GRTC unveils plans for bus rapid transit stations

GRTC officials on Monday night unveiled concept plans for the stations that will dot the region’s forthcoming bus rapid transit line.

The plan got a boost in September when the project won a $25 million federal grant.

The concept is to use buses with dedicated lanes and stations and fewer stops to mimic the service potential of light rail. The proposed line would run from Rocketts Landing to Willow Lawn, largely along Broad Street.

In some areas the buses would travel through traffic, while in other areas they would have dedicated lanes in the center or at the edge of the road.

The stations themselves will offer raised platforms so riders can step directly on and off the buses, without going up or down. Passengers will buy tickets from machines at the stations, which will also have real-time information on the locations and arrival times of buses.

The concepts for the station designs were developed by the governments and agencies behind the proposal, as well as major companies located along the line’s route and others during an intensive period of design, said Stephen McNally, project administrator and construction manager at GRTC.

The more than 30 participants were divided into two teams, who then worked to design concepts for the stations at which riders will embark and disembark. The designs focus heavily on recalling the station’s context in Richmond, using black metal beams, brick and wood, McNally said.

“We also want each one to have a sense of permanency and a sense of place,” McNally said.

Some of the stops will be on the side of the road, while others will be located in the center of the road, in areas where the buses will run in a protected center lane.

The bus station concepts were on display during an update meeting Monday evening at Main Street Station in downtown Richmond, which also provided previously released information about the line’s route, stop locations, and the timeline for implementation. Officials hope to have the line operational by October 2017.

But for many participants, the excitement focused on the system as a whole, rather than the station concepts.

“As long as there’s a stop,” said Emily Hurst, who is hoping the system will speed up her commute across Richmond. “I’m not an architect, so that’s not my focus, really. I’m more concerned about the transportation. I’m sure it’ll look lovely however they get it done.”

David Bass of Richmond said the presentation allayed fears he’d had that the concept for the line would shrink as it neared time to actually break ground.

“I think everything seems on track to really do a first-rate rapid transit system,” Bass said.

Mike and Raylene Harton of Midlothian hope the concept will be so successful that it will be expanded. The two think the service could be crucial to allowing them to age in place once they’re too old to drive.

“I’d like to live long enough to see BRT developed on all the major corridors,” Mike Harton said.

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