FYI: the GRTC site offers a trip planner which helps clarify which bus you’d need to get somewhere. The system map (PDF) shows where everything runs.
On a related note, GRTC will host public meetings at City Hall tonight and July 28 to discuss elimination of underperforming routes.
I lived in Connecticut quite a few years ago. When there were high ozone days, the bus fares were free. It made people more aware of pollution issue, the benefits of mass transit, and saved them a couple of bucks. With the cut backs facing GRTC, perhaps a free ride isn’t the way to go, but maybe some sort of incentive would increase ridership.
I live on the Hill and work Downtown.
For the first year I lived here, I beat the life out of my car over the cobblestones and potholes, and paid $100 a month to park (gas, obviously, was negligible). But parking and wear and tear on my vehicle was adding up!
I soon figured out walking or taking the bus took the same amount of time. Living so close to my work, it just doesn’t make sense to drive.
I now take the 13 bus from 25th and Grace. It runs once an hour. If it- or I- am late, I can walk down the Hill and take the 6 bus, which runs every 20 minutes. For me it is quick and convenient (a 6 minute commute!) and I am very glad to have that service.
free buses on high ozone days a fact of life in Metro DC.
Ironically, GRTC plans to cut nine bus routes: http://www.wric.com/Global/story.asp?s=8692780
Will they replace these routes with new routes? I would like to see more busses more often.
Or how about this City actually bring back all of the old street cars that were paved over via a comprehensive light rail system? Norfolk is doing it. So should we. In my opinion, GRTC’s plans to initiate Bus Rapid Transit is just creating an extra step in the whole public transit process; and, consequently, costing more money in the long run. I find it so sad to see all of the historic pictures of street cars that once dominated this City as I compare it with present conditions. With the potential threat of peak oil looming over this country (and frankly, the world), we would be fools to sit idle and not doing something about it.
Magneto… actually I believe GRTC is looking into bringing back the rail street cars and centering on them running down the center of Broad Street where the median is now? Not sure if that is still on the table (like many pipedreams the city has had lately) as it was initially to address “traffic” flow problems and buses but sure would make sense. I rode a many trolley in New Orleans when I lived there in the French Quarter.
We live in an era of excess and want it all. The days of a one car family are gone and now everyone wants their own but now we are paying the price. It wasn’t uncommon years ago for people to “walk”, take a bus or trolley, or share a taxi cab. We need to rethink our bad habits.
I recently moved to Church Hill (27th & Leigh) and work down in Shockoe Bottom. I’m consistently amazed that I’m the only one (that I know of) out of maybe 100 people I work with who bikes to work daily.
Every day, without fail, someone on the elevator comments on how “smart” I am for biking to work, with the cost of parking down here and gas, etc.
Since when did common sense become smart? I’d ride the bus if it was convenient, but I’d have to catch the bus an hour before I actually need to be at work, and I’d have to wait an extra hour to ride it home.
On a bike, it takes me maybe 5 or 10 minutes to get to work (gravity is my friend in the morning) and coming home, it takes maybe 10 or 15, and I get a good workout in the process.
Are our leaders listening? I so want better mass transportation for Richmond and the surrounding counties, and I am sure I am not alone.
“Are our leaders listening? ” But who will foot the bill for this? If it is rail based who will purchase the land much less pay for the construction?
“rail street cars and centering on them running down the center of Broad Street where the median is now” In the grand scheme how functional is this? It takes you up and down broad… from where to where? How many people need to go just up and down Broad everyday?
Effective and efficient mass transit is really tough when dealing with a small decentralized city like Richmond.
Well, what DOES my tax money go to, anyway?
For reference, there is a map of the old trolley routes on this post.
Thanks john_m for the blast from the past on the link provided, and to edg for the closing routes. It seems too easy to have done it correctly at first, and then for whatever convenience of individualism (read Midlothian motor mile) there was, to go with individual routes apparently easier to go on the chopping block if the bottom line is not matching the need of customers. Please respond to the July 28, City Council meeting probably around 3 p.m.
Excuse the posting inaccuracy: I openened the articles link and reread that the first meeting would be held at the early afternoon and July 28 will be held at 6 in the evening.
Important to participate. Bike-riding is a good life example to others, but it really would hurt to lose a ride to work, and Willow Lawn (Route 20) really would connect the County to the city in order to catch outlying bus routes.
â€œOn a related note, GRTC will host public meetings at City Hall tonight and July 28 to discuss elimination of underperforming routes.â€
The term â€œunderperformingâ€ is relative. GRTC is so efficient and well run that itâ€™s difficult to find routes to cut.
Hereâ€™s a quote from the 400-page GRTC â€œComprehensive Operations Analysisâ€ done by a consulting company:
â€œCompared to a group of peers, [11 cities comparable to Richmond] GRTC excelled in measures of financial efficiency, cost effectiveness, and revenue generation.â€
Thereâ€™s no waste, corruption, or incompetence. It makes no sense to dumb down Richmondâ€™s bus service. The proposal to cut routes, build hubs, use short buses, and make riders go to transfer stations to catch another bus doesnâ€™t sound right to me. Itâ€™s like a Rube Goldberg version of a transit system.
Reducing bus routes is a double irony. Not only is the price of gas going up, but GRTC ridership is increasing, too.
The GRTC administratorsâ€™ approach seems to be â€œIf it ainâ€™t broke, fix it.â€ I just hope that in the process of â€œfixingâ€ it they donâ€™t break it.
I am afraid that GRTC is using old stats in determining which routes to cut. Certainly ridership is up due to the cost of gas. This is a time to seriously look at GRTC, look at expanding it! We need more routes. We need routes into Chesterfield and over the Huguenot Bridge.
Did anyone attend yesterdays meeting?
It seems like I and others would appreciate a summary of what was discussed.
I guess the real question not by why are they cutting routes but rather these specific ones…
I personally thought that the lunch time express was never going to work out
Looking at their map:
13/16 and 10/11 look redundant
32/34/37 make 20 look redundant
61 follows the exact same route as several other routes except for one small area
65 – come on, who really goes to Stony Point anyway?
It doesn’t really look like route closing but more consolidation of existing routes… I could be wrong though..
Ummm nice proofreading…
“I guess the real question should not be why are they cutting routes but rather these specific onesâ€¦”
mike, workers probably take 65 to Stony Point and folk living in the developments next to the fashion park might take the bus downtown.
Read somewhere they might cut the Westhampton route. This is a bus that private school kids, VCU students, housekeepers, Retreat Hospital workers, downtown workers, etc use. I know my nieces plan on using the Westhampton bus to school and work.
GRTC should add more routes -make it easy
to use public transport.
I read with interest the comments on our proposed route eliminations. I appreciate your interest in this issue.
As you know, GRTC released the results of our Comprehensive Operational Analysis (COA) this past spring. The goal of this consultant study was to redesign our bus system to better meet the travel demands of the Richmond Region. The study called for more frequent service especially during off-peak hours, additional express service in suburban communities, construction of a downtown transfer center, and establishment of a Bus Rapid Transit line along Broad St. The consultant team also identified a group of underperforming routes and made recommendations to increase ridership on these routes. The COA also identified the need to eliminate several routes where the prospect of increasing ridership sufficient to merit the cost was not likely. The routes that we have recommended to Council for elimination do not meet our minimum standards for ridership and cost recovery from fares.
Unfortunately, GRTC finds itself in a financially constrained situation due to the exponential increases in fuel prices and less than adequate financial support from federal, state, and local government.
It is true that the rise in the price of gasoline has resulted in increased ridership in our system. In particular, Route 16 has seen increased ridership over the last several months. However, that increase has not been sufficient to match the 20% increase in the cost of fuel over the previous year.
GRTC buys its fuel under long term contracts with suppliers and through April of 2009 we will pay $2.62 for a gallon of diesel fuel. The market price today is well over $4.00. If that trend continues, it is likely that our operating costs will almost double over the next year. In real costs, our budget for fuel could go from $5 million to over $9 million. There are only three ways to recoup those costs; cost reduction from eliminating underperforming routes, fare increases, or additional funding from local government.
GRTC is a pay as you go agency and we are facing serious budget issues if we do not address rising operating costs. I believe it prudent to look at the expense side of the ledger before I move to fare increases.
I do not relish eliminating routes that have potential to serve increasing demand. However, the financial reality of today has forced some tough decisions. Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your questions.
John Lewis, CEO
GRTC Transit System
Which bus route numbers are you eliminating?
John Lewis… can you touch upon the proposed GRTC trolley system to save fuel costs and reduce traffic issues along Broad and other streets? Thanks!
This is the boilerplate comment that Lewis left on the Greens site before.
A few things: The City does not have the money to put in a fixed rail solution at this time. That is why the Greens ask about BRT (bus rapid transit) implementation. Regardles of whether it is fixed rail or not, citizens should ask for a modern streetcar system vs. more tourist trolley experiments. Perhaps the City would have more money for mass transit, schools, and citizen needs in general if it was not heavily subsidizing the downtown opera house project.
Ben, Eric, and Scott
Since the recent posts on the board touched on so many topics I tried to capture as much information as possible in one response. It was somewhat similar to my response to the Greens with some added detail.
Regarding your last comments, the routes being considered for elimination are: 67 Chippenham, 16 Westhampton, 11 Laurel/17th St, 20 Northside, 13 Main St/Church Hill, 22 Hermitage, 68 Lunch Time Express, and the 61 Broadrock Shuttle.
GRTC has not proposed a trolley system but rather a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line. BRT combines the efficiency and rapid transit of light rail at a fraction of the costs. Our proposal consists of dedicated bus lanes from Rockets Landing through Main St. Station to Broad St. and terminating at Willow Lawn, high tech/high capacity vehicles, bus stations where passengers can pay their fare and be protected from the elements rather than bus stops. These stations and dedicated lanes would be in the center of Broad St. The average cost per mile for BRT is about $3 million compared to $50 million for light rail. I believe this is a cost effective solution that can be implemented in the short term and lay the ground work and return on investment analysis that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)requires before investing hundreds of millions of dollars in new light rail projects. We are in the early stages of design on the project so many questions are still left to be answered.
For more information on BRT I invite you to visit the following websites:
FTA’s website for BRT – http://www.fta.dot.gov
The BRT Institute’s website – http://www.gobrt.org
Wow, I appreciate the info! I wish BRT success. Brazil and other countries are of US in using BRT.
Mr. Lewis, since we have your attention, I was wondering if I could bring up another GRTC issue that was brought to my attention from a neighbor at last night’s Oregon Hill Neighborhood Association. She says she has had some real problems with the bus drivers. She had one story where a bus driver stopped in the middle of the route to get off the bus and romance a young woman. What is being done to ensure the quality of bus drivers?
meant to say ‘ahead of US in using BRT.’
Again, I appreciate the communication.
All of our buses are equipped with digital video recorders so anytime there is an incident we can go back and check the video log and handle the situation accordingly. Safe and efficient operation of our service is our number one priority and I encourage our customers to call and report any questionable activity.
Also, in my previous response I misstated two of the routes, the 67 Chippenham and 22 Hermitage are being reduced and not eliminated. Also the 65 Stony Point Fashion Park is on the list for elimination.
I apologize for the mistake.
And how can we get them to follow the 25 mph speed limit on M Street?
Mr. Lewis… thank you for addressing our issues and concerns. It is always nice to hear directly from the top rather than through the grapevine.
Guilty Mom does have a valid question as I see buses speed down 25mph streets all the time. I myself have ridden where the driver speeds off before you can get the fare into the collection box and throws you about then brakes at the last minute. For someone like me who have walking and balance issues (early stages of adult Muscular Dystrophy), this is dangerous.
I am also sadden that 13 Main / Church Hill is being cut as again with walking issues, having to get off on Broad and then walk all the way to Byrd Street through Capitol Square in all kinds of weather is a bit inconvenient and when I work until 6:30pm can’t catch a bus from Cary or Main Street back to Church Hill and have to walk the hill to get back to Broad (in the dark during winter). I have a car but there were stretches when I didn’t and with having to pay $125 a month for parking where I work plus gas, now reconsidering GRTC.
Mr. Lewis… I also want to post the below from the Light Rail website that shows studies indicate that BRT is not overall cheaper than LRT…
6 February 2006: “BRT” cheaper than LRT?
“Bus Rapid Transit” (“BRT”) is much cheaper than light rail transit (LRT).
Transportation engineer Edson L. Tennyson, PE (a technical consultant to the Light Rail Now Project) has analyzed this issue extensively, and contends that the “cost savings” of high-quality, equivalently routed “BRT” â€“ compared with LRT â€“ are largely imaginary.
Ed notes that Denver’s C and D LRT lines, Portland’s MAX LRT to the PDX Airport, Salt Lake City’s Trax LRT to Sandy, and St. Louis the MetroLink LRT extension from East St.Louis to Scott Air Force Base â€“ a total of about 45 miles of LRT in all â€“ cost approximately $23 million a mile “including cars and some shops”. Phoenix’s new LRT, presently under construction almost entirely in the street, “is costing more than twice that with five years of inflation (15% total) and much street reconfiguration.” Ed assigns LRT a rate of 3.0 percent depreciation, “so the annual cost of $23 million is $700,000.”
In contrast, Ed points out, Pittsburgh’s West Busway, built at generally the same time as the above LRT lines, cost approximately $50 millon per mile without the cost of buses included â€“ although it had a tunnel rehab involved. However, the busway also benefited from a pre-graded right-of-way from a former railroad. No buses or garages were included in the cost.
The Harbor Freeway Transitway (busway) in Los Angeles also cost approximately $50 million per mile, with less pavement cost for HOV construction but higher station costs in the freeway. Ed figures that, with shorter bus and pavement life, the depreciation rate is 5% â€“ so the annual cost, with the cost of buses included, is $3.5 million per mile … “far in excess of LRT cost. ” in fact, Ed emphasizes, “Five times as much.”
While LA’s “Orange Line” busway cost only about $14 million per mile, plus the cost of buses and their facilities, Ed contends that “that low cost is not honest.” He points out that the right-of-way was previously acquired for LRT (but political problems stemming from local community opposition resulted in legislation prohibiting the installation of a surface LRT line in the corridor).
Ed adds 25 percent to the project cost for the right-of-way, and adds in the cost of the buses, bringing the annual depreciation to about $1.4 million per mile, “double LRT cost.” Then, Ed notes, annual operating cost must be considered.
LRT averages $180 per car hour for a peak load of 125 passengers, equal to $1.44 per passenger or 36 cents per passenger-mile (assuming average trip length of 4 miles). in contrast, Ed notes, buses cost about $100 per hour in larger cities, with 58 peak passengers at the same square-foot occupancy as LRT, so the cost is $1.72 per passenger and 43 cents per passenger-mile (again, assuming 4 miles)
Unfortunately, Ed points out, “There is no real world operating data on a Busway. It is buried in system averages. If we use such averages, buses cost 80 cents per passenger-mile. Hopeless.”
At one point the City had a bead on $40 million in federal grant money to put into light rail. That money is now in Iraq somewhere.
I would not have put it exactly the same way as Scott did in #32…but our thinking is the same. This state is STRAPPED for transportation funding. And I also agree with the gentleman who rides his bike every day- he says what most people say. I would take public transportation but it’s not convenient. Maybe they could just cut back on the routes with less riders and add more in other areas? Riding the bike up the hill in February is really gonna suck.
I just wish that some money would be channeled into fixing our streets and highways instead of putting in a cheap asphalt patch that washes away with the first rain!
I am bouncing this thread back to the top since I haven’t seen any new or related comments on the proposed “rail” system running down the center of Broad Street and elsewhere to help alleviate bus versus car congestion? Anything new on this?
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