The Central Virginia Transportation Authority (CVTA) recently approved GRTC’s Regional Public Transportation Plan for Fiscal Year 2024, which includes expanded service on two bus routes in Chesterfield.
Most significant is GRTC’s planned extension of Route 1A by eight miles along Midlothian Turnpike, ending at Walmart Way just west of Chesterfield Towne Center.
Chesterfield obtained funding for the route extension as a one-year pilot program through a grant from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.
It will be evaluated using established transit metrics – including ridership, revenue miles, revenue hours, operating expense and on-time performance -- to track performance over the duration of the pilot and benchmark it against similar routes in the GRTC system.
According to spokesman Henry Bendon, GRTC is in the process of field verifying potential locations for bus stops along Midlothian Turnpike with the intention of initiating service by next January.
GRTC will have to hire additional drivers to provide regular 30-minute service along the extended Route 1A, Bendon noted.
Because of the high volume of commercial and residential properties located either immediately adjacent to or within proximity of Midlothian Turnpike, the Richmond Regional Transportation Planning Organization (TPO)’s long-term Transit Vision Plan identifies the heavily traveled corridor as a prime candidate for expansion of public transportation.
The full-service bus route that currently terminates just across the Richmond-Chesterfield line already is among the busiest in GRTC’s regional network.
Chesterfield hired the Southeastern Institute of Research (SIR) last year to conduct a market research study and collect feedback from citizens about extending the route along Midlothian Turnpike. Of the 1,931 survey respondents, 56% agreed or strongly agreed it would be a benefit to the overall community.
During the pilot, Route 1A riders will have increased access to Johnston-Willis Hospital, office parks, hotels, restaurants and many retail businesses along Midlothian Turnpike, including Chesterfield Towne Center.
“In a historically tight labor market, many businesses located along Midlothian Turnpike are finding it difficult to recruit and retain the employees needed to sustain their daily operations. At the same time, there are people looking for jobs who don’t have access to a vehicle and live beyond reasonable walking distance of these employers,” said Dr. Mark S. Miller, who represents the Midlothian District on the Board of Supervisors. “Connecting businesses in Chesterfield’s busiest commercial corridor with this pool of available workers is a win-win and I’m very much looking forward to the launch of GRTC’s expanded Route 1A service.”
GRTC’s FY2024 Regional Public Transportation Plan also includes an extension of the bus route that runs north-south along Route 1 and currently terminates at Brightpoint Community College’s Chester campus.
The expanded Route 3B will service a former motel property south of Chester that is being redeveloped into affordable multifamily housing by the nonprofit Better Housing Coalition, as well as residents of the Greenleigh mobile home community.