Want to improve Richmond’s transit system? Read on for a specific suggestion on how you can influence GRTC.

I recently posted about the prospect of public involvement in reshaping Richmond’s public transit system. Several folks chimed in with helpful comments about desperately needed changes. Please add your voice to that conversation.

One commenter issued a call to action, which bears reprinting here where it will receive more attention:

Hey, just wanted to stop in and say thanks for covering this and other transportation related issues! My name is Galen Pierce-Gardner and I’m the Deputy Director for External Affairs under the executive branch of VCU’s Student Government Association. We’re currently raising support for Pantele’s Circulator to be completely and functionally implemented with full service from Church Hill or Shockoe Bottom to Carytown. The study currently being undertaken which you mention above is a Comprehensive Operations Analysis(COA) and is a system wide overview of routing and service. It’s the first one in five years with implementation of approved changes scheduled to begin as early as December. As you stated in an early post, councilman Pantele is still very much behind the full service Circulator. It’s time Richmond had functional mass transit!I’d like to ask all of you to take a few minutes to email GRTC in support of this plan.

jlewis@ridegrtc.com (due to a high volume of mail from students on this issue, some emails to this address have recently been bouncing back, alternate internal GRTC addresses below)

A circulator is a bus that runs very frequently in a circle around downtown, providing tourists, office workers, and residents a quick and easy way to get around downtown sans car.

In Richmond a proposal has been floated for a circulator to run through downtown from Carytown to Church Hill- so frequently you don’t need a schedule to use it. The benefits would be many: Downtown business folks could nip out to Shockoe or Carytown for lunch. VCU students and west of the Boulevard residents could get to clubs in the bottom without drinking and driving or taking up parking. Church Hill residents could shop in Carytown without fighting traffic and looking for a parking spot.

Some of our city politicians, however, have been hacking away at the proposal reducing its route and frequency which, in my opinion, threatens its viability. As I wrote in an earlier post about the ciruclator:

(some) politicians want to phase things in, spend as little as possible until they’re guaranteed financial success. The public, however, will only use public transit when it’s convenient and comfortable- which costs a lot of money upfront to achieve.

You can’t run a bus once an hour and see if it’s popular before increasing service. People won’t ride the bus precisely because it only runs once an hour. And people won’t ride a bus with an imperfect route- they’ll only ride the bus when it stops near their origin and destination without too much meandering in the middle. And achieving those goals costs money.

So Pierce-Gardner’s call for a “full service” circulator to be “completely and functionally implemented” is right on target.

Perhaps, given the political realities of transit funding, writing your councilperson would be advisable as well. Addresses listed below by district number:

  1. Bruce.Tyler@Richmondgov.com
  2. Bill.Pantele@Richmondgov.com
  3. Chris.Hilbert@Richmondgov.com
  4. Kathy.Graziano@Richmondgov.com
  5. Marty.Jewell@Richmondgov.com
  6. Ellen.Robertson@Richmondgov.com
  7. Delores.McQuinn@Richmondgov.com
  8. Reva.Trammell@Richmondgov.com
  9. Doug.Conner@Richmondgov.com

Not sure of your district? Check this unhelpful map and use the clunky “Find your District” link.