|System||Greater Richmond Transit Company|
|Began service||June 24, 2018|
|Predecessors||Richmond Union Passenger Railway|
GRTC Line 6
|Length||6.8 mi (11 km)|
The GRTC Pulse (often abbreviated as The Pulse) is a bus rapid transit line in Richmond, Virginia, United States. The line runs along Broad Street and Main Street in central Richmond, between The Shops at Willow Lawn and Rockett's Landing. It opened on June 24, 2018, and is the third bus rapid transit service to be constructed in Virginia. The Pulse is the first regional rapid transit system to serve Richmond since 1949.
Before the bus rapid transit system, the city was served by conventional buses operated by the Greater Richmond Transit Company. Bus service in the city began on February 1, 1923, and replaced the city's streetcar system when it ceased operations in 1949. From 1888 until 1949, the city was also served by streetcars via the Richmond Union Passenger Railway.
Original plans for rapid transit in Richmond originated as early as the 1990s, with case studies for light rail and bus rapid transit being studied by the City of Richmond. In 2003, Richmond's Department of Transportation conducted a two-year feasibility study on commuter and light rail in the Greater Richmond Region. The studies found that the lines would be moderately successful, but population in Richmond was not dense enough to demand either said service. Since the studies, other independent groups have begun their own series of studies given Richmond's higher than expected population growth and the region's expected population growth.
In 2010, formal studies began to test the feasibility of a bus rapid transit line, rather than light rail line. The decision to pursue BRT rather than LRT prompted mostly negative reactions from the community, who primarily preferred light rail over bus rapid transit. The Greater Richmond Transit Company has remained open about upgrade the Pulse's initial line to a light rail line in the foreseeable future, should ridership dictate capacity beyond that a BRT system. Feasibility studies, stakeholder analysis, alternative assessments, and environmental impact studies, research was complete in mid-2014.
In late 2014, GRTC unveiled the first set of bus rapid transit plans, which involved several stations stretching from Willow Lawn down to Rocketts Landing. The Main Street Station would serve as the central transportation hub for the Pulse, linking the line with Amtrak, Transdominion Express, Megabus and Central Virginia Express.
On March 17, 2015, GRTC announced that the line would be called the Pulse.
The project team is currently working in the Preliminary Engineering Phase which will be completed by July 31, 2015. The team is also working to contract with a Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) construction firm who will work hand-in-hand with architectural designers to finalize the design of the project. That project delivery method will allow GRTC to begin early construction commitments by June 2016, approximately three to four months prior to design completion. Construction will last until August 2017. Between September 2017 and October 2017, BRT operations will be tested and accepted. Final BRT operations will begin by October 2017.
The project has an estimated construction cost of $53 million to provide service from Willow Lawn in the west to Rocketts Landing in the east, including fourteen stations and over three miles of dedicated travel lanes. Half of the final design and construction costs come from the federal TIGER grant ($24.9 million). The other half come in the form of a 50% match funded by both state and local sources. The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) will provide 34% ($16.9 million) with the remaining 16% provided by the City of Richmond ($7.6 million) and Henrico County ($400,000). Operation of the service is estimated to cost $2.7 million per year. Some of the operating cost would be covered by fares and the remainder to be provided annually from yet to be determined local funding sources.
In August 2016, construction began on the BRT line with a goal to complete the service by October 2017.
On Sunday, June 24, 2018, the Pulse line opened. Several notable figures were at the opening ceremony of the rapid transit line including the Mayor of Richmond, Virginia, Levar Stoney; the Chairperson of the Henrico County Board of Supervisors, Frank Thorton; and the Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam. Stoney stated that the $65 million dollar project will generate $1 billion in economic activity over the next 20 years, resulting in a $15 return on investment for every dollar invested.
The Pulse runs along U.S. Route 250 (Broad Street) before shifting south to Main Street downtown via 14th Street. The initial Pulse line links suburban Willow Lawn to Rocketts Landing, both in suburban Henrico, with at least a dozen stations within the city limits of Richmond. During the morning peak, midday, and evening peak on weekdays, buses come to each station every 10 minutes, with off-peak evening and weekend service every 15 minutes and late night service every 30 minutes.
Throughout the course of the project, several station locations have changed, and names of the stations have changed. As of January 17, 2018 this is the current list of stations planned to open along the route.
This section needs to be updated.June 2018)(
The official schedule has yet to be finalized by GRTC, but it has been confirmed that Pulse buses will run every 10 minutes during peak hours, and 15 minutes during non-peak hours, which is far more frequent than regular GRTC buses that run every 30-60 minutes.
GRTC Pulse stations will connect to numerous GRTC bus routes, as well as to the Richmond Main Street Station, which will allow for direct access to Amtrak Northeast Regional train service, and Megabus regional bus service. The Robinson station will offer walking distance to the Richmond Greyhound bus terminal. Additionally, the Staples Mill station will have connecting bus shuttle service to the Henrico County Government Center and the Richmond Staples Mill Road railway station, which will allow for direct access to Amtrak's Carolinian, Northeast Regional, Palmetto, Silver Meteor and Silver Star train lines.