Study Kicks Off on Richmond Bus Route Overhaul 

click to enlarge The city wants feedback on how to overhaul its transit system, starting with a public meeting next week.

Scott Elmquist

The city wants feedback on how to overhaul its transit system, starting with a public meeting next week.

Richmond’s transit routes have remained mostly the same since the days of the trolley. But starting next week, the city will kick off a series of public meetings to help decide how to overhaul the system.

A roughly $600,000 state-funded study to survey the efficiency of bus lines in the GRTC system largely is dependent on public input, says Amy Inman, head administrator of multimodal transportation and planning for the city.

The first of several sessions to gauge how residents use bus lines is scheduled for Tuesday, April 19, from 6-8 p.m., at the South Side Community Services Center. Details on that meeting and others are available at richmondgov.com.

To conduct the study, the city has hired the local consulting firm Michael Baker International, which has subcontracted Jarrett Walker and Associates, based in Portland, Oregon.

Walker is a designer credited with redrawing Houston’s bus routes in that city’s push to boost ridership. There, he found that cutting duplications in routes resulted in more frequent bus service at no greater cost.

The organizer of the group RVA Rapid Transit, Ben Campbell, says that examining the routes is an opportunity to make bus service more efficient for everyday riders and those who may want to depend less on their cars.

He says the goal is also to provide better service within the financial limitations. “The opportunity to speed up service and make it more frequent is really before us here,” he says.

The study will take about a year, Inman says, and the extent to which the routes will be restructured will depend on feedback and observations.

But the immediate goal is to see how routes can connect to the planned bus rapid transit on Broad and Main streets. That project is designed to provide a dedicated lane for a faster and more efficient bus between Rocketts Landing and Willow Lawn.

Campbell says that greater connectivity to Fulton and other areas in the East End would make the rapid transit bus more widely accessible.

GRTC also is conducting a study to find stops along Broad Street that may be consolidated near rapid-transit stations and considering how to link the project to East End neighborhoods. Options include slightly tweaking the routes, or adding a circulator or shuttles to link existing routes with the project.

Inman says that construction on the rapid transit project could begin as early as this month, with plans to start service by October 2017.

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