RVA Rapid Transit and Partnership for Smarter Growth
For Immediate Release:
January 22, 2016
RICHMOND— “After years of working to get better public transit in Richmond, Partnership for Smarter Growth and RVA Rapid Transit are proud to announce a strong and unanimous endorsement of the Pulse Bus Rapid Transit project,” said Nicholas Smith, Community Outreach Director for the unified campaign. “We urge Richmond City Council Members to vote in favor of moving this project forward without delay at its meeting this coming Monday, January 25.”
“This Bus Rapid Transit project will help Richmonders get where they are going faster, and represents an incredible opportunity to upgrade our public transit network,” said Stewart Schwartz, Policy Committee Chair for Partnership for Smarter Growth. “With dedicated bus lanes, signal priority at traffic lights, step-free boarding and off-board ticket payment, travel times along the corridor will be cut in half, saving current users time and making public transit a more competitive transportation option.”
The proposed 7.6-mile route would connect many neighborhoods, running from Rocketts Landing along E Main St through Shockoe Bottom to Main Street Station, then up 14th Street to Broad, past MCV, City Hall, the Capitol, the Downtown Arts District, Jackson Ward, VCU, Carver, the Fan, the Museum District, Scott's Addition, Staples Mill and ending at Willow Lawn. Service would run from at least 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. seven days a week every 10 minutes during rush hour and every 15 minutes at other times, making the Pulse a frequent service people will be able to depend on.
“This corridor houses one-quarter of the city's residents and nearly two-thirds of its jobs, making it an ideal first place for a faster, more reliable transit service, the design of which was unanimously approved by the city's Urban Design Committee and Planning Commission,” said Smith.
“For over a generation, Richmonders have been underserved by public transit, leading us to fall to 92nd out of the largest 100 metro areas in the U.S. in terms of public transit service, even though we're 44th in population.” said Nelson Reveley of RVA Rapid Transit. “Our failure to invest in transit and link jobs to transit has contributed to our concentrations of poverty – leaving over 120,000 jobs out of reach of those without cars.”
“This project is the first step of moving Richmond toward the world-class transit system it needs to compete in the 21st century. It's a game changer,” said Schwartz. “Building these 7.6 miles can transform the center of our growing region. It gives us a platform on which to begin the work of a regional rapid transit system for 1.2 million people, 10 Fortune 1000 companies and their employees, and four Universities (VCU, VUU, UofR, VSU).”
The BRT on Broad and Main is only the first step in an expanded and more efficient public transportation system. The Commonwealth has funded two ongoing studies, one to reorganize current routes to make them more efficient and one to expand rapid transit to the surrounding region. Efficient connections between routes and the BRT have already been proposed for the East End and will allow people to seamlessly get to work, shopping, restaurants, parks and friends and family using public transit. Partnership for Smarter Growth and RVA Rapid Transit were catalysts for these studies and are participating as stakeholders in these studies to make sure Richmond has a great plan for moving forward.
“Two-thirds of households in the corridor have one or no cars, 18-34 year-olds make up 57% of the population in the corridor, and the corridor is growing at three times the rate of the city as a whole,” said Smith. “Furthermore, given that about one-third of this area is dedicated to surface parking, this area has an incredible opportunity for investment and redevelopment.”
“Young people are moving back to cities all over the country, and Richmond is no exception, growing at a faster rate than Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover, with over 2,000 new residents each year,” said Schwartz. “With 400,000 people expected to move to Central Virginia in the next 20 years, we need a transit system that moves people quickly, reliably and efficiently, and with this project it is expected that an extra $1.1 billion will be invested into the corridor, which by year 20 will lead to an increase in property tax revenues of $13.2 million each year.”
The project won a highly competitive federal TIGER grant and state funding, so that the city is paying just $7.6 million out of the $54 million total cost. The city will realize an unheard-of 6-1 match, with a guarantee that if there is a cost overrun, it will be fully covered by the Commonwealth. Project construction will be managed by experienced engineers at VDOT, which is highly regarded for being able to deliver large projects on time and on budget.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that Richmond needs to take advantage of today,” said Reveley. “With all the benefits and momentum this transformational project will bring, the sooner we start, the sooner we can move forward to making Richmond the vibrant, connected, inclusive and attractive 21st century city we know it ought to be.”
About RVA Rapid Transit
RVA Rapid Transit is a group of people who want to transform Richmond into a region that provides rapid, efficient, frequent transit for all its citizens. With over 1,500 supporters across the region, RVA Rapid Transit has helped grow support and focus the conversation on better transit in Richmond. RVA Rapid Transit also conducted a study on how to greatly improve Richmond's transit service along key corridors such as Routes 1, 250, 60 and 360, as well as to help secure funding for the more detailed analysis needed to start expanding service. For more information, visit http://www.rvarapidtransit.org.
About Partnership for Smarter Growth
With over 2,500 supporters across the Richmond Region, Partnership for Smarter Growth, works to educate and engage the communities in the Richmond region to work together to improve our quality of life by guiding where and how we grow. As a non-profit, PSG works with community groups, businesses, environmentalists, urban planners, government officials and the public to encourage smart growth design principles and connected communities for which Richmond can be proud. PSG has worked on expanding public transportation, revitalizing communities, promoting urban design, preserving historic neighborhoods and conserving farmland and green space. For more information, visit http://www.psgrichmond.org.