If you need additional help, call GRTC’s Customer Service Center at (804) 358-GRTC.
I don’t ride the bus. Why should I care about The Great Richmond Reroute?
There are lots of reasons why people who don’t ride the bus need to care about The Great Richmond Reroute. Bus travel routes are changing. That means bus stops, cross walks, and travel patterns are changing. Even if you don’t ride the bus, you still walk, drive and bike through the city, and there likely will be changes to your usual routes because of the new bus system. There will be new rules of the road, and everyone needs to be aware.
The Great Richmond Reroute also offers new transportation choices. If you’ve ever had trouble parking in the city, or if you’ve ever found yourself frustrated in traffic – and who hasn’t? – you’re a prime candidate to give the Pulse and the redesigned bus routes a try. Free Rides Week (June 24-30) gives non-riders a no-cost way to try transit and see how it can work for them. Even if you decide not to use transit regularly, you can still reap some of the benefits by using the system occasionally.
The entire bus network has been redesigned. Why?
Richmond received a TIGER grant – that’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant – to create the new Pulse bus rapid transit line. The Pulse line, in and of itself, would have been a big improvement for Richmond. But Richmond city leaders saw the TIGER grant as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reimagine Richmond and its transit system. So, the city decided, in concert with the Pulse, to restructure and redesign all the city bus routes to better serve the needs of Richmond today.
When was the last time the bus routes were changed?
The city’s bus routes date back to the old trolley days of the early 20th century. That’s 80 years ago! The Richmond of today looks and functions very differently from the Richmond of the early 1900s, and yet the bus routes were still essentially the same as they were when the trolleys stopped running in the 1940s. Our city is long overdue for a comprehensive transit redesign to meet the needs of today’s citizens and a growing, dynamic city. The Great Richmond Reroute brings much-needed change on June 24.
What exactly is changing?
Under the reimagined system, all city bus routes have been redesigned to improve connections and access, to reflect how the city has grown and changed over the years, and in response to community input. In addition, the redesigned bus routes all connect to the new Pulse Bus Rapid Transit line connects the city from its western boundary at Willow Lawn, to its eastern boundary at Rocketts Landing, running along Broad and Main streets. These new links to the Pulse increase connectivity and convenience across the city. Together, The Great Richmond Reroute reshapes transit service for Richmond and the region.
It sounds like two big changes – the Pulse and the new bus routes.
It’s really not two things – “Pulse” and “new bus routes.” It’s just one thing. It’s all just “the bus.” It’s a new way to get people where they’re going, faster and more effectively, whether on the Pulse, on a regular bus route, or on a combination of the two. It’s one service – one interconnected, fast, efficient service.
Richmond is making a leap into the future with the Pulse and the new bus system. Richmond was presented with a unique opportunity – to bring in a bus rapid transit system and to redesign and modernize the entire bus network. In a nutshell, that’s The Great Richmond Reroute. By tying everything in to the Pulse – the backbone of the system – a faster, more efficient, more connected system is created. Richmond didn’t want to miss this opportunity to transform Richmond’s mass transit system.
What are the overall benefits of the new transit system?
The biggest benefits are increased service and reliability.
What about benefits for riders?
Some benefits of The Great Richmond Reroute include:
- Faster, easier, more reliable service
- Less congestion, less pollution and easier parking
- More access to jobs, hospitals, schools, retail businesses, and the airport
Can you get very specific about what’s new and the benefits?
Specific new benefits and services of The Great Richmond Reroute include:
- New service across the city – the Pulse will take passengers from Willow Lawn to Rocketts Landing in 37 minutes, stopping at 14 busy destinations.
- Direct, easy connections at 8 Pulse stations.
- Faster service and fewer stops, thanks to 6 new high-frequency routes running every 15 minutes. (Routes 1, 2, 3, 4A, 4B, and 5)
- “Clockface frequencies” – this means buses will arrive reliably every 15, 30 or 60 minutes. For riders, this means that a bus is always on its way – missing a bus now means just a short wait for another.
- Simpler and more predictable bus schedules. This is another benefit of clockface frequencies, and it ultimately benefits transit users by making it easier to understand the schedules.
- Fewer downtown transfers needed for many West End, Northside, Southside and East End connections.
- Five through-routes with one-seat rides across town; in other words, you’ll get on a bus and stay on that bus all the way through the city to your destination. (Routes 1, 2, 3, 5 and Pulse)
- Shorter waits for transfers. Under the new system, the longest wait for a transfer is 7.5 minutes.
- More off-peak service; this means more buses available in the evenings and on Saturdays.
What kind of community input was sought during the planning process for the new transit system?
The new transit plan was shaped by a series of public meetings in every district of the city. GRTC also did surveys of the general public and on-board surveys of bus riders. Civic groups and public-interest organizations across the city were consulted. The planning and public input process took place over a year-long period starting in spring of 2016.
During this process, riders and the members of the general public said they wanted their city bus system to provide more frequent buses that would get them to their destinations faster. They indicated they understood that such a change would require realigned bus routes with fewer stops. So, under the redesigned systems, bus stops will be located about every three blocks, instead of about every block as currently. While some riders may have to walk a bit farther to get to a stop, the bus ride itself will be faster and deliver them to their destination more quickly and reliably. Riders and citizens who participated in surveys and public meetings indicated they understood the trade-offs required to create a more efficient bus system that operates within existing resources available for public transit.
That said, when current users expressed concerns about specific parts of the proposed changes, planners worked with those users and made changes to the final recommended network plan, based upon public input.
Who else was involved in the planning process for the new transit system?
The process involved rigorous analysis by city planners and transportation experts. The resulting Richmond Transit Network Plan, known as the RTNP, is a collaboration of expertise from the City of Richmond transportation planning officials, the Greater Richmond Transit Company, and industry experts.
What’s being done to help people adapt to the changes in the transit system?
A new route comparison tool is available to riders who want to look at their current route and compare it to their new route under the new system. Check it out at http://planningtool.ridegrtc.com/. You can also find information on www.thegreatrichmondreroute.com and on www.ridegrtc.com.
Personal assistance is also available. Travel Buddies, Outreach Ambassadors and extended GRTC customer service hours are in place to help riders learn the new routes and tailor travel to their individual needs.
Travel Buddies are tour guides who will literally drive you along your new route, turn by turn, and back again. A Travel Buddy can help you learn your route before the new routes take effect. Call GRTC to schedule your guided tour with a Travel Buddy.
Outreach Ambassadors – also known as Friends in the Field – are knowledgeable personal assistants stationed at bus stops throughout the city. There are there to answer questions and help people learn to use the new system.
Finally, GRTC is extending the hours its customer service center will be open during the launch period.
You can get more information from GRTC about these personal assistants and information services.
Why are the Pulse and the new bus routes going into operation on the same day?
First, it’s important to understand that the Pulse is not causing the bus routes to change. A thorough study of Richmond’s transit needs, the Richmond Transit Network Plan, recommended the Pulse and the new bus routes as separate, needed transportation improvements for Richmond and its region. The City of Richmond then decided to launch The Great Richmond Reroute – the Pulse and the new bus routes – on the same day to bring needed transit improvements quickly and efficiently.
What about paying to use the system? Any changes there?
On the new Pulse service, fares will no longer be paid on the bus, but instead before boarding.
Payment options include:
- Pay at ticket vending machines located at Pulse stations – these will be similar to the fare dispensers you’d find in a train or subway station.
- Mobile payment app – much like people already use for parking.
- Reloadable “smart pass.” (arriving soon)
- On non-Pulse buses, you can still pay at the fare box.
Again, more information on how to pay for the Pulse is included on the RideGRTC.com website.
How will payment be enforced?
An onboard fare inspector will check to make sure passengers paid. These fare inspectors will function much like a conductor on a train. The fare inspectors’ most important function is to educate the riding public, and to help everyone adapt to the new payment procedures. However, repeat offenders are subject to ticketing and a fine.
Are there any discounts?
The launch of the Pulse and the new bus routes will be accompanied by Free Rides Week, June 24-30. This gives both experienced transit users and non-transit riders a chance to try out the system at no cost to see how it can work for them. Otherwise, there is no change to the fare system. To see fares, go to RideGRTC.com.
If you need additional help, call GRTC’s Customer Service Center at (804) 358-GRTC.