GRTC ridership up 17%

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 5/24/2019, 6 a.m.
More people are using public transit, GRTC reported Tuesday.

More people are using public transit, GRTC reported Tuesday.

The company crowed about bucking the national trend of falling ridership, boasting passenger use was up 17 percent compared with a year ago.

Company data showed much of the increase was due to ridership from Virginia Commonwealth University staff and students under a contract the university has with the transit company, as well and as heavy weekday use of the Pulse rapid transit.

The figures show that 6.3 million people rode the Pulse or GRTC buses during the first nine months of the 2018-19 budget year.

That’s an 830,000 increase in riders from the 5.47 million passengers recorded as taking GRTC buses during all 12 months of the 2017-18 fiscal year.

The current total also exceeds the 6 million passengers who rode GRTC during the 12 months of the 2016-17 fiscal year.

“We are proud to prove that a transit system, in partnership with localities and funding partners, can modernize and reverse ridership decline,” said Charles Mitchell, GRTC’s interim chief executive officer.

The Pulse, which is GRTC’s busiest bus route, now carries an average of more than 7,000 riders every weekday along the 7 miles between The Shops at Willow Lawn and Rockett’s Landing, double the service’s goal of about 3,500 weekday passengers.

Since August, GRTC has recorded nearly 600,000 VCU passengers boarding and riding by showing an ID based on the service contract with VCU, which is now under negotiation.

Aside from Pulse, which carries about 43,000 passengers in a seven-day week, the busiest local routes include the 1 and 2 north-south lines and route 5 that travels between Carytown in the West End and Whitcomb Court in the East End