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To Short Pump and back?

The owner of the popular To the Bottom and Back, Inc. (2BNB) bus service in Richmond is considering expanding his service into Short Pump.

Jim Porter told the Citizen that he's had preliminary discussions with a local business that may consider partial sponsorship of such service, which could operate only in that region or possibly shuttle riders to and from downtown Richmond.

Porter, 43, began the service in late summer 2009 as a way to serve mostly younger riders who wanted to travel to and from restaurants and bars in the Fan and Shockoe Bottom. A primary goal was to prevent drunk-driving among bar-goers.

He now runs routes there three evenings a week, Thursdays through Saturdays, and recently began a new Saturday daytime tourism route to serve the museum district. 2BNB buses shuttle as many as 5,000 people each week to and from destinations, Porter said.

Porter is interested in receiving feedback from residents of the Far West End and area businesses that might be interested in supporting a new venture there.

He envisions a circular route that might make stops at several Short Pump apartment complexes, take riders to the Short Pump Town Center, the Regal Short Pump 14 movie theaters and other local restaurants and shopping destinations, then return them home afterwards.

If residents expressed an interest in taking shuttles downtown and back, Porter says he'd be open to that possibility, too.

"If there's something they wanted [in Short Pump]," he said, "we could do it."

The operation's routes in Richmond, Porter says, have resulted in more cooperation between local businesses and financial benefits to many of them. Restaurants along his Cary Street and Main Street routes, he said, have seen a 200 percent jump in their receipts since the routes began.

The 2BNB bus service is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. And because it's free to riders, it isn't subject to any regulation by government entities beyond that required of other drivers. That has allowed him the freedom to operate through donations and the support of local businesses and the flexibility to serve a variety of customers and create new routes quickly.

In addition to his standard routes, Porter and his team have shuttled high school students from Richmond and Chesterfield to volunteer engagements; taken VCU students and their parents on tours of the city; taken UR and VCU students to and from fraternity and sorority socials; and even taken regular passengers to family functions. He carries $5 million insurance policies on his buses.

Porter's operation is not without its critics – primarily taxi drivers and others who charge a fee for their services. Those groups initially complained that Porter was stealing business from them, but he says that many now see value to the service he provides.

2BNB operates four school buses that Porter purchased from local school divisions for $2,500 to $3,000 each. Riders can check bus schedules at http://www.2bnb.org and also view real-time status locations of each bus, thanks to a tracking system that each one uses.

If his Short Pump plans take shape, he envisions purchasing airport-style shuttle buses that seat about 20 people each.

Porter's drivers are Chesterfield County school bus drivers, who have already passed necessary drug tests and obtained necessary licenses. Each bus also has a host, who helps riders find their destinations and helps manage riders so that the drivers aren't overwhelmed on busy trips.

Anyone with thoughts about the 2BNB buses serving Short Pump should contact Porter through the organization's website, http://www.2bnb.org.
Contact Tom Lappas at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Community

MADD walk raises more than $26,000

The Central Virginia chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) hosted its annual Walk Like MADD fundraiser April 12 at Dorey Park in Varina. More than 20 teams of walkers raised money from individual donors by participating in the walk, and in total the event generated more than $26,000 in donations for the organization. > Read more.

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Do the Bunny Hop over to Meadow Farm on Saturday for an introduction to all the farm animals there! An introduction to “Global Sounds” – featuring Japanese, Indonesian, West African, Indian, and Brazilian music and dance performances – can be found at the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond will also host the annual Spider spring game, as well as the inaugural Spiders Easter Egg Hunt. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

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