Richmond bus riders get an enhanced downtown transfer hub
Like its predecessor, the new station is temporary.
After a year of construction, the Greater Richmond Transit Co.’s new downtown transfer station officially opened Monday.
The new location is the first off-street transfer hub for GRTC, according to officials. This means passengers have a place away from the street to wait that offers shelter and lighting.
Plus, there’re new amenities at the station along East Leigh between North 8th and 9th streets that passenger Greta Von Kirchmann likes.
“It's good to know that you can come somewhere and charge your phone reliably,” she said. “And that you can come here and get real-time information. That's definitely helpful.”
Those real-time bus schedules are accompanied by route details and displayed on small, electronic screens attached to polls at the station. The hub supports about 20 routes and will handle more than 5,000 connections per day.
“It's been a huge change for riders to be able to make those connections,” said Adrienne Torres, GRTC chief of staff. She added that the site also has cameras and will soon have a direct connection to 911 for emergencies.
As for restrooms, there’s one port-a-potty for passengers and two for drivers — which are locked — tucked away in the northeast corner of the lot.
The new station might take passenger Melissa Pryor, who was on her way home from work Monday, some time to get used to.
“It's kind of confusing at first, but I'm getting the hang of it,” she said.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said despite the improvements, there’s still work to be done to help riders throughout Central Virginia.
“If we want to be a competitive, equitable and welcoming city, we have still a long ways to go,” he said at the transfer station’s opening ceremony. “We got to continue to work on frequency, we got to continue to work on accessibility, we got to continue to work on more routes throughout the entire region.”
Stoney said the goal of the new transfer station is to make it easier for those who rely on the system and for more people to ride public transit.
“What we're demonstrating with this project is that all riders matter, no matter where you live in the region,” Stoney said. “These riders are the fuel to our economy. They’re the hardest working individuals in the Richmond economy. And we know that as we begin to attract more people to the great city of Richmond, they're looking to get out of their vehicles and onto buses.”
The almost $4-million project was built using federal, state and local funds, including money from the Virginia Department of Rail & Public Transportation, said the organization’s director, Jennifer DeBruhl. She added that DRPT started developing a vision for a downtown transfer station in 2016.
“It was all about trying to find a location that worked, and then once GRTC was able to do [provide the space], we were able to close the funding gap and help make this happen,” said Debruhl.
But like the prior transfer station, this spot is only temporary. GRTC officials are looking for a permanent hub before the remaining four-year lease with the city on the current location expires.
GRTC’s Torres said the lease could be extended.
“The piece of parcel that we're on right now is a pretty prime piece of property for the city,” said Torres. “So, they could sell it. We're working together ... hopefully finding a permanent location before that happens.”