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Riding the Bus in Richmond – Accessible Transit but Improvement Still Needed

A man with a can walks to enter a bus on Broad Street as he commutes back home. While all the buses in the Greater Richmond Transit Co. system are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, advocates say more can be done.
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VPM News Focal Point
Wayde Fleming has been using Richmond’s bus system his entire life, and he walks with a cane. While all the buses in the Greater Richmond Transit Co. System are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, advocates say more can be done.

Public transit in Richmond has become more accessible over the years, but advocates say more can be done. The Greater Richmond Transit Co. says it plans to install more bus shelters and better train drivers. 


BILLY SHIELDS: Wayde Fleming is a regular user of Richmond's bus system. He takes the bus every day, and because he has arthritis, he walks with a cane. It's something that has its own challenges.

WAYDE FLEMING: Crossing the street for one thing is challenging and it's hard for you to step up because sometimes they'll be in the middle of the street, they don't pull to the curb, and you stand in the middle of the street and you had to, you know, step up to get on the bus. It's hard for somebody with a cane or a walker.

BILLY SHIELDS: Fleming is well aware of another challenge, what transit advocates call First Mile/Last Mile, which refers to the distance a bus passenger has to walk to get to the bus or from the bus to their destination.

STEPHANIE POWER: If you drive a car all the time, you don't have the same perspective as someone who's a transit rider. I'm a bus rider as well as a biker. So, it's literally simple things like sidewalks that are even, that have a ramp in order to get on them, such that if a person's in a wheelchair, they have an easy way to move to the street.

AUTOMATED VOICE: Stop requested.

BILLY SHIELDS: Users of Richmond's bus system also point out that in addition to uneven sidewalks, there are not as many bus huts as there should be. Something Fleming dealt with recently as he waited on a connection.

WAYDE FLEMING: Some stops don't have no seating, no place where you can stand at in the rain or snow.

BILLY SHIELDS: All of the buses have adjustable ramps to help passengers board, but Fleming says not every driver uses them.

WAYDE FLEMING: The bus driver should automatic let the ramp down, so handicapped people get off and on the bus, they shouldn't have to ask.

BILLY SHIELDS: After Fleming runs an errand at the hardware store, he'll have a two-bus connection to get back to his home on the edge of town.

Billy Shields is a multimedia journalist with VPM News Focal Point.
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