regional

VCU and GRTC sign a three-year agreement

Earlier this week, VCU signed a three-year agreement with GRTC to continue their unlimited rides program for all VCU, VCU Health System, and Virginia Premier students and employees. The program, which provides unlimited rides across the entirety of GRTC’s bus network, is extremely popular:

In a recent VCU survey, 95.4% of students and employees expressed support for a continuation of the existing transportation agreement VCU and GRTC have been piloting since August 2018. Since January, VCU community members have accounted for approximately 12% of GRTC’s total ridership, averaging 87,400 trips a month.

Not only will VCU extend their agreement with GRTC through 2022, but they’ll pay more for it, too. Beginning in August, the University will pay $1.42 million for the first year, $1.57 million and $1.65 million the following two years. VCU paid $1.2 million for its first pilot year.

Keeping the region’s largest employer (and university) on the bus is a huge win for the Richmond region. Now, it’s up to other larger employers in transit-accessible locations to begin offering similar bus pass programs to their employees, too.

April’s (great) GRTC ridership stats

At least week’s board meeting, GRTC released another round of ridership numbers (PDF) that showed, yet again, Richmonders continue to get on the bus.

Some highlights:

  • Since this past July, the entire GRTC system saw 7.1 million rides and, with a couple months left in the fiscal year, is just 300,000 rides from eclipsing last fiscal year’s total.

  • Across the system, ridership is up 17% compared to this time last year.

  • April was the second highest ridership month since this past October, with 772,979 rides.

  • The average weekday ridership of the Pulse has reached 7,075. This is over twice the original goal of 3,500 rides.

  • In April, VCU-affiliated folks took 102,278 rides, which made up 13.5% of the entire system ridership.

  • The data provided by GRTC doesn’t line up quite right to figure out exactly what percentage of rides on the Pulse are taken by VCU-affiliated folks, but it’s somewhere around 30%.

As you can see, Richmond continues to buck the national trend of decreasing bus ridership using a simple recipe of fast, frequent, and reliable service. The more the region continues to invest in high-quality public transportation, the more folks will ride.

You can read the press release over on GRTC’s website.