RICHMOND, Va. – Following increased customer volume and subsequent demand for public transit options during the Bus Rapid Transit’s (BRT) construction, city officials announced this morning that new Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) buses will feature increased seating capacity and will take up two street lanes instead of the normal one and a half.
The plan for larger buses went into development after GRTC announced a 31.7% increase in passenger traffic for the year 2016. The wider vehicles will be designed to accommodate 40% more passengers per route.
According to a press release, the new and improved buses will be made six feet wider, travel at slower speeds, and take up the entirety of what’s left of Broad Street during BRT’s construction.
Initial public response to the announcement has been mixed. While many residents have come out in support of more public transit options, some have been critical of the new buses’ presumed effect on traffic.
One skeptic, Shawn Lotskey, expressed concern over rush hour congestion. “Great, rush hour just got an hour longer,” remarked Lotskey in a radio interview with WRIC. “It’s already bad enough that they drive as slowly as they do. Get stuck behind one of them, and the right turn you need to make at the next light becomes nearly impossible.”
Another resident, Deborah Matthews, voiced her worries over the current drivers’ handling of the buses, posting on the GRTC Facebook page: “They [the bus drivers] currently treat the road as their own, and now they’re being upgraded into what’s basically a purple tank built on vengeance? The bikers who never signal don’t seem so bad all of a sudden.”
GRTC plans to introduce the new buses to city roads in Spring 2017. There will also be no sizing modification of current routes to accommodate the larger vehicles. In a recent interview, GRTC representative Daniel Kelmson confirmed that “no streets would be modified for the wider buses because the traffic issues the construction would cause would definitely be an absolute nightmare.”