GRTC proposes service improvement to Maymont-Randolph area

8/16/2018, 6 a.m.
A modest plan to restore a portion of the bus service that was cut from the Maymont-Randolph area as part ...

A modest plan to restore a portion of the bus service that was cut from the Maymont-Randolph area as part of GRTC’s overhaul of bus routes is headed to the board of the transit company for approval.

The proposal is one of the tweaks to service expected to be voted on when the six-member board meets Tuesday, Aug. 21.

The plan calls for extending weekday service an extra three hours on the Route 78 Cary/Maymont bus that serves the largely African-American community in the near West End.

Under the plan, the route would operate from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, rather than service ending at 7 p.m., Garland Williams, GRTC’s director of planning and scheduling, confirmed Tuesday.

If approved by the board, the new hours would go into effect Monday, Sept. 17, along with other changes, he said. Those include new service to the Short Pump area in Henrico County that the county is paying for.

Mr. Williams declined to outline the other proposals for route changes to be included in the package for the board to consider.

When pressed, he said none of the proposals involve service changes for routes serving Church Hill and the East End. Most of the Richmond changes would affect routes in North Side and Downtown, he said, without offering any specifics.

The proposed change to service in Maymont-Randolph follows an uproar from regular passengers used to being able to catch a bus to the community until 11 p.m.

They also saw GRTC eliminate bus stops, forcing elderly and disabled people to have longer walks to catch a bus or disembark when returning home.

City Councilman Parker C. Agelasto, whose 5th District includes the Maymont-Randolph area, initially believed the neighborhoods would have good bus service. He supported residents who organized a community meeting with GRTC last month to air their grievances.

Mr. Agelasto said he is pleased that GRTC is proposing some improvement in service, but he still has questions.

Mr. Williams said GRTC recognized that the service cuts may have gone too far and impacted people who work later than 7 p.m.

The change follows GRTC’s new $1.2 million deal with Virginia Commonwealth University to provide free service to VCU students, faculty and staff, some of whom live in the Maymont-Randolph community situated south of the university.

However, the proposal falls short of what residents had hoped for, including restoring bus service until 11 p.m.

Mr. Williams said the proposal does not include restoration of any of the bus stops that were eliminated. He also confirmed that weekend and holiday service to the area will continue to run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. — JEREMY M. LAZARUS