GRTC Pulse: Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
In partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth of Virginia (Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation - DRPT and Virginia Department of Transportation - VDOT), the City of Richmond and Henrico County, GRTC and the Project Team continue activities for the GRTC Pulse Project. GRTC Pulse is a modern, high quality, high capacity rapid transit system that will serve a 7.6 mile route along Broad Street and Main Street, from Rocketts landing in the City of Richmond to Willow Lawn in Henrico County.
BRT systems provide frequent, reliable transit service that allows a greater movement of people along a corridor without depending solely on cars and parking.
There are more than thirty Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems in various stages of planning and operation in the United States. Other BRT systems in the U.S. have seen increases in ridership over existing services, increased investment along the corridor that takes advantage of the enhanced accessibility and reduced dependence on automobiles, particularly within urban settings. This can lead to more residential and retail development, especially within the station areas that provide immediate access to the service.
• Reduce travel time for riders on GRTC Pulse by approximately 33%
• Attract new riders by providing a service with travel times that are competitive with motor vehicles or passenger vehicles
• Improve the reliability of transit operations on Broad Street and Main Street
• Generate increased visitors and travelers to destinations within the project area
• Improve pedestrian safety at station areas with improved crosswalks and refuge areas at station platforms
• Expand the range of job opportunities by increasing the areas accessible within a reasonable commute time
• Leverage opportunities for mixed‐use, transit‐oriented development that will encourage economic development and stimulate property
The 7.6-mile Pulse corridor supports over 33,000 residents and over 77,000 jobs within a half-mile radius.
With population density continuing to increase along the Pulse corridor, GRTC Pulse will:
- Stimulate economic opportunity along the 7.6-mile corridor
- Serve a popular, mixed-use area of employment centers, medical centers, government centers
and institutions of higher learning
- Connect the public to other modes of public transit
- Link the public to many exciting destinations
GRTC PULSE FEATURES
• Modern bus rapid transit vehicles (40-foot BRT Plus CNG)
• 3.2 miles of dedicated, bus-only lanes
• 14 station locations: 5 median and 9 curbside
• Level-boarding for access and ease-of-mobility
• Real-time technology in stations, announcing vehicle arrival times
• Off-board fare collection system
• Informational kiosks and amenities at the station stops
• Accessibility for the disabled, bicycles, baby strollers, etc.
• Transit signal priority for the BRT vehicles
• Queue jump operation at selected intersections
What is the Pulse?
GRTC Pulse (Bus Rapid Transit - BRT) is a modern, high quality, high capacity rapid transit system that offers many of the advantages of rail transit but at a lower and more affordable cost. Instead of trains/trolleys and tracks, the Pulse will invest in improvements to vehicles, stations, operations, roadways, rights‐of‐way, intersections and traffic signals to speed up bus transit service. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems are not uniform with turn‐key transit technology, but represent a spectrum of service enhancements, which vary from region to region. BRT systems are constructed by choosing and integrating various BRT elements, such as dedicated lanes, signal priority for buses, branded vehicles and enhanced station amenities. The integration of these elements improves system performance and the experience for customers, with the overall goal of making the Pulse service accessible, attractive, reliable and, above all, rapid.
What is the big picture, long term vision?
The Pulse is a new concept in the Richmond region and has required careful consideration and prudent planning. The Pulse, which runs 7.6 miles, is the first step to improved and expanded regional transit. In Fall 2015, the Greater RVA Transit Vision Plan kicked off and is examining transit options for the Greater Richmond Region. This Plan is expected to be finalized in 2017. Also underway is The Richmond Transit Network Plan, currently examining transit service within the City of Richmond and, based on public feedback, will provide recommendations for the near future. This Plan is expected to be finalized in 2017. The Pulse project is meant to serve as a starting point for regional improvements to the transit system, which can expand in future years to serve other major activity centers in the region. Regional transit advocacy groups are continuing the big picture conversation across jurisdictions.
Where are we now in the GRTC Pulse project?
Final Design and construction are being performed by the Design-Build Team, Construction information is available on GRTC's official page.
During construction, the public will continue to have access to businesses, organizations and services located along the Project route.
What role will VDOT play in construction?
VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) is the Project Administrator of the Pulse project. They are administering the project on behalf of GRTC and the Project Partners (Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, City of Richmond and County of Henrico). VDOT performed Semi-Final Design from August 2015 to October 2015. VDOT is also managing the Design-Build construction process which includes developing and awarding contracts while ensuring the process is efficient. VDOT contributes award-winning construction management expertise with both cost-control and risk-mitigation.
How will BRT construction affect local businesses?
The Pulse will be constructed entirely within existing right of way and therefore does not anticipate any acquisition of property. LANE Construction and their subcontractors are working closely with businesses to both preserve and encourage access to businesses. This will include relevant signage guiding customers (pedestrian or in vehicles) to the businesses. While Pulse construction is expected to produce some noise and marginal traffic delays, the impacts are not expected to substantially inhibit the local economy. Regardless, the City of Richmond is pursuing opportunities to stimulate business along the route during construction. City residents, businesses and patrons can visit PulseRVA.com to learn more about how to access destinations. Once construction is complete, the Pulse can help continue the current renaissance happening now, as well as stimulate additional investment, along the corridor.
GRTC is committed to informing the public of potential construction impacts, including to parking. Businesses will receive two weeks notification of the upcoming work which will include information such as when construction will occur, where construction will occur and what kind of construction will occur. 48 hours prior to the start of that construction, businesses will receive specific details. Construction updates will be available on local news outlets (TV, radio and web), at ridegrtc.com/brt, the Pulse blog, weekly Pulse updates via e-blast, social media and the Pulse hotline (804-980-0084). In-person meetings will also occur at the request of organizations, businesses, neighborhoods and community centers in the greater Richmond area.
Once the Pulse is in operation, what parking options will be there?
Between Thompson Street and 4th Street, approximately 401 parking spaces on Broad Street will be available, in addition to surrounding off-Broad surface and deck choices. All on-street parking will be prohibited 24/7 between 4th Street and 14th Street to accommodate curb-running exclusive bus only lanes. Parking in the eastern portion of the corridor will only be prohibited at the Main Street Station, 24th Street, and Rocketts Landing platform locations. Currently there is no on-street Broad parking west of 195, therefore no change is anticipated.
There are approximately 1,015 existing on-street parking spaces on the side streets within one block (Grace and Marshall Streets) of Broad Street between Thompson Street and 14th Street. In the same section, there are more than 8,000 off-street parking spaces within one block of Broad Street. Of these spaces, 6,461 comprise short-term and long-term public and private off-street parking facilities. Implementation of the Pulse will neither change nor affect these off street parking spaces.
How will the Pulse affect general traffic?
The GRTC Pulse corridor is designed to minimize the traffic impacts to the corridor.
In the east and west ends, the bus will travel in general traffic lanes with other motor vehicles, as is the case today. Buses generally stay in the farthest right travel lane. This operation is referred to as mixed flow or mixed traffic operations.
Between Thompson Street and Foushee Street, the buses will travel in dedicated lanes in the median. Running the bus in the center of the roadway helps minimize conflicts (i.e., reduces crash rates) with vehicles turning to/from side streets and private entrances, in addition to allowing parallel parking in this dense part of Broad Street. Dedicated lanes are also viewed as a traffic calming tool, allowing vehicles to adhere to the speed limit. Construction of these median bus lanes will reduce the number of general travel lanes from three to two in each direction.
In the downtown section of the corridor, from 4th Street to 14th Street, the Pulse and local buses will operate in a dedicated lane along the curb. This improved bus lane will function like a shoulder-running bus lane and will reduce conflicts between buses, general traffic and pedestrians, increasing safety for all users.
Left turns are restricted at a number of intersections along Broad Street to manage traffic flow and delays. Left‐turn restrictions will continue and additional restrictions will be enforced. At appropriate median-running intersections detailed on the map below, general traffic will be allowed to enter the dedicated left turn lanes to turn, which will increase safety by removing turning vehicles from the general traffic flow.
Lastly, in the long‐term, the Pulse will help manage traffic congestion by providing a high‐quality, transit service that is competitive with motor vehicles, thereby capturing a higher proportion of commuters and other travelers. This will allow the corridor to incorporate higher densities, provide more housing and jobs, in addition to more activity that will allow the corridor to transition to a more pedestrian‐friendly corridor, while maintaining acceptable traffic conditions.
What are the some of the expected benefits of the GRTC BRT?
• Expand the range of job opportunities for transit‐ dependent populations by increasing the areas accessible within a reasonable commute time.
• Provide a permanent transit investment in the Broad Street corridor that will encourage economic development and stimulate property values.
• Leverage opportunities for mixed‐use, transit‐oriented development that will revitalize an economically distressed corridor and improve jobs‐housing balance.
• Create additional opportunities to increase system‐wide efficiency for GRTC and further improve service on local bus routes.
• Attract new riders by providing a service with travel times that are competitive with motor vehicles or passenger vehicles.
• Increase bus speeds by approximately 65%.
• Improve pedestrian safety at station areas with improved crosswalks and pedestrian refuge areas at station platforms. Also add new pedestrian crosswalks in the corridor.
• Improve the reliability of transit operations on Broad Street by providing a dedicated lane for BRT vehicles from Thompson Street to Foushee Street and by improving the dedicated bus lane between 4th Street and 14th Street.
• Reduce travel time for riders on BRT by approximately 33%.
What is the Estimated Project Budget?
Based on the Design-Build contract, the following is the project budget as of May 2, 2016. This includes a project contingency of 5%.
TIGER (FTA/USDOT): $24,900,000
City of Richmond: $7,600,000
Henrico County: $400,000
DRPT/VDOT (Commonwealth of Virginia): $32,016,000
Total Contributions: $64,916,000
"Creative Commons Downtown Richmond" by Brent and Amanda / House of Joy Photos is licensed under CC BY 2.0
"Creative Commons Downtown Richmond (VA) from Libby Hill Park June 2012" by Ron Cogswell is licensed under CC BY 2.0