What is the Pulse?
GRTC Pulse (Bus Rapid Transit - BRT) is a modern, high quality, high capacity rapid transit system that offers many of the advantages of rail transit but at a lower and more affordable cost. Instead of trains/trolleys and tracks, the Pulse will invest in improvements to vehicles, stations, operations, roadways, rights‐of‐way, intersections and traffic signals to speed up bus transit service. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems are not uniform with turn‐key transit technology, but represent a spectrum of service enhancements, which vary from region to region. BRT systems are constructed by choosing and integrating various BRT elements, such as dedicated lanes, signal priority for buses, branded vehicles and enhanced station amenities. The integration of these elements improves system performance and the experience for customers, with the overall goal of making the Pulse service accessible, attractive, reliable and, above all, rapid.
What is the big picture, long term vision?
The Pulse is a new concept in the Richmond region and has required careful consideration and prudent planning. The Pulse, which runs 7.6 miles, is the first step to improved and expanded regional transit. In Fall 2015, the Greater RVA Transit Vision Plan kicked off and is examining transit options for the Greater Richmond Region. This Plan is expected to be finalized in 2017. Also underway is The Richmond Transit Network Plan, currently examining transit service within the City of Richmond and, based on public feedback, will provide recommendations for the near future. This Plan is expected to be finalized in 2017. The Pulse project is meant to serve as a starting point for regional improvements to the transit system, which can expand in future years to serve other major activity centers in the region. Regional transit advocacy groups are continuing the big picture conversation across jurisdictions.
Where are we now in the GRTC Pulse project?
Final Design and construction are being performed by the Design-Build Team, as managed by VDOT. Construction will last in phases until Fall 2017. Between August 2017 and October 2017, BRT operations will be tested and accepted. BRT passenger operations are expected to begin in October 2017, weather- and progress-dependent.
What role does VDOT play in the project?
VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) is the Project Administrator of the Pulse project. They are administering the project on behalf of GRTC and the Project Partners (Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, City of Richmond and County of Henrico). VDOT performed Semi-Final Design from August 2015 to October 2015. VDOT is also managing the Design-Build construction process which includes developing and awarding contracts while ensuring the process is efficient. VDOT contributes award-winning construction management expertise with both cost-control and risk-mitigation.
What is Design-Build?
Design-Build (DB) is a type of project design and construction process in which a team of contractors (designers and builders) takes the existing design (in this project, the Semi-Final Design) and continues to design a project while simultaneously starting construction on the portion of the project that has been designed to 100%. This process reduces risk when dealing with utility relocation and work in the right-of-way.
What is the construction schedule?
The Project team expects major construction work will progress within the following approximate timeframes. Please note, this is the anticipated timeline and it is subject to change.
For more details about these "Station Groups," explore this presentation (PDF) from January 2017 Public Information Meetings!
How will BRT construction affect local businesses?
The Pulse will be constructed entirely within existing right of way and therefore does not anticipate any acquisition of property. LANE Construction and their subcontractors are working closely with businesses to both preserve and encourage access to businesses. This will include relevant signage guiding customers (pedestrian or in vehicles) to the businesses. While Pulse construction is expected to produce some noise and marginal traffic delays, the impacts are not expected to substantially inhibit the local economy. Regardless, the City of Richmond is pursuing opportunities to stimulate business along the route during construction. City residents, businesses and patrons can visit PulseRVA.com to learn more about how to access destinations. Once construction is complete, the Pulse can help continue the current renaissance happening now, as well as stimulate additional investment, along the corridor.
GRTC is committed to informing the public of potential construction impacts, including to parking. Businesses will receive two weeks notification of the upcoming work which will include information such as when construction will occur, where construction will occur and what kind of construction will occur. 48 hours prior to the start of that construction, businesses will receive specific details. Construction updates will be available on local news outlets (TV, radio and web), at ridegrtc.com/brt, the Pulse blog, weekly Pulse updates via e-blast, social media and the Pulse hotline (804-980-0084). In-person meetings will also occur at the request of organizations, businesses, neighborhoods and community centers in the greater Richmond area.
Once the Pulse is in operation, what parking options will be there?
The easiest way to find parking choices is to visit PulseRVA.com. Between Thompson Street and 4th Street, approximately 401 parking spaces on Broad Street will be available, in addition to surrounding off-Broad surface and deck choices. All on-street parking will be prohibited 24/7 between 4th Street and 14th Street to accommodate curb-running exclusive bus only lanes. Parking in the eastern portion of the corridor will only be prohibited at the Main Street Station, 24th Street, and Rocketts Landing platform locations. Currently there is no on-street Broad parking west of 195, therefore no change is anticipated.
There are approximately 1,015 existing on-street parking spaces on the side streets within one block (Grace and Marshall Streets) of Broad Street between Thompson Street and 14th Street. In the same section, there are more than 8,000 off-street parking spaces within one block of Broad Street. Of these spaces, 6,461 comprise short-term and long-term public and private off-street parking facilities. Implementation of the Pulse will neither change nor affect these off street parking spaces.
How will the Pulse affect general traffic?
The GRTC Pulse corridor is designed to minimize the traffic impacts to the corridor.
In the east and west ends (blue and red on the map), the bus will travel in general traffic lanes with other motor vehicles, as is the case today. Buses generally stay in the farthest right travel lane. This operation is referred to as mixed flow or mixed traffic operations.
Between Thompson Street and Foushee Street (green on the map), the buses will travel in dedicated lanes in the median. Running the bus in the center of the roadway helps minimize conflicts (i.e., reduces crash rates) with vehicles turning to/from side streets and private entrances, in addition to allowing parallel parking in this dense part of Broad Street. Dedicated lanes are also viewed as a traffic calming tool, allowing vehicles to adhere to the speed limit. Construction of these median bus lanes will reduce the number of general travel lanes from three to two in each direction.
In the downtown section of the corridor, from 4th Street to 14th Street (orange on the map), the Pulse and local buses will operate in a dedicated lane along the curb. This improved bus lane will function like a shoulder-running bus lane and will reduce conflicts between buses, general traffic and pedestrians, increasing safety for all users.
Left turns are restricted at a number of intersections along Broad Street to manage traffic flow and delays. Left‐turn restrictions will continue and additional restrictions will be enforced. At appropriate median-running intersections detailed on the map below, general traffic will be allowed to enter the dedicated left turn lanes to turn, which will increase safety by removing turning vehicles from the general traffic flow. Those selected dedicated left-turns are as follows:
Lastly, in the long‐term, the Pulse will help manage traffic congestion by providing a high‐quality, transit service that is competitive with motor vehicles, thereby capturing a higher proportion of commuters and other travelers. This will allow the corridor to incorporate higher densities, provide more housing and jobs, in
addition to more activity that will allow the corridor to transition to a more pedestrian‐friendly corridor, while maintaining acceptable traffic conditions.
What are the some of the expected benefits of the GRTC BRT?
• Expand the range of job opportunities for transit‐ dependent populations by increasing the areas accessible within a reasonable commute time.
• Provide a permanent transit investment in the Broad Street corridor that will encourage economic development and stimulate property values.
• Leverage opportunities for mixed‐use, transit‐oriented development that will revitalize an economically distressed corridor and improve jobs‐housing balance.
• Create additional opportunities to increase system‐wide efficiency for GRTC and further improve service on local bus routes.
• Attract new riders by providing a service with travel times that are competitive with motor vehicles or passenger vehicles.
• Increase bus speeds by approximately 65%.
• Improve pedestrian safety at station areas with improved crosswalks and pedestrian refuge areas at station platforms. Also add new pedestrian crosswalks in the corridor.
• Improve the reliability of transit operations on Broad Street by providing a dedicated lane for BRT vehicles from Thompson Street to Foushee Street and by improving the dedicated bus lane between 4th Street and 14th Street.
• Reduce travel time for riders on BRT by approximately 33%.
What is the Estimated Project Budget?
• Based on the Design-Build contract, the following is the project budget. This includes a project contingency of 5%.
For more Frequently Asked Questions, please visit our website: http://www.ridegrtc.com/brt/frequently-asked-questions/
Download FAQ's (PDF) - Updated December 2, 2016
For more information about GRTC Pulse (Bus Rapid Transit) Where We Are Now and BRT Milestones please select below: