The Richmond Transit Network Plan really does exist!

Despite what Candidate Morrissey may think.

In response to a question about addressing the transportation needs of households that rely on biking or walking, mayoral candidate Joe Morrissey gave this non sequitur response implying that he doesn’t know about the Richmond Transit Network Plan.

Here’s the quote:

First of all, we’ve implemented already and approved by city council, a BRT line that has its anchors at Rockets Landing on one side and all the way over to…not quite, far short of where we need to go—we should go all the way to Short Pump. Here’s the problem that I see: We have one main thoroughfare now, we’re going to spend approximately $53 million for it, and we haven’t implemented a plan or even considered how we’re going to connect arteries to that. For example, the corridors on Midlothian Turnpike, Hull Street, Commerce, Chamberlayne Avenue—those folks need to use those roads to get to the BRT main line on Broad Street in order to get to schools, shops, jobs, and return. As mayor, I would implement and send to city council a resolution to create auxiliary arteries so that we will connect south Richmond and those other folks that I just mentioned—Northside, Chamberlayne Avenue—to the main BRT line.

With the opening of the Pulse next October, it does seem like it would make a lot of sense to study how the existing GRTC routes will interact with the BRT—so many of those routes spend so much of their time trundling down Broad Street exactly where the Pulse will run. Turns out just such a study exists; has been in progress for a good, long while now; and it’s official recommendation will drop in just a couple of months. It’s called the Richmond Transit Network Plan, it’s awesome, and a mayoral candidate should definitely know about it.

Specifically, Candidate Morrissey should know about it because he answered questions about it in a pre-Mayorathon questionnaire. Here’s his response to a question about, win or lose, how he would support the RTNP:

Either as the Mayor, or as a private citizen, I will advocate for adoption of this plan as long as it is in the best interests of the residents of Richmond.

If he plans on advocating for the adoption of it, you’d think he’d know what it does!

But for those mayoral candidates and regular citizens not in the know, the Richmond Transit Network Plan can be confusing and overwhelming. While its biggest impact may be the implementation of the first rethinking of our bus routes in 40 years, its impetus was the Pulse.

From the RTNP Choices Report:

  • Develop a long-term blueprint for transit service for the City of Richmond.
  • Examine opportunities to take advantage of the possibilities that open up when The Pulse, GRTC’s new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service, comes into service in 2017.
  • Facilitate a two-way conversation between GRTC the City of Richmond.

This plan is much-needed and would be totally welcomed without the opening of the Pulse, but connecting the existing transit network to our new BRT spine is what brought internationally-known transit genius Jarrett Walker to Richmond to work on the RTNP. He and his team have produced three concepts for what our revamped bus system could look like and how it interacts with the Pulse. Here’s one of them, the High Ridership Concept, that will be similar to their final recommendation:

Look at all of those sweet, sweet connections. Tap for a bigger version.
Look at all of those sweet, sweet connections. Tap for a bigger version.

Note how the 8, 10, 61, and 62 terminate directly into the Pulse (the black line). Then check out how a bunch of the other lines cross Broad Street at BRT stations. This is totally intentional and exactly the point of this study! Given a new, frequent BRT line stretching down Broad Street from Rocketts Landing to Willow Lawn, we needed to create new ways to connect folks to the main BRT line—so that’s what we did.

This is all great news for Morrissey who, if victorious come November, won’t even have to draw up that resolution to send to Council. With any luck, it’ll already have been passed by the current sitting Council. In fact, the Organizational Development Standing Committee received the official policy direction recommendation from the RTNP on October 3rd, which says to me the legislative process is a’ moving.

But wait! Maybe in that Mayorathon quote, Candidate Morrissey was talking with a more regional focus. Maybe he wants to create BRT arterials on the region’s major corridors like Hull Street, Midlothian, Broad Street, and Route 1? Well, turns out, the state is working on another plan about this very thing! It’s annoyingly called the Richmond Regional Transit Vision Plan (RRTVP (not the RTNP)). This plan will give a state-approved vision for a regional transportation network and will include bus services up and down Midlothian, Hull Street, and Route 1—exactly the places Morrissey wants to see it (he was asked a question about this plan in the pre-Mayorathon questionnaire, too).

By next fall we should have an opporational BRT. Shortly after that we’ll have an entirely new bus system that integrates smoothly with said BRT. At some point along the way our bike share system will debut. Suddenly, while we were all busy pumpkin spicing and Folk Festing, Richmond took a whole bunch of steps towards a real-deal transportation system.

Also!

If all of this sounds fascinating to you (or if you’re confused to the point of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯), there’s an opportunity to hang out with internationally-known transit genius Jarrett Walker on October 18th. He’ll be in town to talk about the progress his team has made on the RTNP and to inspire us with what modern transit could bring to Richmond. You should come! It’ll be awesome.

Author: Ross Catrow

Advocate & organizer for RVA Rapid Transit and the Metro Richmond Clergy Committee for Rapid Transit. Loud clapper.

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