Richmond public transit gets low marks

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you think taking public transportation can be a pain, you're not alone. A new national survey ranked Richmond near the bottom of major transit systems.

This study was done by the Brookings Institute and looked at 100 cities across the country. Richmond came in at 92 out of 100.

If you head downtown, you're likely to drive by dozens of GRTC buses buzzing along Broad Street. Billie Pruitt just moved to Richmond and she says she enjoys her weekly bus ride.

"I kind of like it," she said. "It's a lot cheaper than driving a car. It's a quick way around."

But a new survey is not giving Richmond's public transit high praise. The river city was ranked 92nd out of 100 for public transit because of long waits, few bus stops and the low number of jobs accessible using public transportation.

The survey says only about a third of people living in metro Richmond live near a bus stop - that's about half as many as the average city in the survey.

Rachel Harris takes the bus every day. She says she would have ranked Richmond higher.

"It's more convenient," she said. "It's less on gas, it's a lot cheaper on gas, so yeah I'm surprised it came in so low."

But she acknowledges, the number of evening buses is limited and missing one bus can make for a long wait.

"It is very time consuming as in riding in the car," Harris said. "You have all that stop and go with everybody catching the bus and it comes at a certain time and everything."

The survey says Richmonders wait thirteen minutes during rush hour for a bus - that's three minutes longer than the average. Some bus riders say patience is a virtue when riding public transportation.

"The bus is going to come when it comes," said Rodney Johnson.  "Just have a little patience man. Be blessed that you got a ride."

Critics of the survey say it's simply a matter of supply and demand. Transportation experts say Richmond has good highways, little congestion and many Richmonders own cars, making the need for public transit smaller.

GRTC has received some distinction in recent years.  In 2008 it was named the #1 transit system in North America.

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