RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As temperatures drop and the looming threat of snow grows near, long waits at the bus stop are increasingly undesirable.

Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) spokesperson Mike Frontiero confirmed addressing these growing wait times is of paramount concern for the transit system.

“It’s been a persistent problem exasperated by the pandemic,” Frontiero said.

Only about 5% of GRTC bus stops have bus shelters. These shelters provide at least some degree of protection — like a roof, windbreaking wall, or seats. According to representatives from the GRTC, as well as riders who’ve spoken with 8News in the past, increasing accessibility to protective shelters could drastically improve the rider experience.

GRTC highlights this method as a focal point in addressing uncomfortable, prolonged wait times, from a long-term perspective.

“One thing we’re working on to improve the rider experience is to make our bus stops more accommodating and more comfortable,” Frontiero said. “While they don’t have heaters, we will be installing more shelters at our bus stops.”

This image shows what the GRTC considers an “ideal” bus shelter, complete with seating, a roof, and space for riders to comfortably wait for their buses. Image courtesy of Tim Corley.

These modifications will be installed over the course of the next few years, so in the meantime — combatting seasonal challenges this year — the transit system targets tackling staffing shortages.

“We’ve been offering pay incentives, bonuses, and more flexible schedules,” Frontiero said. “We do have a new class of bus operators in training right now and they will be behind the wheel within the coming weeks and months.”

Also at the forefront of news surrounding the local transportation system rests the company’s recent announcement regarding expanded services through a micro-transit pilot program. With these expansion aspirations, sufficient equipment, plenty of stops, but just not enough bus operators, the priority is filling those open positions and beating the snowy weather ahead.

“That makes it even more urgent for us to fix this problem and that’s what we’re working on,” Frontiero said.

More information on how to apply for a role with GRTC can be found here.