Proposed Transit Routes in Richmond, Virginia: A plan for environmentally responsible economic growth December 17, 2012 By John Bardo and Mackenzie Jarvis
Introduction: The Richmond, Virginia Metropolitan Area lacks a region-wide alternative pubictransportation system. Many of the region’s jobs are inside the City of Richmond, and as a resultmany people commute to Richmond from areas distantly outside the city. Automobile is the onlymode of transit into and out of Richmond for most of the Metro Area, causing people to spendlong hours in traffic emitting harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. In the distant suburbs theaverage commute time can last as long as 35 minutes. The people, economy and environment of Metro Richmond would benefit from asupplementary transit system running out of the city and into the suburbs. Commuting timeswould be reduced giving people more time to spend on leisure or completing extra work.Economically disadvantaged towns such as Petersburg would be revitalized with new residentsand small businesses attracted by the easy access to the City of Richmond. The City ofRichmond’s medium income is 38,266 dollars, and such a project would create new jobs in theconstruction industry and,upon completion, in the transportation and service industries as well asimprove air quality by reducing pollution. The following proposes several public transit lines considering a variety of social,economic and geographic factors to determine precise placement. Metro Richmond already hastransportation corridors along major interstate highways (64, 85, and 95). The public transitsystem will not attempt to change the corridors; rather it will supplement highways to encouragecar riders to use public transit instead. In addition, the system would serve areas lackingconvenient connection to an interstate highway, allowing people in disconnected areas a reliableconnection to the City of Richmond. Stations will be located in small existing towns to encourage development of edge citiesrather than sprawling suburbs. Population was the main determinant in deciding where to place astation, however other factors including job location, travel time to work, and median incomewere also considered. All data was collected from the United States Census Bureau’s 2010-2011American Community Survey, and the US Census On the Map database.Figure 1.
Above is a dot density map showing primary places of residence in the Richmondmetropolitan area. Most people who live outside the city live along the interstate corridorsrevealing that in order to discourage people from commuting by car, public transit lines shouldbe built along these corridors. However, there are some exceptions of high concentration areasoutside of the highways, particularly in the southwestern corner. The unincorporated areasshould not be ignored as the population is spread evenly throughout, and living in a less-developed area should not deny a person access to speedy public transportation to jobs in theCity of Richmond.Figure 2. Above is a dot density map showing primary locations of employment for people wholive in the Richmond Metropolitan area. Compared to the previous map, this map shows fewerand smaller dots in areas outside the city of Richmond, particularly in the inner southwest cornerand along the interstate highways. This reveals that many workers who live outside the citycommute inside for work.
Figure 3.Above is a map that shows the density and location of those workers who are employed inRichmond.Line 1:Richmond, Mechanicsville, Glen Allen, Ashland, and Boling Green
Number of meidan income Current travel time RichmondLetter Station population (In dollars) to work (In Minutes) WorkersA Richmond 205,533 $ 38,266 21.4 28,997B Mechanicsville 36,348 $ 68,302 23.5 3,075C Glen Allen 14,774 $ 65,230 19.1 1,476D Ashland 7,256 $ 46,474 21.3 358E Boling Green* 28,674 $ 58,707 38.1 622 Line 1 would run adjacent to the I-95 Corridor. All residents along this line currentlyspend less time than the state average driving to work. Mechanicsville and Glen Allen are twomajor employment locations outside Richmond and they are the inner Richmond Suburbs. Thecommute times over 20 minutes for people in these towns are probably due to conventionalurban traffic. A rapid public transit system could bring people from Mechanicsville to
Richmondand vice versa faster than a car. In addition, line 1 serves the towns with the mostRichmond workers, most notably Mechanicsville where 3,075 residents work in Richmond. Ashland, which contributes 1,476 people to the Richmond workforce, is the only townoutside of Richmond on line 1 with a median income below the national average. ConnectingAshland to Richmond by public transit would expand access to Richmond jobs for people lesslikely to have cars and reduce commuting time for those with cars. Although Boling Green is a town of just over 1,000 people, it will be included in thetransit system because it is relatively far from I-95 and surrounded by rural, sparsely populatedland. Public transit to Richmond would bring economic growth and housing development toBoling Green, and attract Richmond commuters who cannot afford to live in Mechanicsville anddo not want to spend extended periods of time in the car on the way to work.Line 2:Richmond, Mechanicsville, Aylett,King and Queen Courthouse Current Travel Number of Meidan Income Time to Work (In RichmondLetter Station Population (In Dollars) Minutes) WorkersA Richmond 205,533 $ 38,266 21.4 28,997B Mechanicsville 36,348 $ 68,302 23.5 3,075C Aylett* 15,981 $ 64,946 35.9 910 King and QueenE Court House* 11,205 $ 46,235 32.8
Most of the stations on line 2 are located in towns too small to have their own ACS data.However, some of these towns are located far away from interstate highways and in lowerincome counties. The long drive to Richmond, or anywhere else outside of towns like Aylett,probably explains why many of the average commute times are over 30 minutes. Like in BolingGreen, public transit in the Northeast corridor will foster economic growthin the towns wherestations are placed. Since this corner of the region is less densely developed with comparatively fewRichmond workers (Only 5.6% of residents in King William County work in Richmond), publictransit is not as essential as in other corners. However, since there is no data on exact number ofworkers who commute somewhere other than the City of Richmond, it is possible thesecommutes are to other towns along the proposed transit line. If line 2 were to be constructed,commuters in rural unincorporated areas would ideally drive to the nearest town, park their carsand ride public transit, but many may find this even less convenient.Line 3:Richmond, Highland Springs, New Kent, West Point, Williamsburg
Current Travel Number of Median Income Time to Work RichmondLetter Station Population (in Dollars) (In Minutes) WorkersA Richmond 205,533 $ 38,266.00 21.4 28,997B Highland Springs 15,711 $ 40,904.00 21.8 1,794C New Kent* 18,822 $ 70,590.00 30.6 1,137D West Point* 15,981 $ 64,946.00 35.9 55E Williamsburg 14,444 $ 50,794.00 19.5 65 The I-64 corridor east of Richmond is an important commuter route. People who live inKing William and New Kent counties spend excessive amounts of time driving to work. This is acomparatively wealthy part of Metro Richmond, especially in New Kent County where themedian income is over 70,000. It is likely almost all of these people own cars and drive on I-64.Service to Highland Springs and New Kent are most essential because they contain a substantialamount of Richmond workers. From an economic standpoint, Highland Springs could benefitmost because it has one of the lowest median incomes in the region at 40,904 dollars. Williamsburg seems to function as a self-contained, satellite city as most people wholive there probably also work there because the average Williamsburg resident only spends 19.5minutes traveling to work, and only 65 of them (0.4%) work in Richmond. However, rapidtransit connecting Richmond to Williamsburg could benefit Williamsburg because its historicarea is a tourist destination.Line 4:Richmond, Laurel, Glen Allen, Wyndham and Montpelier.
Mean Current Travel Time to JobLetter Station Population Median Income Work (Minutes) CountA Richmond, Va 205,533 $ 38,266.00 21.4 28,997B Laurel, Va 16,024 $ 31,422.00 20.9 1,461C Glenn Allen, Va 15,021 $ 38,750.00 46.5 1,476D Wyndham, Va 9,384 $ 87,837.00 46.5 948E Montpelier, Va 100342* 40,147* Not Available * 7902* This line would supplement the transportation avenues in the Northwestern sector of theRichmond Virginia Metropolitan area between I-95 and I-64. Laurel Virginia was included as astop because of the population density (16,024) of the area and the large amount of residents whoare employed in Richmond (1,461). The cities of Glen Allen and Wyndham were selected astransit stops because residents of both areas have mean travel times to work that over more thandouble that of the state mean (46.5 minutes each). This drastic increase in commute timeconstitutes the need of supplementary transportation methods (despite the small size ofWyndham which has only 9,384 residents). The large amounts of residents who are employed inRichmond in each city (1,476 and 948 respectively) also constitutes the need for additionaltransportation means. Mean travel time data was not available for Montpelier because it is anunincorporated location in Charles City County, Virginia. This location was included because itrepresents an area of high population density and is a historic destination; it is the location ofJames Madison’s home and houses a center for Constitution Education(http://www.montpelier.org/center).Line 5:Richmond, Bon Air and Midlothian.
Mean Current Travel Time Job CountLetter Station Population Median Income to Work (in Minutes) from locationA Richnmond, Va 205,533 $ 38,266 21.4 28,997B Bon Air, Va 16,366 $ 42,953 21.6 1,934C Midilothian, Va 59,251* 45,744* 23.6* 29,989* This line would supplement the transportation methods in the Southwest Corridor of theRichmond Metropolitan area, which is currently served by I-64 and I-95. While both stops; BonAir and Midlothian, have mean travel times similar to the state wide mean (21.6 and 23.6minutes respectively), they represent areas of high population density. Bon Air is suggestedbecause it sits on the edge of the city of Richmond and a transit stop here would alleviate stresson systems within the city of Richmond. Midlothian was selected because the population densityof not only the city itself but also the surrounding area (59,251). As seen in Figure 3 the areabetween Midlothian and the I-64 corridor is incredibly populated. This dense population alsoleads to an incredibly high rate of employment in Richmond (29,989) and a supplemental transitline would reduce congestion on I-64 and reduce travel time.Line 6:Richmond, Bellwood, Chesterfield and Petersburg.
Mean Current Travel Time Job Count fromLetter Station Population Median Income to Work (in Minutes) locationA Richnmond, Va 205,533 $ 38,266.00 21.4 28,997B Bellwood, Va 5,008 $ 29,472.00 Not available 515C Chesterield, Va 320,277* 39,894* 25.3* 29989*D Petersburg, Va 32,349 $ 27,571.00 22.2 1,144 This line would serve the South of the Richmond Metropolitan area and supplement I-95.Although Bellwood is home to only 515 Richmond employees and has a relatively smallpopulation (5,008) it has been selected as a transit stop because of its convenient location alongthe proposed transit line and the fact that the instillation of a transit system would encourage thegrowth and development of the area. Chesterfield is a prime location for a transit stop because ofits high population and the fact that Chesterfield is home to the Chesterfield County Air Port andits proximity to the Pocahontas State Park and Forrest. Facilitating travel to this area wouldreduce travel times to and from the airport and increase use and access to the park. Petersburg isa logical location for a transit stop, regardless of its residents typical travel time (22.2 minutes)and relatively low population density because of the large amount of residents that are employedin Richmond (1,144). Increasing public transit to this area would facilitate traveling to work forthose with low incomes and hopefully raise the median income, which is currently lower thanthat of Richmond.Conclusion All in all 17 new, supplementary transit stops have been proposed for the RichmondVirginia Metropolitan area. Stops are located in Richmond, Mechanicsville, Glen Allen, AshlandBoling Green, Aylett, King and Queen Court House, Highland Springs, New Kent, West Point,Williamsburg, Laurel, Wyndham, Montpelier, Bon Air, Midlothian, Bellwood, Chesterfield andPetersburg Virginia. These proposed transit lines and stops will alleviate congestion on currenttransportation routes (such as I-64 and I-95), reduce traffic times and provide moreenvironmentally sustainable transportation methods. They would also encourage growth in smallrural areas such as Bellwood and Boling Green. The Richmond Metropolitan area would greatlybenefit from the proposed supplemental transit systems.*Data is from the county in which the town or Census Designated Place is located