Quality Bus Rapid Transit Drives Systemwide Ridership Improvements in Richmond, VA

Richmond, Virginia has achieved a big ridership bump, without a big investment.

1 minute read

January 11, 2019, 9:00 AM PST

By Casey Brazeal @northandclark


f11photo / Shutterstock

Since a system redesign and adding new bus rapid transit (BRT) route, ridership has climbed 21 percent in the city of Richmond, Virginia. Meanwhile, ridership is falling in many U.S. cities, especially on buses. The Greater Richmond Transit Company system achieved these ridership improvements with a modest increase to its annual budget, some county and city capital funds, and a TIGER grant from the federal government. The most important change was the opening of its new seven-mile Bus Rapid Transit line, "The Pulse," which includes three miles of dedicated lanes and many of the features that make BRT faster than conventional bus service," Angie Schmitt reports for Streetsblog USA.

With less than a quarter of a million people, the city shows how medium-sized communities can use strategic investments to make big transit improvements. In Richmond's case, the addition of BRT was coupled with a redesign of the bus routes. "The new routes offer increased service frequency on five lines. The redesign, which does require riders to transfer more frequently, was cost-neutral for the agency," Schmitt writes. While riders sometimes push back against these types of route redesigns, not wishing to switch buses, the rework has been popular so far.

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