GRTC rolls out free service, similar to ride-share apps

Next time you need a ride, simply pull up your “GRTC on the go” app and request a pick-up. The service is available only in certain zones right now.
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 6:37 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Your next bus stop could be your couch, as the Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) rolls out a new service similar to Uber or Lyft, picking you up at home or wherever you may be, and dropping you off where you need to go.

The “LINK Microtransit” service is free to riders, too. The only catch is it only works in certain zones now, but that will change soon.

Next time you need a ride, simply pull up your “GRTC on the go” app or call 804-358-4782 and request a pick-up. Then, within 20 minutes, a van will show up to you.

“It’ll take you exactly where you need to go. You just got to walk from your couch to the door, step on, put your seatbelt on and head out,” GRTC Spokesperson Henry Bendon said.

Riders can get picked up at their house, apartment, office or wherever they need a ride. Right now, the service runs through parts of Henrico, Richmond and Hanover. It reaches around GRTC’s Azalea zone, which hits parts of Richmond’s northside neighborhood to Mechanicsville. People can get dropped off wherever they need within the zone.

“It’s connections to two of our high-frequency routes, the ones and twos. And it’s reimagining kind of what it looks like to board public transit here in areas where density might not support fixed route service, kind of in and around,” Bendon said.

Running in a specific zone helps riders get picked up within that 20-minute timeframe. There are four total LINK vans, with usually only two on the road at a time, but there should be one available to people requesting a ride when they want it. The service is fare-free, like GRTC’s other buses.

“We now have this on-demand ability, technically, and we have this kind of mandate as a transportation provider to come find our riders, wherever they are,” Bendon said. “There are lots of places where traditional fixed route service may or may not make sense, but public transportation is (an) opportunity for everybody. So, what we’re doing with this is finding the solution for mobility with modern 21st century planning.”

Service on the vans runs Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Each van can hold up to 10 passengers, and there is also room for two wheelchair-accessible spots.

Sometimes there may be other riders on your route, like any other public transportation service, but the drop-offs will be quick because they will be within the same zone.

The service will expand soon to other parts of central Virginia, including North Chesterfield, Ashland, Powhatan and New Kent.