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Richmond Secures Grant To Paint Pulse Bus Lanes Red

A GRTC Pulse bus pulls into the East Riverfront station.
FILE PHOTO: A GRTC Pulse bus pulls into the East Riverfront station. (Crixell Matthews/VPM)

Richmond’s Broad Street could soon get a little color. 

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney is proposing to paint the bus-only lanes red. He announced Tuesday that the Office of Equitable Transit and Mobility, led by Dironna Moore Clarke, secured a $1.6 million grant for the project. If it moves forward, Richmond would still be on the hook for about $400,000. Stoney submitted the proposal to City Council for approval Monday night.

Stoney said he asked his team to put together the proposal shortly after Richmond resident Alice Woodson was struck and killed by a Pulse bus in 2019 trying to cross Broad Street. 

“I think it’s important for safety reasons but also I’m proud of the investment we’ve made in bus rapid transit, but we still have to enhance and tweak it,” he said.

Stone introduced a project agreement on Monday night. If approved, the city expects the project to be completed by the spring of 2022. 

The GRTC Pulse rapid transit line was unveiled in 2018 and has seemingly confused many drivers since then. 

The Pulse buses carry thousands of passengers each day, moving from their own lanes and re-entering traffic at various points along Broad Street. In some areas, riders are let off at bus shelters in the middle of the street, having to cross traffic to find a sidewalk. 

Moore Clarke, who heads the city’s Office of Equitable Transit and Mobility, said people driving or parking in bus lanes remains an ongoing problem.

“With enforcement a lot of times we are unsure if citizens ignore the bus lane, or they really don’t know where they are supposed to be on the roadway,” she said.

In 2019, there were 1,625 pedestrian-involved crashes in Virginia with 124 fatalities,  according to the Department of Motor Vehicles

Moore Clarke said that in addition to clearly marking the bus lanes, the city will also put together a public engagement campaign around the project.

“That’s really where we hope to start educating and messaging early on, before and during the implementation of the red lanes,” she said. “We really want to serve the interest of the pedestrians, the cyclists and the drivers.” 

The painted bus-only lanes would run continuously from Jackson Ward near Downtown all the way to Interstate 195. The pavement of the bus-only lanes will be painted red, either solidly or in a hatching pattern.