Fulton bus service to improve with several changes planned by GRTC

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 5/10/2019, 6 a.m.
Beginning Sunday, GRTC will usher in faster rush hour service in the Fulton area of the East End, the company …

Beginning Sunday, GRTC will usher in faster rush hour service in the Fulton area of the East End, the company has announced.

The bus company also will tweak service to the Randolph community, extend nighttime service on the Bellemeade/Hopkins route serving McGuire Veterans Administration Medical Center and make it easier for West End passengers to access the coming Whole Foods grocery store near Broad and Meadow streets.

The major impact of the changes that the GRTC board approved last month will be in Fulton.

GRTC reduced service from 15 minutes to 30 minutes on the 4A Montrose and 4B Darbytown routes that allow Fulton residents to connect to the Pulse line for access to Downtown, the West End and South Side.

GRTC first broached the change to Fulton service in February, a week before community organizer Omari Al-Qaddafi filed a still-unresolved complaint with the Federal Transit Authority alleging that GRTC’s big revamp of bus service after the start of the Pulse line reduced service to African-American neighborhoods.

The new schedule restores 15-minute service on the two Fulton routes between 6 and 9 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays, the new schedules show.

GRTC also will institute a revised travel pattern on Route 87 Cary/Maymont that serves Randolph, the company stated, while service on Route 87 Bellemeade/Hopkins from Downtown into South Side will be extended on weekdays until at least 10 p.m., with the last stop at 10:30 p.m.

Routes 50 Broad Street, 76 Patterson and 77 Grove will have end-of-the-line stops to serve the Sauer Center, which is under construction on Broad Street near Meadow Street, and its coming anchor tenant, Whole Foods.

GRTC also will usher in bus stop changes on Routes 1A, 1B, 2C and 56; revise the Route 20 Orbital service through Carytown; and offer 30-minute service during weekday rush hour on the Route 75 Three Chopt connector between Pulse and the University of Richmond.

GRTC also will begin its summer service between the city, Kings Dominion and Ashland.

Additional route changes, particularly creation of a line to serve the new Market @ 25th in the East End, are being prepared to start in the fall after Richmond City Council agreed to boost the subsidy to GRTC by $800,000 to pay for upgrades.

GRTC also is promising to host community meetings in August and September to gather information on changes that might be needed since Pulse bus rapid-transit service launched nearly a year ago.

Complaints about the revamped reduced service for some people who rely on GRTC have been widespread and have been documented in a report that Virginia Commonwealth University released last year.

Garland Williams, GRTC’s director of planning, told the board that more “interaction with the public is needed to get us to where we need to be.” He promised that GRTC would seek information from riders and others on ideas for improving service.