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New downtown GRTC transfer station will also be temporary

A 'road closed' sign sits in the middle of a parking lot.
The location of a new temporary GRTC transfer station in downtown is adjacent to the space currently being used at 9th Street, between Marshall and Leigh streets. (Photos: Ian M. Stewart/VPM News)

Sixty-six-year-old Curtis Broidy is sitting in a bus shelter at Greater Richmond Transit Company’s current — but temporary — transfer station at 9th Street, between Marshall and Leigh streets in downtown Richmond. He just got off a bus that he rode from the Carytown Kroger, and he’s waiting to catch another bus to get to his job on Broad Street. 

“Oh boy, here we go again,” Broidy said when asked about GRTC’s plans to move the location of its transfer station again. 

The station’s next temporary home will be across the street from its current spot. It’ll be the second time in a decade that it’s been moved, with construction set to be completed by spring 2023. 

Broidy said he’s been riding GRTC buses his entire life and that the transfer station's relocation adds to existing issues that make riding the bus more difficult. During the past few years, he said a shortage of bus drivers has made using public transit frustrating. Some of the routes he relied upon no longer run at all. 

“I don’t know what these people are doing,” Broidy said of GRTC, adding that he’s worried about how moving the transfer station will affect older riders. 

Broidy said he’d like to see the next transfer station become permanent.  According to GRTC, that is not likely.  

GRTC’S Adrienne Torres said the transfer station was moved to its current location on 9th Street in 2014 when the UCI Bike Races came to Richmond. That move was supposed to last for about 18 months.  

“And now it is 2022,” Torres said. “The amount of design, thinking about the riders, and a little bit more [about] longterm was not done.” 

Torres said the station sees about 1,500 riders per day, and most of the city’s routes go through the 9th Street stop.  

The transfers currently take place outside of a building that the city recently sold. The group of developers, which paid $3.5 million for the property, are planning to redevelop the site in partnership with VCU Health, according to The Richmond Times Dispatch. The city told GRTC to move before the current site is demolished. 

“Working with the city of Richmond, we were able to identify the Eighth and Clay parking lot,” Torres said about the new transfer station. “It is very close to where we are today. It was identified as kind of an easy transition [for riders] to still access local routes, express routes and the Pulse.” 

She said the new lot will have room for more buses and enable more efficient departures and arrivals. 

“The new design will have up to 12 bays. This is something that definitely has the riders in mind,” she said.  

Torres added that there will be new shelters to increase comfort for riders and that drivers will have a designated restroom, which is not true of the current location.  

According to a press release from GRTC, a combination of federal, state and local dollars is funding the new $2.2 million project.  

Torres said GRTC signed a five-year lease and that it’s in talks with the city to build a permanent station. But a spot hasn’t yet been decided upon, she said. 

This story was produced with assistance from the  Public Media Journalists Association Editor Corps funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.   

Ian M. Stewart is the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.