The Greater Richmond Transit Co.’s conceptual plans for the Broad Street bus rapid transit corridor earned approval Thursday from the city’s Urban Design Committee.
More than 100 people attended the meeting held at City Hall. Carrie Rose Pace, a GRTC spokesperson, fielded suggestions and questions from committee members, and says GRTC is still open to feedback on the $54 million project.
“This is your skeleton, this is where we are right now and we’re about to flesh out the body,” Rose Pace says.
The 7.6-mile route, named the Pulse, will connect Rocketts Landing on the east side of town and Willow Lawn on the west. Officials expect it to cut trip times between the two locations in half. Buses will run in dedicated median lanes along Broad Street for much of the route. They will run every 10 or 15 minutes between 5:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on weekends, with the possibility of extending service hours even later, Rose Pace says. The Pulse is expected to be up and running by October 2017.
The Pulse has come under fire from critics who question whether its construction will negatively affect businesses on Broad Street. Concerns have also been raised about on-street parking, access to neighborhoods and cyclist and pedestrian safety along the route. In July, GRTC unveiled an updated version of its plans that incorporated public feedback.
At Thursday’s meeting, members of the board suggested that keeping the bus in a dedicated median lane throughout downtown would be more efficient and interfere less with car traffic. GRTC had considered that option and it would cost $1.8 million more to implement, Rose Pace says. Several members also asked whether the route would be quicker if it connected to Main Street using Governor’s Street instead of 14th Street.
Asked whether GRTC had secured public park-and-rides on either end of the route yet, Rose Pace said GRTC had not. However, Henrico County was “aggressively pursuing” options to make that happen, she says.
Members also questioned how the BRT route would connect with existing local bus routes. In the past, GRTC officials have described the Pulse as a figurative spine for the rest of the system. Rose Pace says the transit company is in the process of studying how best to connect local routes to the BRT system to maximize ease of access and ridership.
GRTC is scheduled to present the designs at the Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 8.