Virginia Commonwealth University signed a one-year agreement with the Greater Richmond Transit Co/ to provide unlimited transportation access on the GRTC Pulse bus rapid transit and regular fixed-route bus service (local and express) for all VCU students and employees. All students and employees of VCU and VCU Health System, including Virginia Premier, are now able to take advantage of these privileges at no cost to the rider.
“This partnership with GRTC provides the entire VCU community with greater access and alternative means to explore and connect to more areas of Richmond — a need revealed through our most recent strategic planning process,” said Michael Rao, president of VCU and VCU Health System.
The $1.2 million dollar initiative will operate as a pilot program for the upcoming academic year — through July 31, 2019.
The city of Richmond recently collaborated with GRTC to rework the area's transit system through the Richmond Transit Network Plan. This has resulted in enhanced service six days a week and new city routes, including several high-frequency bus routes that connect the city north and south, east, and west.
David Green, GRTC CEO, said the partnership presents GRTC with the opportunity to further enhance service for all riders.
“GRTC is pleased to grow our partnership with VCU and VCU Health System and welcome all faculty, staff, and students aboard our modernized transit system,” Green said. “GRTC is committed to responding to the needs of the communities we serve, and VCU is a major community contributing to our entire region. With their substantial contribution and support, we can continue providing clean, safe, and reliable transportation for all of RVA.”
The Pulse, a modern, high-capacity rapid transit system serving activity centers on a 7.6-mile route along Broad Street and Main Street between Rocketts Landing and Willow Lawn, launched as part of the Richmond Transit Network Plan in June. Route 5 is a new, high-frequency route that travels along the university’s existing Campus Connector route and easily connects to the Pulse.
“Because VCU is on board in this capacity, we can also explore enhancing other local service in the city of Richmond,” said Gary Armstrong, chair of the GRTC board of directors. “We recognize how important it is to collaborate with riders and the city on improvements to the new network while remaining budget-conscious; this kind of partnership allows GRTC to evaluate service enhancements that were not possible without VCU’s investment.”
During the first phase of the pilot, students and employees will present their VCU-, VCU Health System-, or Virginia Premier-issued ID card to the bus driver upon boarding to take advantage of the pilot program. New cards for riding GRTC buses will be distributed late in the fall semester or early in the spring semester in 2019.
VCU’s Campus Connector will continue to provide transportation service between the Monroe Park and MCV campuses with existing stops through the end of the year. However, beginning in spring 2019, the service will transition to an express route.
VCU will review the success of the pilot in spring 2019.