Teresa Jones, who drives the GRTC bus No. 63, which runs a loop from Seventh and Marshall streets downtown to South Side near George Wythe High School in the 5th City Council District and back, says the election has plumped ridership.
“A normal day? I'm almost pretty much double. Normally I have a light flow of passengers. I've doubled my capacity on every trip, and so far I've done four trips,” she says. Typically, her six-hour shift includes six trips and she carries a total of 60 people. Halfway through her shift, she'd already carried 90 passengers.
“Everyone is excited, really excited, to the sky. Everyone is motivated to fight the rain,” she says. A Henrico resident, Jones said she voted this morning in Northside. Her mother, Virginia Jones, otherwise bedridden with lung cancer, also insisted on making it to the polls today.
“It's a special election. It means a whole lot to her, not that he's black -- the brother, he's qualified,” the younger Jones says.
At 5 p.m. at Wythe High School, June Winkler, the precinct chief, checks her tally and discovers more than 1,300 voters had cast ballots. “I love that number,” she says with a satisfied grin.
Back on the bus, Dedrick Davis, 23, has just finished casting her first ballot and is heading home to Somerset Glen apartments. She registered for the first time in August at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
“We need a change, we really do,” she says.
Outside Wythe on the sidewalk, 5th District Councilman Marty Jewell shakes hands and tries to close the sale.
“Hi, I'm Marty Jewell, I'm your councilman and I want your vote,” he says to voters standing line. Jewell, who left Swansboro Elementary School at 5 p.m. says that 1,348 votes had been cast by the time he departed. A call from one his workers from Randolph Community Center on Grayland Avenue, one of the city's largest precincts, reported 2,234 votes already cast.
Jewell predicts a landslide for Obama.