First of all, our study team would like to thank everyone who participated in our Phase 3 meetings, surveys and other outreach opportunities. We are in the thick of reviewing comments and updating the recommended network. We plan to release a Final Recommended Network for you early next week.
So, we've heard a lot from the public over the last six weeks. First of all, riders and potential riders really appreciate the simplicity and frequency of the draft recommended network. This system will benefit existing riders by reducing overall trip times and time spent waiting to transfer. It will also make the system more user-friendly for visitors or new riders through simplified clock-face scheduling and more intuitive routes. This means that more people will be able to user transit for more trips and that those who already use transit will spend less time on the bus and more time living their lives.
While most of the feedback we received was supportive, some residents voiced concerns about the proposed changes.
Residents in Richmond's East End wanted the proposed Route 5 to provide service much closer to some key destinations, even if that means less frequent service. We have created a draft map of the planned revisions of East End routes (see below) which will reduce walking distances to destinations such as Armstrong High School and Oakwood. However, bus routes with many turns (such as the more coverage-oriented Route 5 proposed below) take longer to complete. This makes them both slower for riders and more expensive to run. With a limited budget, this draft revised Route 5 would only be able to run every 30 minutes during the day, rather than every 15 minutes. However, communities which value shorter walks over shorter waits may decide that this trade-off is worthwhile.
We've also heard concerns from 64x riders about the proposed reduction in daily trips and our team is closely studying options for increasing the number of daily trips. Commuter express routes, such as the 64x, are more costly to operate than your typical local route. Because their primary service is one-way, the driver makes the return trip with a mostly empty bus, but is still paid the same for that time. Also, because commuter express routes only run at peak hours, these routes require more dead-head trips (trips to and from the garage) which increases overall costs.
We are also studying a slight re-routing of Route 10 from the Expressway to Robinson Street to address issues with difficult turns through Carytown. Further, we have had requests for weekend service for Route 70, which provides workforce access to Phillip Morris. Today, workers who take weekend shifts must walk 0.7 mile from the nearest current bus stop on Jeff Davis.
Once we release the Final Recommended Network, GRTC, in partnership with the City, will begin the next phase of outreach to explain the new network and help existing riders and residents understand how the new system will work. GRTC has scheduled 14 meetings in March as the next step in the public outreach process. GRTC and the City will also begin working on individual route schedules, stop location adjustments and many other implementation issues.