First responders train for GRTC Pulse rollout

First responders train for GRTC Pulse rollout
First responders train for GRTC Pulse crash (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you happened to be near Scott's Addition in Richmond late Thursday night, you probably noticed heavy activity from first responders - but this was not an emergency. Instead, police and firefighters were training on how to keep you safe once Richmond rolls out traffic changes for the GRTC Pulse system.

Per the contract with GRTC, construction crews only have three more months to finish the project. Now first responders are getting an inside look at the layout so they'll know how to keep you safe.

It looked like a disastrous crash scene, right in the middle of the roadway. Fortunately, it was only a test.

First responders gathered on Broad Street near the Science Museum at the site of one of the bus system's new Pulse stations.

"We can let our local responders really get onto the route, onto the station platforms and practice," said Carrie Rose Pace with GRTC.

This is the scenario: a driver crosses traffic going in the wrong direction - eventually landing in a new bus-only lane, striking the new rapid transit bus.

It could be a likely scenario, because the Pulse system will bring new traffic patterns.

"We now have structures, bus stations that are in the middle of the street," said Pace. "Once you cross over I-195, the Pulse vehicles get their own dedicated lanes in the middle of the street."

The training comes as 10 new, high-tech Pulse buses could hit the streets over the next several months - offering rapid transit service from Willow Lawn in Henrico all the way to Rockett's Landing in Richmond.

The years-long project has led to frustrations over traffic, road construction, and businesses citing losses because of it.

GRTC is convinced this is a service that will make travel more convenient.

"Get the most speed and efficiency so that it takes less time riding transit to get from Point A to Point B," said Pace.

Because changes can lead to confusion, safety crews are getting to work early.

"So that we all can get a good feel of what this would look and feel like if this were to happen in real world," said Pace.

The new bus line will cover seven miles of travel, unlike anything Richmond has now. You won't pay on the bus - instead, riders will pre-purchase tickets from machines similar to the pay-for-parking machines you see downtown.

A launch date is coming soon.

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