Amid protests and COVID-19, GRTC ‘operating in an unprecedented situation’


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — GRTC had to suspend its route Wednesday along Broad Street due to protests, marking another hitch the transit system has experienced over the last few months.

From COVID-19 precautions and a mask mandate, to a Pulse bus being lit on fire amid riots, GRTC operations have been directly affected by two states of emergency. GRTC officials say things haven’t been easy to deal with.

Since the coronavirus shook up Virginia, 10 GRTC Transit System employees have tested positive for the virus. Carrie Rose Pace, a GRTC spokesperson, told 8News they have been acting fast for the safety of their employees and patrons.

“Currently GRTC is operating in an unprecedented situation, which is two simultaneous states of emergency,” Pace said. “One for the pandemic, and then one for the pedestrian protests that have been ongoing throughout our service area.”

With some people turning to riots that ultimately left a Pulse bus up in flames. The bus that was destroyed cost $475,000, but GRTC is still offering free rides until further notice.

“We are encouraged that the majority of the pedestrian protest activity is peaceful,” Rose told 8News. “The investigation, of course, is still ongoing for what happened to Pulse bus 2004 late Friday night. We were able to successfully retrieve security footage from a nearby bus, not the Pulse bus that burned of course. So that security footage is assisting with the investigation as well.”

GRTC had a full shutdown of service on Sunday and also had to monitor pedestrian protests for route changes and delays on Monday. Rose said that their priority continues to be safety.

“The body of the crowd moved from Broad St. instead of Franklin St. as initially estimated. We were able to halt the buses temporarily on Broad St so that we could let the pedestrian flow pass safely,” she told 8News. “On Monday night, we tested something new. Offering an on-demand emergency ride home service. Where we fully cover the cost of taking the customer who had been left at a bus stop after we had to stop service at 6 p.m., and taking them home by 8 p.m. in time for the curfew.”

GRTC said that since there is no official end date to the protests, they will continue to adapt and make route changes as necessary.

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