The Moral Imperative for 21st Century Transportation in RVA
A strong multimodal transportation system is the lifeblood of a thriving city. Affordable and accessible transportation is what allows residents to take advantage of the incredible amenities that Richmond has to offer.
But comprehensive regional transportation is not just about quality of life: it is a moral imperative for our city and region. Quality public transportation is critical in helping residents exit poverty and access good jobs – whether in the city or in our neighboring counties. Hundreds of thousands of jobs in the Richmond area are currently inaccessible by public transportation. With the Richmond Transit Network Plan delivering recommendations in January 2017, the next Mayor has an opportunity to drastically improve the economic trajectory of Richmond’s poorest and most marginalized residents and improve the overall health of the region. For example, expansion of the Bus Rapid Transit service along key job corridors would connect Richmonders to at least 128,000 jobs currently inaccessible to those without a car.
As Mayor, Levar’s goals will be threefold regarding transportation:
- Improving the quality of public transportation service within the City of Richmond. The GRTC Pulse Bus Rapid Transit system coming online in 2017 presents an opportunity to revamp the bus service without additional public subsidy – it needs to be more frequent and more reliable
- Laying foundations towards a regional transit system. By collaborating with the surrounding counties and partners in the General Assembly, we can finally reach an agreement about extending the BRT into Henrico and Chesterfield and become the healthy, connected capital region that everyone can benefit from
- Connecting RVA to other cities. We must make high speed rail a priority, giving Richmonders access to jobs, travel, and of course benefitting our local businesses and tourism scene.
Levar’s Plan for Transforming Transportation in RVA
- Make GRTC Pulse BRT as efficient and reliable as possible
- Ensure it is up and running on time and on budget
- Offer discounted fares for senior citizens and children
- Promote transit-oriented development to boost employment, land value, and tax base implementing recommendations from the study currently underway in partnership with the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission
- Work with GRTC to implement the recommendations of the Richmond Transit Network Plan (due to City Council in January 2017)
- The Richmond Transit Network Plan process has made a serious effort to engage the entire community in improving bus routes and service – Levar will continue to monitor both the detail and execution of this plan to assure that service is maximized for all our citizens
- Take advantage of BRT to adjust service on Broad Street, thereby relieving congestion and speeding up travel times
- Remove the unpopular, inconvenient and appalling temporary transfer station at 9th & Marshall
- Realign service to generate improvement in both speed and frequency of service to riders, without increasing cost
- Lay foundations for a comprehensive regional transportation network
- Working with friends at Virginia Department of Transportation and neighboring counties, Levar will build off the GRTC Pulse momentum to expand bus service along job corridors into the surrounding counties
- We need north-south corridors from Chamberlayne to Jefferson Davis Highway
- We need east-west corridors from Short Pump to the Airport
- We must do a better job long term of connecting residents to good jobs in an affordable way – 17% of our households do not own a personal vehicle
- Build a high speed rail connection
- Levar is committed to making Main Street Station Richmond’s rail hub
- Collaborate with state, county and federal leaders to aggressively pursue funding and an efficient process to improve our connectivity with Washington, DC and other cities
- Make RVA increasingly bike friendly
- Levar will continue and accelerate progress, working with groups such as Sports Backers, and taking advantage of federal grant dollars
- Expanding the city’s new bike sharing program to all corners of the city
- Continued investment in bike lanes
- Use technology to map out traffic hotspots and use the data to make informed decisions about bike and pedestrian safety
- Support community programs like the Richmond Cycling Corps in engaging kids, especially low-income kids, in biking and providing bicycle access to children
Levar understands that the ability to get around can make the difference in whether or not a family is able to get by and get ahead. His administration will be focused on these five goals to increase mobility in Richmond and tear down the artificial boundaries that separate the city and its neighbors.
Safe, reliable, affordable transportation is an economic and moral imperative and as Mayor, Levar will make RVA competitive with other 21st century cities by establishing a comprehensive transportation network.
 City of Richmond, Mayor’s Anti-Poverty Commission Report (2013). P. 63. http://www.richmondgov.com/CommissionAntiPoverty/documents/Antipovertycommissionfinal1_17_2013c--printready.pdf