This story ran as part of a VCU Student Media Center summer special publication, The Compass, which serves as a guidebook for new students.
Georgia Geen, Executive Editor
You’ve read about some of the restaurants, book shops and attractions Richmond has to offer. For those too far from VCU to walk to without experiencing severe chafing and foot cramps, one problem remains: how to get there.
VCU doesn’t allow first-year residential students to have cars on-campus, so as to create a more “pedestrian-friendly” environment and help integrate students into the university’s culture. As a result, it’s easy for freshmen to fall into a routine of staying within the university’s bubble.
Here are explanations and advice for three affordable ways to get around the city without relying on pricey Uber and Lyft rides. Keep in mind, a combination of the three might be the best way to get to your destination.
GRTC’s Pulse route, which spans from Rockett’s Landing in the east to the West End’s Willow Lawn, can bring riders to countless parts of the city — including between the MCV and Monroe Park campuses and to shopping centers. The closest stop to the Monroe Park campus is located near the intersection of Broad and Shafer streets. Just make sure to note whether you need to get on a west- or east-bound bus, or you could end up having to take a few extra rides.
But the Pulse, though shiny and new, isn’t GRTC’s only route. Buses go all throughout the city, and there’s even a seasonal route to King’s Dominion, which charges $5 for guests and $3 for King’s Dominion employees, payable in exact change on the bus.
Users can enter their destination into Google Maps and select the public transit option to learn which GRTC route(s) will get them there. This won’t show anticipated arrival times at each stop — for that information, download GRTC’s app, available for iPhone and Android.
RVA Bike Share
Pedaling might be more physically demanding than sitting in a bus with air-conditioning, but using Richmond’s bike share system allows travelers to get around on their own schedule.
Its 16 stops are more geographically condensed than GRTC’s bus stops, but users can take advantage of stops near Hollywood Cemetery, Movieland at Boulevard Square and the Edgar Allan Poe Museum. On a practical note, its stop near the Lombardy Street Kroger makes light shopping trips easier.
Individual Go Passes can be purchased at the station kiosks and cost $1.75 for the first 45 minutes of a ride, while longer rides cost $3 per half-hour. Monthly and annual passes are $18 and $96, respectively, and holders just have to hold their pass up to the handlebars of the bike they wish to unlock or use the mobile app. Once a ride is completed, return the bike to the nearest Ride Share stop, which serve as charging stations.
As referenced in this publication’s VCU Dictionary of Terms, RamRide offers the Connector Express and RamSafe to help students and staff get around the university’s campuses and surrounding areas. Though the destinations are limited, the services — especially the campus connector — can be used to get closer to downtown attractions. Plus, they’re free. Just make sure to have your VCU ID ready.
Download the Rider app and add “Virginia Commonwealth University” to your transit systems to view stops and arrival times for the Campus Connector. The RamSafe app allows users to request rides to VCU buildings and surrounding residential areas from a predetermined list of addresses.
On select dates during, prior to and after Thanksgiving, winter, spring and summer breaks, RamAway offers a shuttle service to the Richmond International Airport, Greyhound bus station and Amtrak stations on Staples Mill Road and Main Street. Select dates and times haven’t been established for the fall 2019 semester, though students can make reservations at parking.vcu.edu/transportation/ramaway.