A new GRTC bus line on Jefferson Davis Highway from Chippenham Parkway to John Tyler Community College is expected to help get workers and customers to the area’s businesses when buses start rolling today (Monday).
The 7.6-mile route features 24 stops on a stretch of Jefferson Davis Highway dense with retail, restaurants and other businesses.
Dubbed Bus Route 111, the route costs $2.5 million to set up and operate for a two-year test drive, said Carrie Rose Pace, GRTC spokeswoman.
The Chesterfield Board of Supervisors voted to direct staff to sign a service agreement with GRTC March 11. The board also approved metrics to gauge the route’s performance. The average weekday ridership goal is 140 passengers per day.
A survey was conducted to gauge interest in a public transportation option on Jefferson Davis Highway early last year. About 1,200 people, most of them Chesterfield County residents, completed the survey. Of that, 690 respondents live around the Jefferson Davis Highway corridor. A handful of business owners and managers also participated and supported public transportation in the area.
Survey respondents expressed a desire for public transportation to get to and from jobs, as well as enabling them to shop in the area, suggesting the line’s riders primarily will be workers and shoppers moving about in that area of Chesterfield County, Pace said.
About one-third of respondents said they were likely to use a public transit option. Among likely public transit users, 57% of respondents would use the service for economic reasons, either to get to work (30%) or to go shop (27%).
Twenty-six business owners and managers who have businesses on Jefferson Davis Highway also participated in the survey, though SIR, which conducted the survey, cautioned the small sample size meant the data wasn’t statistically projectable and therefore suitable only as guidance. That being said, more than half of those respondents were unsatisfied with public transportation in the area. About 20% of business respondents felt public transportation is key to their success. The businesses employ about 1,200 people.
The line extends the GRTC’s service area from the Food Lion north of Chippenham Parkway (located at 5702 Jefferson Davis Highway) down to the campus of John Tyler in Chester south of Route 10. There’s a park-n-ride lot at John Tyler near the college’s bus stop, allowing riders to securely park their cars and then board a bus.
The route’s cost is covered with money sourced from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation’s two-year demonstration program (80% of the total) and Chesterfield County (20%), Pace said.
The county is applying for additional state funds to offset the local service cost for five years after the demonstration period wraps up.
The route will operate every 30 minutes Monday through Saturday. A one-way fare is $1.50.
Chesterfield County and Richmond jointly own GRTC, which offers public transportation service in the Greater Richmond region. GRTC has an operational budget of $53.9 million and over 9.3 million people use the service every year.
The new Chesterfield route comes amid other recent service expansions by GRTC. In September 2018, GRTC extended its Short Pump route amid other improvements in Henrico County. Three months earlier, GRTC launched its Pulse rapid transit system in Richmond.