HENRICO, Va. – Richmond travelers and residents alike will have a new mass transit option when traveling to and from the Richmond International Airport, GRTC announced.
Though two routes currently take travelers to the airport, there has long been a gap in consistent hourly and weekend service.
The bus route 56 South Laburnum makes three daily trips to the airport and the number 7 Seven Pines route currently transports passengers near the airport, but not directly there.
Henrico County and airport officials approved of an adjustment to the Seven Pines route that will include a dedicated airport stop near baggage claim. From 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., buses will operate every 30 minutes.
The route will still not operate on weekends.
The last city stop will be at 7th and Marshall, with the bus traveling along Laburnum Avenue, Nine Mile Road and Marshall Street. From that stop, passengers will find it easy to access the rest of the (currently under-construction) transit hub, and travel any direction utilizing various routes.
GRTC said that the route extension is not just for travelers, but also to serve airport employees and increase access to airport jobs. The airport has 2,500 employees and officials heard from both passengers and employees that there was a need for more routes.
"There has been a demand for more [routes to the airport] for years. It's taken some time, but we're finally at a point where we've gotten to that place where we've identified a service that will work," said Carrie Rose Pace, GRTC communications director.
The service will launch when The Pulse is ready to operate, which is expected sometime in early 2018. The fare to or from the airport will still be just $1.50.
This addition is part of a GRTC overhaul underway as work continues on the bus rapid transit known as The Pulse, a dedicated 7.6 mile fast lane of travel from Henrico County, at Willow Lawn, to Rockett's Landing. The Pulse is intended to serve as a piece of the city's multi-modal transportation solution that is pedestrian oriented but also transit supportive. Newly installed bike share hubs are strategically placed throughout the city to provide alternative transportation that connects with the bus network.
The three partners, RIC, GRTC and Henrico County are planning new signage to accompany the new stop and additional routes.
“Richmond International Airport expects that improved GRTC bus service to the airport will not only provide benefits in terms of workforce access to a major employment center, but will also offer a consistent public transit option to travelers visiting the Richmond Region," said Troy Bell, director of marketing at the airport.
"If you’re traveling light with up to two personal items, then you can fit on a GRTC bus, ride to RIC, and take off for national and international destinations. Henrico County is committed to connecting residents and employees with Greater Richmond and beyond," said Todd Eure with Henrico County Public Works.