Richmond Bus Redesign Faces Equity Complaints
The Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) undertook a large-scale overhaul last year, and some think the new system unduly burdens poor residents. A report from Virginia Public Radio's WVTF spoke with resident Carmen Terrell who now faces a longer commute. "A recent redesign of the entire region’s bus system streamlines many routes, and includes a new frequent reliable line called the Pulse. But for many, including Terrell, it means more transfers and longer walks," Mallory Noe-Payne reports for WVTF.
The agency is now being sued on civil rights grounds because, plaintiffs claim, the redesign is unfair to many poor and black Richmond residents. For their part, GRTC representatives point out they have created more frequent service, and increased accessibility of the city. According to GRTC, any routes have seen decreased headways and where routes were cut or changed it was because the ridership there didn’t justify the service. At the same time, "Research out of Virginia Commonwealth University confirms that many low-income residents were negatively affected by the redesign." The same report also says bus routes expanded overall access to the system. Access improvements mean more people can get to points of interests more quickly and more access could make the service more attractive to “choice riders” who could pick bus transit over some other option.
The question: Did the GRTC sacrifice the service quality for those who need transit the most, to get those improvements?
The reviews of the GRTC bus system were much more positive earlier this year, when GRTC was reporting improved ridership figures.