Updates​

Sep 07
Project Update

The Richmond Transit Network Plan was completed on March 8, 2017. Since then, we've been busy working with the City and GRTC on implementation.

We released our ​​Final Recommended Network in March. Those maps have been slightly updated since. To see those updates, check out the latest (as of August 2, 2017) maps: D​aytime City​​, Nighttime City, ​Daytime Downtownand Nightime Downtown​​. For ongoing updates about implementation, please check GRTC's Website

To everyone who participated in this process in any way, by attending a public meeting, submitting comments, acting as a community stakeholder or taking our surveys, thank you! You all helped make this process a better reflection of our community's values.

Feb 28
What We've Heard!

​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.

East End

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.

 

Route 64x

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.

Other Routes

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.

What's Next

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.

Jan 11
COMING SOON: Directness and Through Routing

This week, we will be highlighting design features of the Draft Recommended Network. The Draft Recommended Network will be released January 17, 2017.

Two key features of the Draft Recommended Network are its focus on direct routes and on routes that run through downtown without terminating there.

Routes that run as direct as possible between major activity centers help foster higher ridership by providing shorter travel times between major destinations. When transit route deviate from major corridors to serve a small group or just one person, that deviation slows down the trip for all other passengers on the bus. This discourages ridership. Direct routes also make the transit system more legible and understandable to the general public.

Watermark-linearity-700x455.png 

 

Running routes through downtown, particularly frequent routes, provides a number of benefits. Through running will allow for faster and more reliable cross-town travel by allowing some passengers to continue traveling without transferring downtown. It also provides some operational efficiencies for GRTC by creating more natural cycle times for some routes. Through running routes also helps to develop a web of interconnected frequent lines within downtown that creates a frequent downtown circulation system.

This change, though, will require GRTC and the City to develop driver break facilities at the outer ends of routes, so that drivers needn't take breaks as their routes pass through downtown. In many cases these break facilities could be arranged with existing businesses near the end of a route.

Jan 10
COMING SOON: Clockface Frequency

This week, we will be highlighting design features of the Draft Recommended Network. The Draft Recommended Network will be released January 17, 2017.

Richmond will soon join the many transit agencies who design routes, and write schedules, so that routes have "clockface frequencies." This means that the time between buses at any given stop is 15, 30 or 60 minutes. This pattern in a schedule is far easier for most people to recognize than frequencies that don't relate to 60 minutes (such as every 17 minutes or every 48).

On an hourly route, for example, the schedule becomes vastly easier to understand and remember if the bus leaves at the same time in each consecutive hour. If you know that the bus leaves at :15 after each hour, and when service begins and ends each day, you know the entire day's timetable.

Clockface frequencies are especially important for low frequency, such as hourly or half-hourly, routes. At these frequencies, trips must be planned around the limitations of the timetable, so a timetable that can be easily remembered makes it simpler to plan those trips spontaneously. This contributes to greater user freedom.

Another valuable aspect of clockface frequencies is that timed connections can be scheduled to occur regularly at a key transfer points between two routes with different frequencies. With careful scheduling, these timed connections can help make transfers between low frequency routes easier and can make connections between low and high frequency routes much easier.

These timed transfers are only possible when all routes are designed with frequencies that divide evenly, such as 15, 30 and 60 minute frequencies. For these reasons, all routes in the Draft Recommended Network, to be released on January 17, are designed to be 15, 30 or 60 minute frequencies.

Clock-Face Scheduling Graphic-02.png 

Jan 09
COMING SOON: Higher Frequency

​​This week, we will be highlighting design features of the Draft Recommended Network. The Draft Recommended Network will be released January 17, 2017.

Transit conversations often focus on where transit is provided rather than when it is provided. The "when" of transit service can be described as "frequency" and "span" (how many hours per day, and days per week, it runs). The new Draft Recommended Network calls for more interlocking high-frequency lines. 

Frequent transit service tends to attract high ridership because it has the simplicity of a road: it is there any time you need it. Frequent service also:

  • Reduces wait (and thus overall travel) times
  • Improves reliability (if something happens to your bus, another one is always coming soon)
  • Makes transit service easier to use and reduces the need to consult a schedule (if you know a bus is coming soon, you will be willing to stand and wait for a few minutes)
  • Increases capacity (moving more people, with less crowding) on busy routes or at busy times and makes transferring (between two frequent services) fast and reliable​​​​​​

​​Many people assume that today, with real-time transit arrival information (like GRTC's Transit On The Go or Bus Tracker apps) and smartphones, nobody needs to wait for a bus anymore, and frequency therefore doesn't matter – if a bus only comes once an hour, that's fine, because your phone will tell you when it is a few minutes away and you can wait until then to walk to the stop. However, waiting doesn't just happen at the start of your ride, it also happens at the end. Many of the places we go don't let us hang out until our bus's arrival is imminent (such as a workplace or store that is closing).

If your bus is infrequent and the schedule doesn't line up perfectly with your desired arrival time, you have to choose between being very early or too late. If you start work at 8:00 a.m. but the hourly bus passes your workplace at 8:10 a.m., you can be 50 minutes early or 10 minutes late.

Real-time arrival information also doesn't make the bus more reliable, but frequency does. Your smartphone can tell you when your bus is arriving, but it cannot prevent your bus from having a problem and being severely delayed, or not showing up at all. Only frequency – which means that another bus is always coming soon – can offer this kind of reliability.

So how frequent is "frequent enough"? A good way to think about this is to imagine waiting one-half of the stated frequency (hourly, half-hourly, etc.), on average (since statistically, you will) and ask yourself whether you could tolerate waiting that long, regularly. The new Draft Recommended Network recommends a number of high-frequency routes where buses come every 15 minutes. This, along with the planned Pulse BRT on Broad street, create a strong, high-frequency network that supports a variety of trips all day.​

Jan 03
Draft Network Release on January 17

Keep an eye out on this site for the release of our Draft Recommended Transit Network on January 17. This will then be followed by the previously announced public meetings happening the second half on January where our team will explain the draft network and how it compares to today's network.

And speaking of public meetings, we're pleased to announce one additional meeting happening January 24th from 6 to 8pm at the Calhoun Community Center in Gilpin Court. Our home page list of ​public meetings has been updated to include this new meeting. Look forward to seeing you all out there to talk transit this new year!

Dec 19
Coming Soon: Public Meetings on Recommended Transit Network

​We are excited to announce that in January we will release our Draft Recommended Transit Network. We will present the Recommended Network at a series of public meetings across the city. The current meeting schedule is as follows:

January 18, 12-2pm, Main Public Library Auditorium, 101 E Franklin St

January 18, 6-8pm, DMV Central, 2300 W Broad St

January 19, 6-8pm, VCU Sports Medicine Building, 1300 W Broad St

January 21, 12-2pm, Peter Paul Development Center, 1708 N 22nd St

January 24, 6-8pm, Calhoun Community Center (Gilpin Court), 436 Calhoun St

January 26, 6-8pm, Partnership for Families Northside, 800 W Graham St

January 30, 6-8pm, Hillside Court Community Center, 1500 Harwood St

January 31, 6-8pm, Southside Community Services Center, 4100 Hull St

Each meeting will include the same information. At the meetings you can view the recommended bus network, the frequency of service, when it will run and how it all connects you and the city. There will be a presentation starting 15 minutes after the meeting begins and a time for questions after the presentation. Mark your calendars and plan to be there to learn about the recommendations and to give us your feedback.

Oct 07
How did you like our Concepts?

Well, it's been a long summer. We introduced our three concepts to the public in June, launched our online survey in July, held eight public meetings in July and August and spent four days surveying at the Transfer Plaza Downtown. We had great community partners go out to various places and events to spread the word about our meetings and to survey the public about our concepts. And we had numerous media outlets explain our concepts including articles in the Times-Dispatch, Richmond Magazine, the Free Press and on WCVE Radio.

Phase 1 Survey Results

Now we have our results. Let's start with our Phase 1 survey results. In April and May we surveyed riders on the bus and the general public about their desire for change and in what direction. A key question we asked the 2,000 riders we surveyed was how to balance walking versus waiting. As we've previously discussed, you can't minimize both within a fixed transit budget.

As shown below, nearly 47% of current bus riders (over 2,000 surveyed) considered a shorter wait as more important, 30% felt they were equally important and 23% considered a shorter walk more important. This would suggest that we should shift toward a higher frequency and higher ridership focused system.

 

Similarly, we asked our stakeholder committee about their preference for how the city should spend its transit budget, more on ridership and frequency or more on coverage. The current system is about 50% of each. At the time, the median response of our stakeholder committee was at 70% Ridership and 30% Coverage.

 

The Three Concepts

Of course, these are very abstract ideas, so we developed our three concepts. Our three concepts represent a spectrum of choices in a number of ways:

  • The Familiar Concept represented the least change from today's existing system. It maintains the existing 50%-50% split between Ridership and Coverage goals and maintains today's existing bus stop spacing.
  • The High Coverage Concept represents change in the direction of higher coverage but with wider stop spacing. It maintains the existing 50%-50% split between Ridership and Coverage goals but assumes that we space stops farther apart, about every three blocks. It also includes many changes in the way routes connect across the city.
  • The High Coverage Concept represents change in the direction of higher ridership and higher frequency along with wider stop spacing. It shifts the way resources are spent to 80% Ridership and 20% Coverage and assumes that we space stops farther apart, about every three blocks. It also includes many changes in the way routes connect across the city.

Phase 2 Survey Results

We asked people to rate our concepts through online and paper surveys. 893 people responded to our survey. The age, race and income profile of our respondents is not far from the general population of Richmond. On age, 2% of our respondents were under 18, 34% of were 18-35 years old, 55% were 35-64 and 9% were over 65.

On race and ethnicity, 33% of our respondents identified as African American or Black, 44% identified as White, 5% identified as some other race or ethnicity and 18% provided no race or ethnic background. By comparison, 2014 Census data indicates that the population of Richmond is about 49% African American or Black, 40% White and 4% Hispanic and 7% other.

On income, 22% of our respondents earn less than $10,000 a year, 22% of our respondents earn between $10,000 and $40,000, 24% earn between $40,000 and $80,000 and 25% earn over $80,000, while 7% did not respond to the income question. Median household income in the city in 2014 is $41,331 and about half of our respondents earn less than the median and about half earn more than the median.

So how did people like the three concepts? In our survey we asked people to rate each concept from between 1 and 5 stars, with one star meaning you disliked the concept and 5 stars meaning you liked it a lot.

Most people were lukewarm about the Familiar Concept. It received mostly 1, 2 or 3 star ratings and an average rating of 2.51.

On average people rated the High Coverage Concept better with mostly 3 and 4 star ratings and an average of 3.16.

Overall, most people responded most positively to the High Ridership Concept which received mostly 3, 4 and 5 star ratings and an average rating of 3.78.

 

These results suggest that overall people want change and that they generally want change in the direction of higher ridership and higher frequency.

We also specifically asked people about bus stop spacing. Since the High Coverage and High Ridership Concepts assumed that bus stops would be spaced farther apart, we asked whether people wanted to change stop spacing.

We asked if they wanted to keep stop spacing like it is today (about every block), spread them out to every 2nd block or spread them farther apart to every 3rd block.

 

 

Respondents strongly favored wider stop spacing, with nearly 62% saying every 3 blocks and 30% saying every 2 blocks.

Mapping the Results to the Policy Choices

As we said when we introduced our concepts, the choice here is not between just these three concepts, but is instead in space between all three. Actually, there are 12 options and our three concepts frame the points of a triangle that show the range of those options. So below we have created a visual of the various combinations of policy options. And we have mapped the survey responses within the boxes of the triangle to show how responses fit within these policy options.

The Familiar Concept is at the top left of the triangle, which represents the least change from today in stop spacing and in shifting the Ridership vs Coverage (50%/50%) focus of the bus system.

The High Coverage Concept is at the bottom left of the triangle and represents the most change in stop spacing but the least change in the Ridership vs Coverage (50%/50%) focus of the system.

The High Ridership Concept is at the bottom right of the triangle and it represents the most change in stop spacing and the most change in the Ridership vs Coverage (80%/20%) focus of the system. The other boxes in the triangle represent other options between these concepts, such as 60% Ridership/40% Coverage and 2 block stop spacing.

 

The plurality of responses (39%) map to a place of 70% Ridership and 3 block stop spacing. The second largest group (21%) maps to 70% Ridership and 2 block spacing. The third largest group (10%) maps to 80% Ridership and 3 block spacing. The fourth largest group (8%) map to 60% Ridership and 3 block spacing. Seventy-eight percent of respondents fall within one of these four groups.

We asked our stakeholder committee to respond to the same survey and mapped their results. Their responses map similarly to the public responses, but with a stronger inclination toward ridership. The largest group maps to 70% Ridership and 3 block spacing and the second largest to 80% Ridership and 3 block spacing.

 

Next Steps

Based on these results, the City staff and administration has recommended to City Council that approximately 70% of resources for transit in the city should be put toward service that maximizes ridership and 30% of resources should be put toward covering other areas of the city with low ridership potential.

In addition, the City staff and administration have recommended that stops be spaced on average every three blocks in walkable areas with high ridership potential. A more detailed stop spacing policy will be developed to clarify the preferred stop spacing distance and where and how it should be applied.

City Council is expected to review and consider these policy recommendations in November and December. In the meantime, the study team will begin development of a recommended network that reflects the final, approved policy direction from the City. We expect to release the Draft Recommended Network in January 2017.

Jun 30
Visualizing Transit Choices: 3 Concepts for a New Network

​It's time for more transit choices. Our team has created three concepts for our transit network in Richmond. The triangle below shows how the three concepts frame space for deciding how the community wants the system to change (very little change, a coverage-focus change and a ridership-focus change). The space in between each point represents a spectrum of possibility available. One choice spectrum is more change vs. less change. The other is more coverage vs. higher frequency. We want the public, local stakeholders and elected officials to tell us where they feel comfortable within the range of possibilities.

 

While each concept illustrates an extreme, each has characteristics in common:

  • All can be run within the existing 2017 budget for bus operations in the city.
  • All have been planned for seamless connections to the Pulse BRT.
  • All run on clock face scheduling principles.
    • This means that all bus routes run on standard 15, 20, 30 or 60 minute frequencies which makes remembering a schedule easily because the bus will always come at standard intervals. For example:
      • A 15 minute frequency route would come at 1:05, 1:20, 1:35, 1:50, 2:05 and so on all day.
      • A 30 minute frequency route would come at 1:11, 1:41, 2:11, 2:41 and so on all day.
    • This also makes it easier to create timed connections between lower frequency routes.
  • All lower frequency routes to downtown (20, 30, 60 minute frequencies) run through current temporary transfer plaza in 2017 and shift to permanent transfer center in the future.

Familiar Concept:

The familiar map (see image below) is very similar to the existing system. Limited change means fewer current riders must change their patterns.

Click here to see a map.

The familiar concept provides shorter walks to bus service along more streets but the trade-off is that people still have long waits before a bus arrives on most routes. Those with mobility issues will find it easier to access service because stops will be closer to more people. But since waits will still be long on most routes, fewer people will find the service useful and fewer will ride compared to the High Ridership Concept.

In this concept, half the budget will be dedicated to coverage (spreading service along more miles of road with less frequency to reach lower-density areas) and half to ridership (high-frequency service along major corridors to capture more riders). This is similar to the current coverage-ridership split in the current GRTC system.

This concept keeps stops placed roughly every block (as they are with the current GRTC network). Therefore GRTC buses would travel slower than the High Ridership or High Coverage Concept.  Slower travel speeds mean that buses are less convenient and that the budget won't go as far (because the City is spending budget running buses more slowly instead of more frequently).

High Coverage Concept

The high coverage map (see image below) minimizes walking distances to bus service and increases the number of streets with bus service. However, this means that people will wait longer before a bus will arrive on most routes.

Click here to see a map.

Just like with the familiar map, those with mobility issues will find it easier to access service because more routes will be closer to more people. However, by spreading service thinly most routes run infrequently. This means longer waits. It also means fewer people will find service useful and fewer will ride compared to the High Ridership Concept.

As with the familiar map, half the budget will be dedicated to coverage (spreading service along more miles of road with less frequency to reach lower-density areas) and half to ridership (high-frequency service along major corridors to capture more riders), just like the current GRTC network does..

This concept assumes that GRTC buses can run about 20% faster by thinning-out bus stops.  Instead of a bus stop at every block there would be stops at every third block on average.

High Ridership Concept

The high ridership map (see image below) minimizes wait times for bus service and focuses on providing high-frequency service along major corridors with high densities of people and jobs. However, this means that people must generally walk further to reach a route than they do today. Despite this, most people's trips will be faster because they will spend less time waiting.

Click here to see a map.

The high ridership concept provides less service to low-density areas because providing transit to low-density places predictably results in low ridership. However, service to medium and high-density areas will become much more frequent. Frequent service eliminates the need for planning travel around a transit schedule. Riders can go wherever they want because a bus will always be coming soon. Routes with service frequency of every 15 minutes would mean an average wait of 7.5 minutes. This also means that where red lines (high frequency routes) cross, people can quickly transfer.

In this concept, eighty percent of dollars are spent on more frequent routes that will attract high ridership. Twenty percent of dollars are spent on providing lower-frequency service to lower density areas. Like the high coverage map, this concept assumes that GRTC buses can run about 20% faster than they do today. This requires thinning-out stops, so that instead of a stop at every block there would be stops at every third block on average.

Additional information:

See the Concepts Overview and the Concepts Compare sections for additional background and information on these concepts. You can also find more information and summaries of our Phase 1 Public Meetings and our Choices Report on this blog.

Follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/richmondtnp/) and on Twitter (@RichmondTNP) for regular updates.

Jun 09
Choices Report Announcement

We are excited to announce the release of the Choices Report!

You can view and download the report from the links below:

Richmond Transit Choices Report - May 2016 - Print Quality (30MB PDF)

Richmond Transit Choices Report - May 2016 - Smaller File Size (4MB PDF)

This Choices Report is the first step in the City of Richmond's Transit Network Plan. It lays out certain facts about transit and development in Richmond, and draws the reader's attention to major choices that these facts force us to wrestle with.

The Choices Report offers:

  • An overview of key transit trade-offs;
  • A market assessment of development, jobs, residents, activity and zero-car households in the City of Richmond;
  • A needs analysis to show the spatial distribution of several populations which are key transit users;
  • An assessment of current network and route-by-route productivity and ridership analysis;
  • Review of the Temporary Transfer Plaza, and
  • Interesting trends in Richmond's bus network.

So take a look at the Choices Report and let us know what you think!

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