GRTC partnership brings free rides to university students and employees

Photo by Jon Mirador.
Photo by Jon Mirador.

VCU and the Greater Richmond Transit System have partnered to allow rides on most bus routes in Richmond at no cost for both MCV and Monroe Park students and employees.

The agreement allows for unlimited rides on the GRTC Pulse Bus Rapid Transit and regular fixed-route local and express bus services. This announcement also came with the news that the Campus Connector bus line will be transitioned into an express service between the campuses starting in the spring 2019 semester.

“This partnership with GRTC provides the entire VCU community with greater access and alternative means to explore and connect to more areas of Richmond,” said VCU President Michael Rao.

The current agreement will last until July 31, 2019. The first year of this partnership will act as a pilot to a potentially longer agreement, with VCU paying $1.2 million into the program for this year alone.

Gary Armstrong, a member of the GRTC Board of Directors, says this new agreement could allow for the transit company to explore and fix problems with their local services.

“We recognize how important it is to collaborate with riders and the city on improvements to the new network while remaining budget-conscious,” Armstrong said. “This kind of partnership allows GRTC to evaluate service enhancements that were not possible without VCU’s investment.”

The Pulse line — which travels along Broad and Main Streets between Rocketts Landing and Willow Lawn — and Route 5, which runs along Cary and Main Streets, could be particularly useful for VCU students and employees due to their proximity to both campuses.

While some praise this new decision, others like sophomore Jesscina Tower fear that VCU will later decide to alter the Campus Connector route.

“I don’t like it,” Tower said. “I’m going to be living in Cary and Belvidere, and taking away that stop [next to Snead Hall] could really mess up my commute to class.”

Reuban Rodriguez, VCU Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Student Affairs, assured that the plan with GRTC will not alter existing bus routes, but enrich them by providing multiple options.

“The university will assess whether or not the students are utilizing the Pulse and assess how that can affect Campus Connector stops [in the future],” Rodriguez said.

In its latest update, the VCU Mobile app added a “GRTC” button to its home menu, which directs the user to download the GRTC mobile app, where they can view routes, arrival times and alerts about stop closures or delays.

Logan Reardon, Contributing Writer

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