GRTC is expanding into the counties and adding a "micro-transit" service
Richmond's transit system is expanding deeper into the surrounding counties and launching on-demand "micro-transit" in underserved parts of the region.
Driving the news: GRTC got the green light this month to extend two existing bus lines farther into Chesterfield and Henrico, the Times-Dispatch reported.
- Meanwhile, the bus system will begin piloting "micro-transit" service in Powhatan, Sandston and Ashland, plus other underserved locations.
Why it matters: It's one of the biggest steps in GRTC's decadeslong history toward a regional transit system, connecting the city and counties — and even the parts of town many still call "the country."
Zoom in: The two bus route extensions will be completed by this time next year and make more than 10 miles — and tens of thousands of jobs — accessible via public transportation.
- GRTC's Route 1A, which currently runs from downtown and down Midlothian Turnpike to just over the city-county border near Chippenham, will go an additional 8 miles west to the Walmart on Midlothian.
- Route 1, which runs from downtown to Chamberlayne just over the city-county line at Brookhill Azalea Shopping Center, will extend 3 miles to the Parham and Brook intersection Walmart.
What they're saying: "This is something that's incredibly exciting," GRTC spokesperson Henry Bendon tells Axios, particularly the Chesterfield extension, which will make at least 25,000 jobs accessible within a 45-minute bus ride.
"Micro-transit," which will be branded Link, functions basically like Uber Pool and will launch this year with service to the first of five approved zones beginning this fall, Bendon says.
- Azalea Avenue/Washington Park.
- North Chesterfield West.
- Sandston/New Kent.
How it works: Users within the zones download an app and request a ride for transportation within the zones.
- A smaller fleet, likely vans, will pick up riders throughout each zone.
- All five zones should be up and running by the end of June 2024.
Of note: GRTC is on track to be fully staffed up on drivers by next year after approving a 40% pay increase in April, per Bendon.
What's next: GRTC is just getting started with its expansion plans.
- 15-minute service on the Pulse line should resume by September.
- It's hosting two open houses this week on the planned North-South rapid transit expansion.
- A study for a western expansion of Pulse is slated to begin next year.
- Work on a Malvern Pulse stop will start in 2025.
Plus, GRTC is finalizing approval and logistics for two more existing line extensions:
- Route 19, which runs from Willow Lawn to just past Short Pump Town Center, to extend into Goochland.
- Route 3B, which runs from Northside to Brightpoint Community College in Chester on Route 1, to extend by 1.25 miles to serve a nearby mobile home community.
Be smart: GRTC's regional growth is a result of the Central Virginia Transportation Authority, Bendon says.
- The General Assembly created the group in 2020 to fund and prioritize regional transportation projects across nine localities.
- It's funded through sales and gas and diesel taxes, and GRTC gets 15% of that money.
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