GRTC plans bus route merge to cut costs

By Jola Szubielski - bio | email

Posted by Colby Rogers

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - In an effort to cut back cost-saving measure, GRTC and Richmond city officials are considering a plan that would scale back two popular bus routes, but avoid eliminating them altogether.

The Richmond transportation company had originally planned to eliminate the No. 16 Westhampton route that services the area near the University of Richmond. After fielding complaints from riders on that route - many of them university students and faculty - GRTC reconsidered.

The new proposal is to scale back service by merging the No. 16 route and the No. 13 Main Street/Church Hill routes, which will now travel from downtown west to Carytown. The transportation company says there should be no major delays in the changeover from the express bus to the local service.

In addition, an express service will allow riders on the new combined routes to transfer easily.

GRTC Marketing and Public Relations Director Kath Shaw Clary said the new route will be a compromise that offers a little for everyone.

Clary says the combination of the two routes coupled with the elimination of others - such as the No. 67 along Brook Road - are needed to address GRTC's $4 million projected deficit in 2010. Even so, she stressed, that GRTC may have to raise bus fares in the future.

"We have to cut everything to the bone. We've done everything we can," Clary said. "We're hoping to get through this even with a budget deficit and not have to be able to cut more service. But we may have to look at fare increases."

For the time being, Route 13/16 rides on City Council approval and an agreement with the University of Richmond to provide a park and ride lot for commuters. GRTC says it hopes that implementing these changes will hold off fare increases as a last resort.

If approved, the routes could be merged as early as July.

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