Richmond Transit Network Plan

In 2016, the City of Richmond—along with GRTC and Jarrett Walker + Associates—began to redesign the city's bus network to connect seamlessly with the Pulse and to work more efficiently and effectively. Planners released a recommended draft of the plan in January 2017, and City Council approved the core components of the plan (PDF) that February.

$3.8 million in one-time implementation costs were secured from the state (PDF) in February, and the planners will release their final plan in March.

Implementation of the plan by GRTC is expected to coincide with the opening of the Pulse in the fall of 2017.

How do I get involved?

Resources

RTNP Draft Recommended Network

In February 2017, City staff, GRTC, Jarrett Walker + Associates, and Michael Baker International released the Richmond Transit Network Plan Draft Recommended Network.

RTNP CONCEPTS

Three different concept were presented to Richmonders in the beginning of 2016.


Background

A regular trade off in transit is between walking and waiting—how far one has to walk to reach a bus stop versus how long one has to wait for a bus to arrive once you’re at a stop. With a fixed budget, we can either have buses run down more streets but less frequently (a shorter walk, but a longer wait) or we can have buses run more frequently but along fewer streets (a shorter wait, but a longer walk). To provide more of either within a fixed budget you have to unlock hidden efficiency within the system. 

A critical way to gain that efficiency is spacing out bus stops every other or every three blocks so that the bus does not have to spend nearly as much time pulling over, stopping at the curb, and waiting for folks to board. Currently, Richmond has a stop on just about every block.

3-block spacing allows you to do more with your buses (either make them more frequent or travel along more streets) without an increase in operating budget. And even with this change, the average rider would still only have to walk at most a block and a half to reach a bus stop.  

The recommendation

In October 2016, after in-person and online surveys, the RTNP team found broad consensus for 3-block stop spacing with a focus on frequent service (a shorter wait, but a longer walk). The team announced their recommended policy direction to the City's Organizational Development Standing Committee on October, 3rd 2016: 70% of the system's budget should be devoted to offering shorter waits and more frequent service, and 30% devoted to offering shorter walks and service down more streets. They also recommended a 3-block stop spacing.

From the RTNP presentation to the Organizational Development Standing Committee.

From the RTNP presentation to the Organizational Development Standing Committee.

Freedom through transit

Using 70% of the system's budget for frequent buses not only reduces the amount of time spent waiting for those buses, it also increases one's access to the city. How far and how many places you can reach in an hour using transit shows how much freedom you have to move about the city reliably.

In the maps below, you can see how much access to the city opens up once a network of frequent buses are implemented. Neighborhoods in the East End and on the Southside that were once isolated from much of the city now have greater access and freedom of movement.

You can make your own isochrones using this online tool. Put in your home or work address and see which part of the city is now accessible. Check out access from the South Side and East End changes dramatically.

From Jarrett Walker’s book, Human Transit:

...as your own needs vary from day to day, you begin to discover how well the [transit] service responds to those changes. And you get home, or to school, in the middle of the day to tend to a sick child? Can you, on the spur of the moment, stop off at a cinema and see a movie, knowing that it is still possible to get home 3 hours later? Can you quickly figure out how to make other trips elsewhere in the city, to visit friends across town, or attend medical appointments, or to go shopping? In short, does the transit system help you to feel free—able to enjoy all the riches of your city in a spontaneous way?

About Jarrett Walker + Associates

Jarrett Walker + Associates, internationally recognized transit experts, are helping with the RTNP. They very recently revamped Houston’s bus network, which switched successfully from a hub-and-spoke to a grid with higher frequency on key corridors and expanded weekend service. So far Houston’s transit ridership has grown 7.5% with a goal of 20% by fall 2017. The kind of frequent service Houston has crafted enables riders to move about their city more reliably—without significant delay—even if their plans change or they miss a bus.


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