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GRTC's zero-fare policy remains as gas prices soar: 'It's the best time ever to try transit'

'Save some dollars, save the economy, save the environment'
Posted at 6:24 PM, Mar 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-13 22:59:40-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Daryl Granderson set out Sunday afternoon to enjoy the sunshine after a frigid and frosty Saturday.

“I just had to get out the house real quick,” Granderson said. “With this weather and the snow unexpected. It’s crazy weather.”

To get from point A to point B, the Richmond man hopped on a GRTC (Greater Richmond Transit Company) bus, which he usually relies on for transportation during the weekend. He said it's a cost-efficient way to travel as prices at the pump continue to soar.

“The gas prices are ridiculous. I don't know how it's going to continue,” he said. “But I appreciate GRTC having a free ride with the public transit.”

Daryl Granderson
Daryl Granderson

Currently, it doesn't cost a penny for riders to utilize GRTC thanks to a zero-fare policy that extends through 2025. However, Granderson wondered if rising gas prices might impact that.

“I’m puzzled at how it hasn’t affected the GRTC," he said.

GRTC CEO Julie Trimm said the costs of fuel will not impact the zero-fare policy because a majority of GRTC vehicles use compressed natural gas.

"The GRTC impact is minimal," Trimm said. "Honestly, this is what we do for our businesses. We operate vehicles and so we have to manage and track our fuel consumption."

GRTC CEO Julie Trimm
GRTC CEO Julie Trimm

She explained a former CEO started GRTC's transition to compressed natural gas about ten years ago and only a small percentage of its fleet still uses diesel.

“It's a different form of gas than what you see at the fuel pump," Trimm said. “And if you look at our buses, you'll see a lot of them have those two blades on the top. That’s compressed natural gas.”

While Trimm said bus ridership is at pre-pandemic levels, she believes more people will turn to public transit to avoid filling up their tanks, and she also anticipates increased interest in GRTC's vanpool program.

"I would expect to see some of those numbers start to come back," Trimm explained. "We are getting more inquiries for new vanpools."

GRTC
GRTC

GRTC partners with a group called RideFinders to run the vanpool program which services those who commute at least 25 miles for work. You can find more information about the program here.

“It is the best time ever to try transit," Trimm said. "Save some dollars, save the economy, save the environment.”

Grandson said he plans to do just that.

“Because I’m not made out of money," he said. "I got to count my twos and fews, and make it do what it do."

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