GRTC pilot program looks to extend Chesterfield routes

Route 1A extension plan expected to be ready fall 2023
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 8:35 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - GRTC is in the early phases of launching a new pilot program that would extend its 1A bus route for about 5 miles down Midlothian Turnpike towards Chesterfield County’s east end.

The idea is to expand the bus route, which currently stops at the Kroger at the Stonebridge shopping center so that it goes as far as the Walmart off Walmart way in Chesterfield, but GRTC says it will have to wait a while for that pilot program to begin.

“The service will begin in the Fall of 2023,” Sam Sink said.

Sink is the GRTC’s Director of Planning at GRTC and says the transit company is experimenting in the western part of Chesterfield -- because of its access to housing, shopping, jobs and health care.

“I think we’re interested in seeing where that demand is for our suburban locations. Midlothian Turnpike is a very well-developed arterial in the region, and we want to see how many people really want to use transit out here, so that’s why we have this one-year pilot program set up,” Sink said.

Route 1A GRTC Bus Map
Route 1A GRTC Bus Map(GRTC)

The pilot program will cost GRTC about $2.35 million to implement.

During the program, the company will collect data on ridership, and the destinations people frequent most to determine if the extension would be a good permanent move. But GRTC will also need more drivers before that program is launched.

“We are very aggressively trying to hire more operators,” Sink said. “We’re looking to bring back our core service before we add on our new service. We’ve got about a year before this pilot starts, so we hope to be back up to full operating strength by then.”

The company is also looking to make waiting for buses more comfortable. It’s currently seeking funding to triple the number of bus shelters for riders.

“Today, there is only a bench at about 25 to 26 percent of our stops,” Sink said. “Earlier this month, our board approved a new essential transit infrastructure plan, and what that does is it sets a goal for us to install a bench or a shelter at about 75 percent of our stops.”

Sink says the company is actively seeking grant funds to make the additional seating, shelters and trash can areas to make improvements possible.