Bus Rapid Transit. The Pulse. Corridor redevelopment.
For those that have been paying attention to current events in Richmond for the last year or so, these are words that have become very familiar to you, along with a whole slew of state and federal department acronyms: GRTC, BRT, DRPT, and so on. The dream for a more viable, interconnected, equitable mass transportation system has existed for a long time. For some, it stretches as far back as the middle of the 20th century, following the demise of the Richmond electric streetcar system (known as the Richmond Union Passenger Railway) in 1949.
Richmond’s current transportation system still operates on the backbone of this old system originally developed in the late 1800s. The city has changed tremendously since then, leaving us with an outdated, inefficient system that leaves many (literally) out in the cold. Many users of public transportation in Richmond face exhausting commutes that sometimes take four or five times longer to complete than if they owned their own vehicle. In Richmond, people of color, those in government subsidized housing, and immigrants are particularly affected by this struggle.
You might be wondering why you are reading about public transportation on a church blog! Well, as Ross Catrow, a City Church member and transit advocate with RVA Rapid Transit put it, “One of our jobs as Christians is to build a just and loving community in God's name. By withholding effective public transportation, we are creating divided communities. It's hard to love your neighbor if you can't get to his house.”
Richmonders have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to be involved in something that could potentially make a difference to every single person living in this city. Recently, after many years of study, community involvement and research, the Richmond City Council approved the implementation of The Pulse, a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that is currently under development along the Broad Street Corridor from Rockett’s Landing in the East End, to Willow Lawn in the near-West End. Richmond officials, concerned citizens, and other volunteers are now making a concerted effort to reimagine Richmond’s transportation infrastructure and network through the Richmond Transit Network Plan. This process could lead to increased efficiency; easier access to jobs, hospitals and other healthcare services, education, housing options, etc. for ALL Richmonders; and improved service reliability.
At City Church, we identify ourselves as “Broken people loved by God, continually restored by Christ…” Well, Richmond is broken too, and as a church, we follow God’s gentle leading as he seeks to restore us and this world that he created and loves, including Richmond, Virginia.
Now you might be thinking, "But how can I get involved?" Glad you asked!
- RIDE THE BUS! The first step in understanding you have a problem is acknowledging the problem! Try to take the bus to work, or to the grocery store, hospital or library. Experience for yourself the struggle that some of your neighbors face every day.
- Speak up! Presentations and feedback sessions are being held throughout the city from January 18th and 31st. Go to a session and provide feedback. Session dates, times, and locations can be found here.
- Take part in a transit-oriented bible study and discussion (there's one currently meeting monthly) to learn more about what scripture has to say about why transportation is such an important issue and an amazing opportunity to impact our city for the better.
Please contact Ross Catrow (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions, to learn more about the opportunities listed here, or to be added to the RVA Rapid Transit email list for regular updates.