Asked what they wanted from their transit systems, about 20 residents of James City County and nearby communities gave elected officials and transit employees straight answers at a town hall meeting on Tuesday.

Edith Heard wanted to see better coordination between the Williamsburg Area Transit Authority and Hampton Roads Transit. She was particularly concerned about people who work at night and cannot take buses because the Williamsburg system stops running at 9 p.m., and HRT ends service two hours later.

Busch Gardens Park President Carl Lum said he would like a stop closer to the park for the many tourists who use transit to get there.

"I'd be more than willing to have a bus stop in Busch Gardens," he said.

Lackey Free Clinic Director of Volunteers and Operations Kim Spencer just wants a bus route that reaches the clinic, noting that many low-income patients must walk more than 2 miles from the nearest stop to reach it.

"For us it is a big issue. We hear from our patients all the time. Please get a bus system," she said.

Their concerns were the reason Del. Monty Mason, R-James City, and county Supervisor John McGlennon organized the gathering, which drew officials from both WATA and HRT.

Mason said he has been pushing to raise the profile of public transit in the General Assembly, and attempted to get funding for a fixed corridor study on the Peninsula in the latest state budget, but was unsuccessful.

"Money's tight in Richmond, as everyone knows," he said. "So we started talking about what we can do in the community."

The goal is to find out what the community wants, what can be done quickly and without much cost, and then take those "quick wins … back to Richmond so we can say, 'Here's what we are doing with the resources we have. Now we need some help from you.' "

Both HRT officials and WATA Executive Director Kevin Danker and his team took notes of the discussion.

Brian Smith, HRT assistant to the president for organizational advancement, urged the gathering to take the agency's Connect Hampton Roads survey, which HRT will use to develop a strategic plan and long-term goals. Frequency of service and coordination of routes have been among the key transit topics that have come up in conversations about improving the systems.

Danker agreed. Officials from both agencies said they could improve connections between the their routes and buses. They also were willing to explore the idea of a shared pass for both systems.

And officials with both systems agreed that safety and shelter at bus stops, longer hours and more stops would help solve problems community members raised. Lum in particular said he would like to see later buses so his employees can take advantage of transit to commute home. Danker and Mason both said other employers also have asked for later buses.

"We got an email from a local business downtown who said, my business gets off late.

The employees can't get home," Mason said.

Heard noted that longer transit hours would help Grove residents. "We have the working poor here," she said.

Alternative and public transit advocate Stephanie Weber summed up the concerns: "Frequency is key. Routes are key. Connectivity is key."

The discussion pleased Mason. "We're just trying to promote and drive the discussion," he said.

Officials from both agencies said they would pursue ways to address the concerns raised, especially improving coordination between the agencies' bus connections at the Lee Hall transfer station in Newport News, where they connect.

Grimes can be reached by phone at 757-247-4758.