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GRTC suspending all on-board fare collection and enforcement during COVID-19 emergency

Affected service includes all Pulse, local, and express commuter bus routes and all CARE services, except CARE On-Demand.

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GRTC is suspending all on-board fare collection and enforcement during the COVID-19 emergency effective March 19, 2020. Affected service includes all Pulse, local, and express commuter bus routes and all CARE services, except CARE On-Demand.

Bus passengers are instructed to enter and exit through the rear doors only and sit behind the accessibility-reserved seating area. Front-door access will be permitted only for passengers needing the boarding ramp or operator assistance to access the bus. ADA accessible seating space near the front of the bus is reserved for individuals in mobility devices, individuals in need of special assistance, and families with children in strollers.

GRTC Chief Executive Officer Julie Timm says, “In continuing service during this state of emergency, our first priority remains the safety, health, and financial well-being of our employees, their families, and our riders. By eliminating close interactions at bus fareboxes, we can better implement social distancing by avoiding interaction in this high contact space.” GRTC also added an additional Pulse bus to service so riders may spread out on more buses. The Pulse system still has high passenger loads despite overall decreased ridership.

GRTC provides lifeline employment and health connections for many of our riders and is the primary source of income for nearly 500 GRTC employees. Timm explains, “We take our obligation to provide that service very seriously. GRTC is closely monitoring updates on the COVID-19 virus spread in Virginia so that we may continue to take all reasonable precautions to address the risk and to maintain core service for the critical mobility and economic needs of our community. I maintain a high level of confidence in the safety of our service for our employees and our riders; however, we are asking all riders to assist in protecting our service by eliminating all non-essential trips and following all recommended health precautions and social distancing.”

GRTC frontline staff, including Operators, Supervisors, Cleaners, and Mechanics, are taking every reasonable precaution to protect themselves and each other while serving the public. GRTC has doubled the frequency of cleanings on all vehicles. GRTC and RideFinders’ offices are closed to the public. All GRTC public meetings are canceled. For the most complete and latest GRTC updates during this pandemic, please visit our website.

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Transportation

New ‘All Streets RVA’ aims to collectively map out conditions of all 1,900 miles of city streets in Richmond

Participants will walk, run, or bike to provide feedback on conditions of city streets.

RVAHub Staff

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The new ‘All Streets RVA’ event from Sports Backers aims to inspire a collective mission to accomplish the biggest biking, walking, and running effort the City of Richmond has ever seen while collecting feedback on the conditions of all 1,900 miles of city streets. The feedback and data collected will help inform efforts to make all areas more comfortable and connected for residents and visitors and encourage active living on a daily basis. All Streets RVA takes place between June 8-June 30, and registration is free and currently open at www.sportsbackers.org.

After taking part, participants will report back where they were active and Sports Backers will map that section as completed. Participants will complete a brief survey after biking, walking, or running their section to provide detailed information on their experiences. Using an activity monitor app (like Strava, MapMyRun, Nike Run Club, etc.) is recommended, and it is also helpful to try to cover the distance between two intersections (rather than stopping mid-block).

Participants interested in covering multiple sections of city streets can opt to be a ‘Street Superhero’ during registration and will be notified of additional streets that Sports Backers and Bike Walk RVA need help covering.

“Our hope is that All Streets RVA will be an innovative way for our fellow community members to get active while taking part in an important civic project,” said Louise Lockett Gordon, Director of Bike Walk RVA for Sports Backers. “We know that there are so many physical and mental health benefits of active living, and this particular project will also help determine the state of our streets in a way that we don’t think has been done before.”

When completed, All Streets RVA will provide a good understanding of the condition of the streets around the City of Richmond, with participants encouraged to provide both an objective view of the existing infrastructure as well as a subjective view of the ease or challenges of getting around our community. Registration for the event and a full map of the All Streets RVA area can be found at https://www.sportsbackers.org/events/all-streets-rva/.

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Downtown

Expect delays on GRTC today as bus operators take leave to get COVID-19 testing

For the second time this week, GRTC is cautioning all riders that there may be significant service disruptions or cancelations Friday while some bus Operators take paid leave to be voluntarily tested for COVID-19 after GRTC’s first positive Operator case.

RVAHub Staff

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For the second time this week, GRTC is cautioning all riders that there may be significant service disruptions or cancelations Friday while some bus Operators take paid leave to be voluntarily tested for COVID-19 after GRTC’s first positive Operator case. As staff await results, which can take a day or two, GRTC requests that customers prepare to make alternative arrangements for all essential trips through this weekend.

The delays follow a disruption on Monday in which about half of drivers called out due to failure of the transit employees’ union coming to an agreement over hazard pay.

GRTC plans to ensure there is at least one bus in service on all routes Friday, but that means many routes have hourly service. Bus resources continue to be prioritized to high-ridership routes to encourage social distancing on-board.

During the day if GRTC does not have enough Operations staff on duty to put at least minimal service on most routes, GRTC may need to cancel fixed-route service entirely. If this happens, GRTC will put on-demand service in place for urgent and essential trips to medical facilities that cannot be met due to canceled transit services. This will only be available if bus service is significantly disrupted or canceled, and the number for on-demand service will be released with a new service disruption notice.

All critical health care trips on GRTC CARE service will be met. All service impacts will be posted on GRTC’s website and communicated through Customer Service at 804-358-4782.

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Downtown

Commonwealth Transportation Board allocates Federal CARES Act Funding to Virginia public transit systems

The Commonwealth Transportation Board approved the allocation of nearly $100 million of the $456 million in federal public transportation funding apportioned to Virginia by the CARES Act.

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The Commonwealth Transportation Board approved the allocation of nearly $100 million of the $456 million in federal public transportation funding apportioned to Virginia by the CARES Act. The stimulus funds will enable local governments, small urban, and rural transit agencies throughout the Commonwealth to offset the substantial revenue losses, as well as sustain essential mobility functions related to the prevention, preparation, and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our public transit agencies are the backbone of our economy and ensure critical movement of goods and people in all of our communities,” stated Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “This relief helps Virginia’s transit systems continue essential services and operations, and also offset the substantial costs of driver salaries, sanitization supplies, and protective equipment purchased to combat the Coronavirus and its aftermath.”

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which includes $25 billion in federal transit assistance. The Commonwealth of Virginia was apportioned $456 million as follows:

  • $356.6 million distributed directly to urban public transit agencies.
  • $47.2 million to the Commonwealth of Virginia for discretionary allocation to small urban transit agencies.
  • $52.5 million to the Commonwealth of Virginia for discretionary allocation to rural transit agencies, the Virginia Breeze intercity bus service, and the Appalachian Development Public Transportation Program.

The CTB amended DRPT’s FY 2020-2025 Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP) to reflect the nearly $100 million in discretionary funding as follows:

  • 100% of small urban transit agency funding according to the existing formula utilized by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Small urban agencies can apply directly to the FTA for their share of funding (CARES Act Section 5307 Apportionment Split Letter).
  • 50% of rural transit agency funding according to the FY2020 allocation formula for FTA rural operating funding. (CARES Act Section 5311 Initial Distribution)
  • 15% of rural transit agency funding to the Virginia Breeze intercity bus program.
  • 35% of remaining rural transit agency and Appalachian Development Public Transportation Program funding to be held in reserve to address critical transit agency needs and administrative support for management of the CARES Act program.

The federal CARES Act funding does not require a state or local match and is nearly three times the amount of federal transit funding appropriated to Virginia transit agencies in FY 2020. All operating and capital uses are eligible, retroactive to January 20, 2020, and include purchases of personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning equipment, and payment of administrative leave for employees.

CARES Act funding comes in addition to the $11 million in emergency statewide operating funding approved by the CTB last month, which has also allowed many Virginia public transit agencies to offset revenue and ridership losses and provide essential trips fare-free.

“The CARES Act will offer much-needed relief to our transit agencies that continue to endure ridership and revenue losses,” stated Director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Jennifer Mitchell. “The funding will have a profound impact on the public transportation industry and its ability to recover from the pandemic.”

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