RICHMOND, Va. -- Many people, it seemed, took advantage of the free rides as GRTC Pulse service started Sunday in Richmond.
The GRTC Pulse is a rapid-transit bus that connects Rocketts Landing in eastern Henrico to Willow Lawn in western Henrico. It stops 14 times -- mostly on Broad Street -- along the 7.6-mile route through downtown Richmond.
While ridership totals were not yet available, GRTC spokesperson Carrie Rose Pace said Sunday's ridership "exceeded expectations."
"It uses a lot of the design and engineering features similar to a light rail or a train," GRTC spokesperson Carrie Rose Pace said. "It allows it to be faster, more frequent, more reliable, and certainly more accessible."
Sunday's GRTC Pulse launch attracted both regular and first-time bus riders interested in the new service.
"I used to commute down to 7th Street every day and it took me about an hour from Willow Lawn, so I'm really excited that this is going to cut my time in half," Pulse rider Eliot Cleveland said. "Anytime I can save time from the commute it's going to be great."
While rides on GRTC Pulse would normally cost $1.50 per ride (or $3.50 for a day pass), rides are free during this first week of service.
"All this week during the launch of The Pulse, and all of our new routes, we can ride for free, unlimited, on all of our routes," Rose Pace said. "The only route excluded is the Kings Dominion express, "she added.
The crowded buses led to some first-day learning experiences for both riders and drivers.
Tickets can be purchased at Pulse stations or by using the GRTC app.
In addition to the launch of GRTC Pulse, GRTC updated many of its old routes.
"New routes will connect busier areas with more direct routes. This means more frequent bus service and more consistency throughout the day," a GRTC spokesperson said.
How was your experience riding The GRTC Pulse? Send your feedback, photos, or video here.