Coming Sunday: Better Transit for RVA

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Over a year ago I wrote about the exciting developments in transportation here in Richmond, and how you could get involved. The GRTC (Greater Richmond Transit Company) Pulse, the new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) bus line had just been approved and a lot was happening, including public meetings and other opportunities to get involved.

Fast forward a little over a year and great progress has been made. If you’ve been on Broad Street anytime in the last year, you know that progress has come with some growing pains and a few bumps and bruises as Broad Street has undergone significant transformation to accommodate the new dedicated bus lane for The Pulse. However, beginning last month the new Pulse line was opened to begin testing to prepare for full scale opening and operation, providing ample time to allow motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians to adjust to the new infrastructure and system. New lights have been installed to allow for the new dedicated bus lanes that the BRT will operate in from Rockett’s Landing to Willow Lawn, new bus stops and signs are up and this Sunday, June 24th, The Pulse will be up and running!

But GRTC and the City of Richmond have not stopped there. In an effort to truly transform the City’s transportation infrastructure and be more open to many different types of transportation, many of the City’s bus lines are being adjusted, with The Pulse serving as the central axis of the new system upon its opening. Other improvements include better bike infrastructure such as the conversion of Floyd Avenue, a new dedicated bike lane on Franklin Street from Belvidere Street to the State Capitol, and bike share sites scattered around Richmond from Scott’s Addition to Churchill. 

But with all of these new changes, how will it work and what actual improvements will come from these investments?

  • For those that were regular riders prior to The Pulse and adjustment of current lines, some things will change. Some route names will change, being named primarily after the major traffic artery they run along (eg. Midlothian Turnpike, Hull Street, North Avenue)
  • Bus stop signs will be updated on the day that The Pulse opens to reflect the route changes
  • All Pulse bus stations will have a ticketing kiosk at which passes can be purchased. These passes will work for both the Pulse and standard GRTC buses. Passes can also be purchased, and validated, using the GRTC mobile app.
  • The Pulse will provide faster, more frequent connections. Buses will arrive every 15, 30, or 60 minutes, depending on the route.
  • The Pulse and new routes will allow for easier connections. Weekday commuters will not have to use the downtown transfer plaza to connect to other routes (this is a huge improvement).
  • GRTC will have many resources available to help new riders or those trying to get used to the new system. Travel Buddies, extended customer service hours, Outreach Ambassadors and many online tools and the mobile app are all available to help Richmonders adjust to the new system.

This will not be a perfect transition! Changing the way people move around a city takes a lot more than just adding a new bus line or a couple bike share stations. It will take time for the system to work perfectly and it will take time for Richmonders to adjust to new, easy-to-use transportation options and improved infrastructure for biking and walking. But get out there and ride the bus, meet your neighbors and make new friends. If you live in a part of the city that is underserved by the bus system, then become an advocate for your community and neighborhood to receive better service.

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