Williamsburg Transportation Center
The station building.
|Location||468 North Boundary Street
|Platforms||1 side platform|
|Passengers (FY2015)||61,625 annually 0.9% (Amtrak)|
Williamsburg Transportation Center is an intermodal transit station in Williamsburg, Virginia. Operated by Williamsburg Area Transit Authority, it is the central hub for local buses and also serves Amtrak's Northeast Regional train as well as Greyhound Lines and Hampton Roads Transit intercity buses.
The area has both a central intermodal transportation center and an extensive public transit bus system prepared to serve local users and visitors. The center is located in a restored building which was formerly a Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) passenger station near the Historic Area, the College of William & Mary, and the downtown area. It affords easy access to the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor's Center and virtually all types of passenger ground transportation services are located there.
Originally known as Middle Plantation, Williamsburg's site had been selected in 1632 for the very reason that it was on the center ridge, or spine, of the land between the adjacent James and York rivers. After the capital of Virginia had moved to Richmond in 1780 under the leadership of Governor Thomas Jefferson during the American Revolutionary War, Williamsburg had been reduced in prominence. It was not sited on a major water route and in the 18th and early 19th century, transportation in Virginia was largely by navigable rivers and in some cases, canals. Although new railroads seem to be springing up in many places after 1830, until long after the American Civil War (1861–1865), none had come to Williamsburg or the lower Peninsula.
In 1873, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) line led by Collis P. Huntington had connected Richmond with the Ohio River Valley at Huntington, West Virginia. This had long been a dream of Virginians. By this time, bituminous coal, abundant in southern West Virginia and western Virginia, was emerging as a major natural resource to fuel the growing Industrial Revolution. In 1881, the Peninsula Extension of the C&O brought the line east to the new city of Newport News in a rural area of adjacent Warwick County and the deep sea port of Hampton Roads where new coal piers were built. Completion of the Peninsula Extension was good news for the farmers and merchants of the Virginia Peninsula, and they generally welcomed the railroad. Williamsburg initially allowed tracks to be placed down the main street of town, Duke of Gloucester Street, and even directly through the ruins of the historic capitol building.
As regular service was established, the main line was soon relocated slightly north of what is now known as the Historic Area and the first of three passenger stations was established in Williamsburg. Other facilities were opened in the adjacent areas of James City and York counties at Diascund, Toano, Norge, Kelton (Lightfoot), Ewell, and Grove.
Williamsburg's original late 19th century station was replaced in 1907 with a newer brick structure in conjunction with celebration of Jamestown's 300th anniversary. Then, in 1935, that station, which was formerly behind site of the Governor's Palace, was replaced with a newer one at the present location with funding from John D. Rockefeller Jr. as part of the restoration of the colonial capital which became known worldwide as Colonial Williamsburg. The brick colonial style building has been restored inside and out.
During the heyday of the railroads, dozens of dignitaries arrived there, including Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower and Winston Churchill. By the late 1960s, the end of passenger rail in the United States seemed near. It now seemed that passenger rail's financial problems might bring down the railroad industry as a whole. Few in government wanted to be held responsible for the extinction of the passenger train, but another solution was necessary. In 1970, Congress passed and President Richard Nixon signed into law, the Rail Passenger Service Act. Proponents of the bill, led by the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP), sought government funding to assure the continuation of passenger trains. They conceived the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (NRPC), a hybrid public-private entity that would receive taxpayer funding and assume operation of intercity passenger trains. The NRPC started operating under the now familiar name of Amtrak. The remaining C&O passenger service to Williamsburg was replaced in 1971 by Amtrak services.
The passenger rail tracks on the Virginia Peninsula, owned by C&O successor CSX Transportation, and shared by Amtrak, remained a preferred conduit for many persons visiting Williamsburg, including dignitaries. In early 2008, the U.S. Democratic caucus traveled between Washington D.C. and their annual gathering at the Kingsmill Resort via Amtrak through the station.
Intercity rail and bus services
The Williamsburg Transportation Center is served by several Amtrak trains a day, with direct service to Newport News, Richmond, and points along the Northeast Corridor from Washington DC through New York City to Boston.
The center also offers several modes of local transportation. Williamsburg Area Transit Authority (WATA) uses the center as a transfer hub for its network of handicapped accessible transit bus routes serving the city, James City County, and most portions of York County adjacent to the Williamsburg area, with hourly service 7 days a week during daytime and evening hours. WATA routes planned for local needs and visitors serve most of the hotels and restaurants in the area, as well as Colonial Williamsburg's Visitor Center, Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA theme parks, the College of William & Mary and dozens of smaller attractions.
Taxicabs and rental cars are also based at the transportation center. U.S. Bicycle Route 76 and the Virginia Capital Trail to Jamestown and Richmond are both located nearby, and all of the WAT transit buses and many of Colonial Williamsburg's "gray buses" have been equipped with bike racks which will help facilitate access for cyclists.
- "Amtrak Fact Sheet, FY2015, Commonwealth of Virginia" (PDF). Amtrak Government Affairs. November 2015. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Virginia Capital Trail Foundation
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