City council approves controversial bus system

Photo by: Andrew Crider
Photo by: Andrew Crider
Photo by: Andrew Crider

Andrew Crider, Staff Writer

City Council approved the construction of a controversial $53 million bus system last week.

Richmond City Council approved the GRTC Pulse system in a 7-1-1 vote. The project will remove parking along Broad street to create 3.5 miles of bus-only lanes as part of a 7.5 mile system stretching from Willow Lawn to Rockett’s Landing beginning October 2017.

According to the GRTC website, the Pulse project would improve local and regional mobility while minimizing travel times and accident rates. Construction of the 14 station system will begin in April.

Since then, Gov. Terry McAuliffe played a crucial role in securing a $25 million federal grant, which helped build momentum to approve the project. The state government is also providing $17 million for the rapid transit system, which leaves the city to pay the remaining $7.6 million.

“If (City Council doesn’t) want it, that is their decision, but we’re not going to wait forever and I will give the money back to the federal government,” McAuliffe said in a statement to the Richmond Times-Dispatch in early February after some council members wanted to delay the decision another year.

Councilman Parker Agelasto (D-5th district) cautioned against the city taking on too big of a burden for the system.

“I think that’s a great aspiration, but the city can’t drive that bus alone,” Agelasto said.

According to the councilman’s liaison, Ida Jones, the council had taken so long to vote on the Pulse because of the number of members of the public who came to speak on the proposal.

McAuliffe is joined by Mayor Dwight Jones in support of the project, which he believes could be an economic asset for the city.

Photo by: Andrew Crider
Photo by: Andrew Crider

“The Pulse will be a stimulus for job growth, creating nearly 400 jobs within the city of Richmond and stimulating nearly $35 million in economic impact,” Jones said in a statement on last week.

The Mayor said that the system would also help local business, although some local business owners disagree. Among them are Kathy Pritz, co-owner of the Richmond Book Shop on Broad street.

Printz said that all of the businesses owners around her, with the exception of Alchemy Coffee shop, disapproved of the bus system because of the elimination of parking spaces to make room for the bus lanes.

“It would hurt if people can’t pull up, if I can’t pull up to unload my car, if people can’t pull up to sell me books and a lot of the time they are older people and they’re not going to be carrying those books for 3 blocks,” Pritz said. “They have said there was going to be a lot of off street parking but that’s already filled up with a lot of people.”

Steve Rogge, a manager of Asado Wing and Taco company at Laurel and Broad agreed that the lack of parking will hurt his business too.

“It would certainly take out a lot of the parking we have for our customers, because we don’t have a parking lot ourselves,” Rogge said. “It would be a deterrent I would feel for customers.”

Rogge said he doubted many of his customers would use the rapid transit system.

Derrisk Buskey, the manager of Monument shoe store on Broad, also said that bus system would hurt his business.

“It’s bad due to the fact our storefront is on Broad street, and in Richmond everyone knows it’s hard to find a parking spot,” Buskey said.

A door down from Monument, Velocity Comics displays a poster on their door protesting the bus route.

Staff Writer, Andrew Crider

Andrew Crider, photo by Brooke MarshAndrew is a junior economics major who has written for student newspapers since he was in high school. Andrew is interested in political history, aviation, photography and running. He has a tendency to refer to his peers, coworkers and bosses as “ma’am” or “sir,” but is getting better about referring to his friends at the CT by their first names instead. // Facebook

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