Bill 597 - A New Start for Regional Transit Cooperation in Richmond

In a recent post, our team at RVA Rapid Transit reported on State Delegate Manoli Loupassi’s efforts to bring the City of Richmond, Chesterfield, and Henrico County together in what House Bill Number 597 is calling the “Richmond Regional Transportation Authority.” House Bill 597 would make some significant changes to the current Richmond Metropolitan Authority (RMA) by equalizing the membership distribution of a sixteen-member board. The City of Richmond and the counties of Henrico and Chesterfield will each have five members on the board, one of whom may be an elected official from each of the jurisdictions. Previously, the Authority consisted of eleven members, one appointed from Henrico, one appointed from Chesterfield and three appointed from the City of Richmond.  Equal representation on the Authority would be the first step to greater regional cooperation around transportation in Metro Richmond.

Also, contrary to previous reporting, Bill 597 will not only give the Richmond Regional Transportation Authority (RRTA) the ability to build and maintain toll roads, but also the capacity to operate a regional transit system. In the words of the legislation the RRTA would be able

“to own, operate, maintain, and provide rapid and other transit facilities and services for the transportation of the public, and to enter into contracts with said City and County or Counties and any public service corporations doing business as common carriers of passengers and property for the use of Authority facilities for such purpose, to enter into contracts for the transportation of passengers and property over facilities of jurisdictions other than the Authority, as well as the property and facilities of the Authority, and construct, acquire, operate, and maintain any other properties and facilities, including such offices and commercial facilities in connection therewith as are deemed necessary or convenient by the Authority, for the relief of traffic congestion, or to provide vehicular parking, or to promote transportation of persons and property, or to promote the flow of commerce that the Council of the City of Richmond and the Boards of Supervisors of the Counties of Chesterfield and Henrico may request the Authority to provide.”

In other words, this bill would provide the political structure for a regional transit system.  This is a vital step the State House of Representatives is taking toward a more cohesive transit system for the Richmond Region. House Bill 597 will be voted on in committee on Friday.