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Shelter Coming to Lambasted Bus Plaza 

click to enlarge Riders line up at the temporary bus transfer plaza downtown, which has come under fire for its long wait times and poor conditions.

Scott Elmquist

Riders line up at the temporary bus transfer plaza downtown, which has come under fire for its long wait times and poor conditions.

Amid harsh criticisms of the new bus transfer plaza downtown, GRTC administrators say they intend to install shelters for riders later this summer.

The absence of any facilities for passengers has left people waiting for buses exposed to the elements or huddled in nearby doorways to avoid heat and rain.

"There's no proper shelter, there's no appropriate seating, so this could not have been planned," said Valerie Coley, speaking at a Richmond City Council meeting last week. "What I see is us being placed at the back of the bus again."

The transfer plaza, along North Ninth and East Leigh streets next to Richmond's public safety and social services buildings, provides a central terminus for most of the city's bus routes. GRTC plans to use the plaza for the next two to three years until it can set up a permanent station.

Style architecture critic Edwin Slipek assailed the plaza's conditions in a review July 9, calling it an insult to the system's older and predominantly black riders and a Richmond disgrace. "We can't have pride in a city that delivers so little to those who have even less," he wrote.

Since then, several City Council members and the mayor have spoken about problems at the plaza, which serves 5,000 to 6,000 daily riders.

"We have to do something to fix it because it's a broken area and we can't let it stay broken," 9th District Councilwoman Michelle Mosby says. "Walking through there was an eye-opening experience."

Fifth District Councilman Parker Agelasto also voiced concerns at last week's council meeting.

Mayor Dwight Jones' press secretary, Tammy Hawley, says the mayor is "in complete agreement with City Council that this matter needs to be looked into." She says the mayor has been concerned by feedback, but also has been told that "many people have complimented the transfer station and how it is operating."

GRTC Chief Executive David Green says in an email that the agency has always planned to install bus shelters, which should be in place by the end of September.

"The GRTC acknowledges its customers' concerns and apologizes for any inconvenience they may cause," he wrote.

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