Late last month, the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors heard a presentation from Transportation Director Jesse Smith on a new report out of the state’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation (skip forward about 22 minutes). The report, titled “Evaluation of Transit Service Options for the US Route 1/301 Corridor in Chesterfield County” (PDF), looks at the Route 1 corridor from the city limits to John Tyler Community College and weighs the pros and cons of bringing some sort of transportation to the area.
Smith said, after studying a half dozen different providers, they found two viable options: GRTC and Virginia Regional Transit.
GRTC you should be familiar with—regular ol’ fixed-route buses! To bring service to Route 1, GRTC would just need to extend the existing #3B bus further south. That’s it! That’s all the County needs to do to bring an experienced, reliable transit provider to the Route 1 corridor. The biggest and most obvious benefit of bringing GRTC to Chesterfield, rather than a private provider, is that the County would finally be participating in the existing regional transportation network—not creating a new, separate system segregated off from the rest of the region.
Virginia Regional Transit, on the other hand, provides a deviated fixed-route service in several localities across the state—most notably in Loudon County. This means you must make a reservation with VRT a day ahead of your trip, and they’ll provide you with curb-to-curb service (assuming you live within a certain distance from their fixed route). This sort of call-ahead service pretty much eliminates spontaneous trips. Additionally, if you wanted to connect to the rest of the GRTC bus network you’d not only have to make a transfer, but you’d also need to pay the Virginia Regional Transit fare and the GRTC fare.
However, there is a significant cost associated with the freedom and access GRTC provides: $1.2 million annually. VRT estimates their deviated fixed-route service would cost around $600,000 annually.
It sounds like the Board of Supervisors will consider these two options, think about additional amenities like sidewalks and bus stops, and begin some more extensive resident surveys. Stay tuned.