GRTC Pulse launches in June; free rides first week

GRTC Pulse launches in June; free rides first week
GRTC Pulse station under construction (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Several years and millions of dollars in the making, we are weeks away from the future of Richmond's public transportation.

GRTC Pulse launches June 24 and will impact everyone - whether you bike, drive, or ride.

It's come with plenty of well-documented controversy along the way - from local businesses to what it means for all of us, whether we ride the bus or not.

For those driving down Broad Street...yes, Broad Street is wonky, but we have to deal with it. It's done. The "bus only" lanes in the center of Broad are just that: bus only. You will see these lanes in Scott's Addition and through VCU heading into Downtown, and they come with their own special, futuristic traffic signals – don't pay them any mind, they're only for bus drivers. Keep using the stop lights you know and love.

Downtown, you'll see bus lanes in the right-hand lane of traffic. Those lanes are to share  No bus? Bikers, have at it! Drivers who are turning right? This is your turn lane. Do not cut in front of a bus to make a right-hand turn, wait your turn and make your turn!

Now you might be thinking, "but don't we turn left in front of buses back in Scott's Addition?"  Well, no. Those signals are coordinated, so the bus will be stopped when you're green arrow is lit. You do turn across those lanes.

Here's how to ride the bus. Gone are the days of buying tickets from the driver when you get on. Hello, kiosk of the future! Cash, coin, or card - you must pay your fare before getting on the bus. This is crucial to the bus rapid transit being all ... rapid.

A security guard of sorts will ride the Pulse line to make sure you've paid. While you're waiting, stand behind the yellow stripe - the texture is for visual-impaired riders. Totems will tell you which direction the bus is heading and when it'll get here.  When the top light is lit, your bus is here!

There are a lot of changes and it's going to take a little while.

Here is a breakdown of the changes drivers need to be aware of:

BUS-ONLY LANES

Some lanes will have pavement markings and traffic signals clearly noting bus-only lanes. You will see these lanes in the middle of Broad Street, between Thompson and Foushee streets.

NEW TRAFFIC SIGNALS

These signals are for bus drivers only. They will coordinate with the traffic signals for drivers, so the bus will not go through when you have the green left turn signal. Look for these dedicated left turn lanes if you need to turn left across Broad Street.

CURBSIDE BUS-ONLY LANES

The Pulse operates in curbside bus-only lanes Downtown on Broad Street between 4th and 14th Streets. You can use these lanes to turn right onto a side street - just remember to not cut in front of any Pulse buses. Wait for them to pass, then merge into the lane behind the bus and make your turn (watch for pedestrians with the right-of-way crossing the street).

PULSE BUS MERGING TO/FROM MEDIAN LANES GO FIRST

If a bus needs to get into or out of a median bus-only lane, they will get a "GO" signal while your lane remains red. Wait for your light to turn green before going.

Passengers and pedestrians also have some changes they should know:

NEW ADA PEDESTRIAN CROSSINGS

There are new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) crossings North-South across Broad St.

MEDIAN STATION ACCESS

If you get caught in the median of the ADA crossing between traffic signals, there is a push-button to request crossing access.

NEW BIKE PARKING AND SAFETY

There is bike parking at all Pulse stations areas, as well as on the front of all Pulse vehicles. Do not use your bike in bus-only lanes, except Downtown between 4th and 14th streets.

PAYMENT

There is a new method for paying to ride - you MUST pay your fare before getting on the bus. Passes will be issued from ticket vending machines, and you can pay using cash, coin, credit and major debit cards (when used as credit). You will find these vending machines at Pulse stations.

Pulse launches Sunday, June 24. City Council has approved free rides for everyone, the entire first week.

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