In some ways, bus travel hasn’t changed much in decades: bus routes often follow old streetcar lines that haven’t been re-examined for years, riders still line up one by one at the front of the bus to board, and introduction of digital-age technology has not led to a revolution in bus efficiency or reliability. At the same time, buses are facing new challenges: increasing traffic congestion and construction-related disruptions are contributing to declining average travel speeds across the city.
Richmond, right? Not so fast! It's taken from the TransitCenter's report about fixing New York City's buses (PDF) but sure does sound like it could apply to RVA. Luckily, a lot of the suggested fixes in this report are going on right now:
- The Richmond Transit Network Plan will redesign the bus network for more frequent and efficient service.
- The Pulse will feature off-board fare collection to speed up boarding, optimized traffic signals, and some dedicated lanes.
- The GRTC app shows real-time bus location and arrival information.
Could we do more? Sure! One of the recommendations for NYC is to institute a comprehensive open data policy. In town, this would be rad and allow for some of Richmond's transit nerds to do some really cool things. But make no mistake, things are moving in Richmond!
Slowly but surely things are moving forward for the rest of the region, too. It's great timing, because the challenges Richmond faces—congestion, zero-vehicle homes, citizens that live and work in disparate locations—are also challenges faced by the region.
The great thing about starting to build a truly regional transit network now, is that we can plan with these transit best practices in mind. It's an opportunity to start fresh. Lucky for us, the current regional transit network, in as much as it exists, is not built on old streetcar lines—it's a mostly blank slate!
We can start from scratch, work together, and build a first-class metro-area rapid transit system.