New study looks at impact historic transit investment has had on greater Richmond, Va., region

June 26, 2019
The launch of the Pulse BRT increased access to transit and jobs and resulted in a 17 percent ridership increase from July 2018 to April 2019 compared to the previous year.

The Greater Washington Partnership released a new case study, entitled “Richmond’s Transit Revolution: GRTC Ridership and Accessibility Analysis” that analyzes the historic investments made in 2018 in the Richmond metro area that has transformed the area’s transit system into a national leader.

In 2018, the city of Richmond, Va., Henrico County, the commonwealth of Virginia and the Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) revolutionized its transit system with the launch of the Pulse Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line, a bus redesign in the city of Richmond and historic expansion of service in Henrico County. These changes increased access to transit and jobs and resulted in a 17 percent ridership increase from July 2018 to April 2019 compared to the previous year.

“Richmond’s transit improvements present a best in-class roadmap for peer regions nationwide,” said Jason Miller, CEO of the Greater Washington Partnership. “Richmond is on its way to becoming a transit leader, furthering enhancing the Capital Region’s ability to attract and retain top talent. We should all be proud.”

Today, 12 percent of all households in the metro area and nearly 50 percent of households in poverty in the city of Richmond have access to frequent, reliable transit options. The average City of Richmond resident can now access nearly 2,000 more jobs by transit within an hour. In Henrico County, 40 percent of its households in poverty can now access public transportation, and for the first time, much of that service is now accessible during weekday evenings and weekends.   

“The improved access to transit and jobs in Henrico Country and the City of Richmond will be a huge economic driver for the entire region,” said Thomas F. Farrell, II, Chairman, President and CEO of Richmond-based Dominion Energy and co-Chair of the Partnership’s Regional Mobility Initiative. “As Richmond grows as a national transit leader, it becomes an attractive destination in which to live and work, both improving the lives of its citizens and drawing commuters from other areas in the Capital Region and beyond.”

The Pulse BRT, the backbone of the new transit system and the premier BRT in the Capital Region of Baltimore, Washington and Richmond, connects Downtown Richmond to Henrico County with fast, frequent and reliable service. Today, the Pulse was awarded the Bronze Standard by the Institute for Development & Transportation Policy (ITDP), becoming the seventh world-class BRT corridor in the United States.

“Richmond's leap from incremental bus transit improvements to bold infrastructure investment took leadership,” said Michael Kodransky, U.S. Director, Institute for Transportation & Development Policy. “For years to come, daily riders and former car drivers will appreciate more frequent bus service. The Pulse's 2.6 mile segregated segment is notable for connecting to downtown, a model for other cities pursuing similar projects. It is exceeding ridership projections and increasing access to jobs in the region along the entire 7+ mile route. We hope to see other cities pursue this kind of partnership to promote economic development, equity, and cleaner air.”

The case study was released at an event co-hosted by ChamberRVA and RVA Rapid Transit that brought together regional leaders to highlight Richmond's transportation progress in the past year. Today's event, moderated by John Robert Smith of Transportation for America, featured the award of the ITDP Bronze Ranking and a conversation with the Honorable Levar Stoney, Mayor of Richmond; Gary Armstrong, Chair of GRTC Board of Directors; and Jennifer Mitchell, Director of Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. The event also featured remarks from Thomas F. Farrell, II, Chairman, President & CEO, Dominion Energy; Jason Miller, CEO of Greater Washington Partnership; and Dr. Michael Rao, President, Virginia Commonwealth University.

In November, the Greater Washington Partnership released the Blueprint for Regional Mobility, the first-ever CEO-driven strategic mobility plan for the entire Capital Region. Through Richmond’s bold action on transit in 2018, it has a head start on its mobility goals as stated in the Blueprint: faster commutes, better options, and more access.

You may access the full case study on the Partnership's website here.