the correct direction.  The bus travels from the stop listed at the left side of the table to the stops listed at the right. Your arrival time will be to the right of your departure time.

Hint:
It's always a good idea to arrive at your stop 5-10 minutes before the scheduled departure time.
Check the map and schedule again prior to your return trip.

 



FARES & PASSES
 

How can I save money riding CAT?

Public transit is by definition a more affordable choice than driving alone.  At only 75 cents per ride, traveling on CAT is already a low-cost alternative.  But CAT offers fare media options that than give you additional savings. 

CAT's Day Pass is designed with multiple bus trips in mind!  If you will be making more than two buses in a day, a Day Pass will save you money and time!  Day Passes are $1.50, and are available on board all CAT buses.  Just purchase a pass from the driver on the first bus you board.  Hold on to the pass, and show it to the driver on subsequent buses you board that day.  Passes are valid for the day printed on the front of the pass.

CAT's Monthly Pass provides unlimited travel for the entire calendar month printed on the pass.  At $20.00 a CAT Monthly Pass represents your best public transportation value!  Monthly Passes are available at the Downtown Transit Station (615 East Water Street), City Hall (605 East Main Street), Greyhound (310 West Main Street), University Transit Service (1101 Millmont Street), and PVCC (501 College Drive).

 

What happens if my pass is lost or damaged?

If your Day or Monthly Pass is lost, the date/month is not visible, or the pass is mutilated, you will have to purchase a new pass. 

 

Can I get a refund for my unused bus pass?

No, sales of all CAT Day and Monthly Passes are final.

 

How do I qualify for a CAT Reduced Fare card?

CAT offers reduced fares for senior citizens (age 65 & older) and persons with disabilities. Applications for CAT Reduced Fare Card are available at the Downtown Transit Station at 615 East Water Street.  Holders of Medicare cards automatically qualify for a CAT Reduced Fare Card.

With the card, passengers may ride for reduced fare of 35 cents per trip.   Reduced Fare Day Passes are 75 cents, and Reduced Fare Monthly Passes are $10.00. 

 


ACCESSIBILITY


Are all CAT buses wheelchair accessible?

Yes, all CAT vehicles are equipped with lifts, ramps, or kneeling devices to accommodate passengers using mobility devices.

 

What if I have a disability and can't use CAT for all my trips?

Any individual who is unable to board, ride, or disembark from any CAT vehicle which is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities may qualify for a CAT Paratransit Card.  With this card, customers are eligible to use CAT Paratransit Service, which is provided by JAUNT.

This qualification may result from physical or mental impairment, inability to ride and without the assistance of another individual (except the operator of a wheelchair lift or other boarding assistance device), or a specific impairment-related condition which prevents the passenger from traveling to a boarding location or from a disembarking location.

A disability might include:

  • not being able to get to and from bus stops
  • not being able to stand and wait for a bus
  • not being able to understand how to use the bus system  

Persons wishing to obtain a CAT Paratransit ID card need to apply.  The CAT Paratransit Application is available online or in person at the Downtown Transit Station at 615 East Water Street. 

Paratransit applications will be reviewed to determine eligibility to use paratransit service.   Sometimes, in order to determine eligibility, CAT may ask an applicant to provide additional information regarding a disability. CAT will provide notice of its eligibility determination and instructions on how to obtain a CAT Paratransit ID card. If CAT determines that an applicant is not eligible for paratransit, or is only eligible for some trips, CAT will also provide information on how to appeal the decision.

Some eligibility determinations are time-limited due to the temporary nature of a disability. CAT will provide those granted temporary eligibility with a special Temporary Paratransit Card that clearly indicates the card is valid on a temporary basis only. If a temporary card expires and the holder believes that their eligibility should be extended, then CAT will review their application.

While paratransit service is provided through JAUNT, anyone showing a valid CAT Paratransit ID Card to the bus driver when boarding may travel on CAT buses fare-free. 



FARE-FREE PROGRAMS


Why do University of Virginia students, faculty, and staff get to ride CAT fare-free? 

UVA student, faculty, and staff IDs are accepted as fare on all CAT buses as the result of a pre-paid arrangement between CAT and the University of Virginia.  Through this program, CAT reaches out to the University community, and encourages use of public transit beyond the area served by University Transit Service

Each year, new students and employees numbering in the thousands arrive in Charlottesville without orientation to local transit options.  Available parking in the two main destinations for this group, the University and Downtown areas, can be limited.  Through the fare-free program, CAT makes it easy for UVA students, faculty, and staff to try public transit.   In addition, the partnership promotes community mobility, and helps reduce vehicular traffic. 

 

Why do high school students get to ride CAT fare-free?

Currently, CAT offers a fare-FREE pilot program to all area high school students in grades nine through twelve.  With a current high school ID or CAT issued photo ID, students can ride any CAT bus fare-FREE.

The pilot program began mid December and will continue through June 30th, 2013.  Students who do not have a high school ID can obtain one by calling CAT's customer service at 434-970-3649 to set up an appointment. 

CAT recognizes that other area students who are not in high school may be interested in riding CAT fare-free. CAT offers a Summer Youth Ride Free program that is open to all residents of the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County aged 6 to 18. CAT makes photo IDs allowing youth unlimited free rides from the end of the previous school year in June through the beginning of the new school year in August. Please contact CAT Customer Service at 434.970.3649 for more information.

Through these programs, CAT will learn how best to expand fare-free service to other area students in the future. 

 


RIDING CAT/ONBOARD RULES
 

How do I transfer from one bus to another?

CAT does not offer printed transfer tickets.  However, CAT's Day Pass is designed with multiple bus trips in mind!  If you will be riding more than two buses in a day, a Day Pass will save you money and time!  Day Passes are $1.50, and are available on board all CAT buses.  Just purchase a pass from the driver on the first bus you board.  Hold on to the pass, and show it to the driver on subsequent buses you board that day. 

  

Why did the bus pass me by?

There are valid reasons why a bus could pass you by, such as the bus is out of service, or is being used to fill in for only a portion of a route due to service gaps caused by roadway congestion or a traffic accident. The bus is not required to stop at each bus stop if there are no customers waiting. Please be sure to make yourself visible to the driver at the bus stop, especially when the bus stop serves more than one bus route.  Also verify the time that your bus is scheduled to arrive.

 

Can I bring my bike on the bus?

All CAT buses are equipped with racks to carry two bikes at the front of the bus.  There is no additional charge to transport your bike while you ride CAT, but space is available on a first-come, first-served basis.  Bikes are not allowed inside buses, and only conventional, single-seat, two-wheeled, standard-sized bikes are allowed.  Learn more about how to you and your bike can ride CAT at our Bikes and Buses page.

 

Can I bring my pet on a bus? 

Service animals are welcome on CAT buses.  Other pets are only permitted when riding in a pet carrier.

 

What about bringing strollers on buses?

Strollers are permitted on CAT buses.  Once you have boarded, the stroller must be folded, removed from the center aisle, and secured.  Strollers that are not stowed in this fashion could move during travel or become an obstacle, posing a danger to you and other CAT customers.

 

Can I eat or drink while I ride on CAT?

Eating and drinking is not permitted on CAT buses.  Any food or drink brought on board CAT buses should be in unopened, sealed packaging.

 

Can I use my cell phone while I ride on CAT?

While not prohibited, be aware that you are in a closed space when riding on CAT.  Please keep all phone conversations to a minimum, and talk at an appropriate volume.  Note that speaking loudly and using foul language is never permitted.  

 

 How do I retrieve a lost item?

CAT staff checks buses for items left behind when that vehicle finishes service.  You can call CAT Customer Service at 434.970.3649 to see if we've collected your lost item.  Be ready to share a detailed description of the item you lost, and the bus (including route and approximate time) you were riding.

 



DELAYS & EMERGENCIES


Why wasn't my bus on time?

Scheduled service frequency is approximate, and may vary due to unusual traffic conditions or other significant disruptions along the route.

 

How can I find out if there's a delay affecting my trip?

CAT's real-time information tools are a great way to check on the status of your bus.  You can:

  • Call the real-time arrivals phone number, 434.244.5180.  Enter the five-digit number posted at the CAT stop for which you would like information, and the next bus arrivals at the stop will be announced. 
  • Visit CAT's Real-Time Bus Information Site to see real-time arrivals displayed on a map by stop.  the real-time map requires Microsoft Silverlight, which may be downloaded at www.microsoft.com/silverlight.   
  • Use the Charlottesville Bus Stop Search page to look up bus arrivals at a particular location, using either the bus stop name or the five-digit stop number that is posted at each CAT stop).   This feature works in all major browsers including IE, Firefox, Safari and Opera.
  • At more than 40 CAT bus stops, bright red CAT Bus Finders show upcoming arrivals at that stop.  

    The Bus Finder touch screen shows the routes that service that stop. After placing your thumb over one of the route numbers on the screen, the bus finder indicates the time remaining until the bus on that route arrives at the stop.  Bus Finders operate on a scale of 2 to 28 minutes for next arrivals.  If the bus will not arrive within that timeframe, or is more than 28 minutes away,  the Bus Finder will indicate "refer to timetable." A list of CAT Bus Finder Locations is available online.

Notices regarding planned detours and service changes due to local events or construction are posted inside CAT buses, at the Downtown Transit Station at 615 East Water Street, and at any affected stops.  Information about anticipated changes to service are also published on CAT's website, www.catchthecat.org, and Facebook page, www.facebook.com/CharlottesvilleAreaTransit.

Depending on the anticipated duration of the detour or delay, unforeseen service detours or delays may also be posted on the CAT website and Facebook page.

 

If there is severe weather, how will I know if CAT buses are still running?

In the event of severe weather, CAT will make every effort to post changes to service on its website (www.catchthecat.org) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/CharlottesvilleAreaTransit).  You can also call CAT Customer Service at 434.970.3649

Should cancellation of CAT service be necessary, that information will be communicated with other closings and delays on major media outlets such as NBC 29, CBS 19, 1070 WINA, and 107.5 WCHV.

 

What if I have an emergency and can't wait for a bus to get back home?

The Guaranteed Ride Home (GRH) program means you will never be stranded.  If you use alternative transportation to get to work at least twice a week, and you need to leave work early due to an emergency, GRH will pay for a taxi or rental car.  GRH is provided through RideShare.  Visit www.rideshareinfo.org for more information on the program and to fill out the online registration form.

 


WAYS TO FIND OUT ABOUT CAT SERVICE


How can I get route and schedule information when the Downtown Transit Station/CAT Customer Service desk is closed?

Customers may use the CAT Rider's Guide.  Maps and schedules for all CAT routes are available on the Routes & Schedules  section of CAT's website, www.catchthecat.org.  Current arrivals are available through the Real-Time Information page. 

 

What is/how do I use Google Transit?

All Charlottesville Area Transit route and schedule information is available in an online trip planning format through Google and their Google Transit trip planner.  Google Transit may be accessed from web browsers or mobile phones at www.google.com/transit, or the Google Transit page on CAT's website, www.catchthecat.org.

Users can plan their trip on CAT from point A to point B, complete with itinerary, schedule times, maps, step-by-step directions, and fares.   Enter your starting and end locations, the date and time you want to travel, and click “Get directions.”  Google Transit provides step-by-step directions on where to catch the bus, what route(s) you need to take, and if you need to change buses.  The tool also calculates walking distances and times at the beginning or conclusion of a trip as needed.

 


EXPANSION TO CAT SERVICE & AMENITIES


How do I find out about new CAT service?

CAT typically introduces new service or makes adjustments to current service once a year, in late August. 

Notices on any changes taking place are posted on all CAT buses, and on CAT's website (www.catchthecat.org) and Facebook page www.facebook.com/CharlottesvilleAreaTransit).  Large maps showing the route changes are placed at the Downtown Transit Station (615 East Water Street) several weeks before new service is put into effect.   If changes involve moving or discontinuing service at any CAT stops, notices are placed at those stops at least two weeks before the service change.

CAT Customer Service staff is available to assist with any questions about route changes at the Downtown Transit Station (615 East Water Street) or by phone at 434.970.3649.

 

Why doesn't CAT add service to Target, the Charlotteville Albemarle Airport, Crozet, etc?

The areas in Charlottesville and Albemarle County that CAT serves are based upon customer demand and budget constraints.  CAT's budget must fund the operation and maintenance of vehicles, as well as the salaries of personnel who drive CAT vehicles.  Routes that will serve parts of and/or operate exclusively in Albemarle County must receive budget support from the County in addition to the city. The economy and ridership are key factors that limit CAT's expansion plans. 

CAT evaluates service annually.  If public demand for particular service is supported by the City of Charlottesville and/or Albemarle County, and resources exist to fund that new service, CAT strives to make such expansions possible.

 

Why doesn't CAT offer more than hourly service on some routes?

The frequency of service on CAT routes, much like the service area (see above) is determined largely by  customer demand and budget constraints.  Routes to some neighborhoods that do not have high ridership receive hourly service.  Routes that are more heavily used receive more frequent service.  If the level of ridership or public demand suggest that a particular route should receive more frequent service, the change is supported by the City of Charlottesville and/or Albemarle County, and resources exist to fund that additional service, CAT will endeavor to add more service to a route.

 

Why doesn't CAT provide more benches and shelters at bus stops?

CAT provides passenger amenities (benches, shelters, waste receptacles) at bus stop locations that have demonstrated high ridership, or meet the criteria for amenities that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. 

It would be ideal to have a bench and/or shelter at all bus stop locations in our service area. Unfortunately, obstacles sometimes prevent this from happening.  CAT does not own right-of-ways along roadways, and the process to obtain approval for use of the area around a stop can be lengthy.  When installing a bench or shelter, a bus stop must have an adjacent sidewalk, crosswalk, and curb cut to the location. Many right-of-way locations do not provide sidewalks and connectivity alongside roadways, preventing CAT from installing amenities at these locations.  Finally, CAT purchases of new benches and shelters is limited by the amount of funds budgeted for these items.  Many times, grant resources are used for such investments.  

CAT encourages the public to suggest locations for new benches and shelters within our service area by email (CAT@charlottesville.org) or phone (434.970.3649).

 


TRANSPORATION OPTIONS IN CHARLOTTESVILLE


Does CAT charter buses and trolleys?

Unfortunately, CAT cannot provide charter service according to Federal Transit Administration (FTA) 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 604.

 

What other transportation options are available in Charlottesville?

In addition to CAT, there are several local organizations that can help you get around town, such as Commuter Information.com, JAUNTRideShare, and University Transit Service.  Charlottesville is also served by Amtrak and Greyhound, and the Charlottesville/Albemarle Airport

Click here for more local, regional, and state transportation links.

 



ABOUT CAT


How can I make a compliment or complaint about CAT?

CAT strives to offer exceptional customer service, and is always looking for ways to improve your experience using public transit.  We greatly appreciate all feedback received from passengers, visitors, and anyone who wants to let us know how we are doing.

Please contact CAT's Customer Service staff at 434.970.3649, or in person at the Downtown Transit Station (615 East Water Street) between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm, Monday through Saturday, and 9:00 am and 5:00 pm on Sunday.  You may also send an email to CAT@charlottesville.org.  If your comment pertains to something that happened while you were riding CAT, please provide the route number, vehicle number (if you know it), and time you boarded the bus. 

CAT will strive to respond to you within one business day from the time you submit your feedback.

 

How do I contact CAT?

You may reach CAT in a variety of ways:

  • email CAT@charlottesville.org
  • call 434.970.3649
  • send mail to Charlottesville Area Transit, 615 East Water Street, Charlottesville, VA 22902
  • visit us at the Downtown Transit Station at 615 East Water Street

 

What and who is Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT)?

CAT is a part of the Transit Division within the Department of Public Works of the City of Charlottesville.  For more about the City of Charlottesville and the services it offers to residents, businesses, and visitors, please visit www.charlottesville.org.

 

How can I find out about career opportunities with CAT?

All CAT job openings are posted on the City of Charlottesville's Jobs Board.  Descriptions of available jobs, and the procedure to apply, may be found there.  You may also visit the City's Human Resources department on the second floor of City Hall at 605 East Main Street.