Coverage, Ridership, or Familiar? CHOOSE WISELY.

Richmond is in the process of redesigning its bus system. Now we get to decide how we want it to work!

Today the Richmond Transit Network Plan folks released three “concepts” of what the future of Richmond’s bus system could look like. Each concept is a different answer to The Big Question the entire Transit Network Plan process is set up to ask: “Ridership or Coverage?”

To get a handle on what those two words mean as they relate to rejiggering a bus system, you can just read the extremely interesting and beautiful 60-page PDF entitled The Richmond Transit Choices Report, or, if you’d rather spend your time doing other things, read the following couple sentences:

If your bus system is stoked on ridership, you’re gonna be into getting as many people onto buses at the same time as possible. If you’re real into coverage, you’ll focus on making sure that everyone has access to at least some buses. These goals conflict—at least if we’re working under the assumption of a fixed budget, which, duh. To increase ridership you’d do things like consolidate lines and make them insanely frequent. To increase coverage you’d run wiggly bus routes within a couple blocks of everyone’s home. The former makes transit a lot farther away from some folks, while the latter makes the buses very slow. See, conflict! They do a much better job explaining all of this over the course of the 60 pages in the Choices Report. You should read it! Don’t be afraid of it!

Luckily, our answer to The Big Question, doesn’t have to be just ridership or solely coverage. It’ll be a uniquely Richmond spot along a continuum with ridership at one end and coverage at the other. We get to decide, informed by our values as a community, where we want to spend our bus transit money. By the way, the amount of budget allocated to ridership goals vs. coverage goals is how we’ll end up measuring all of this—our current allocation is about 50–50.

The three choices below all do different things. The first optimizes the system for coverage, the second optimizes it for ridership, the third keeps things nice and familiar.

The coolest part about this whole process is that we get to decide, together, what we want our system to look like.

High Coverage Concept


This guy seeks to minimize walking distance to bus stops. Somethings to notice: There are a lot more lines than and they’re all running about every 30 minutes. In this concept, the budget is still split 50–50 between ridership and coverage goals, but they’ve cleaned things up a bit from the way they work currently.

High Ridership Concept


Behold! This is what an 80–20 split between ridership and coverage looks like. Check out all of those bright red lines that run every 15 minutes! A system designed like this would allow you to walk out of your door to a bus stop without ever looking at a schedule. That’s the magic of high-frequency lines.

Familiar Concept


The status quo! Booooring. Just kidding—lots of folks ride the bus currently, and this map seeks to minimize the disruption to those people. Notice how squiggly and uneven all the lines are compared to the High Coverage concept.

Like I said earlier, we’re looking to find our place on a spectrum. None of these maps is the map. We’ll work, through the magic of public meetings and contact forms, to come to some sort of consensus and find our own This is Richmond Concept.

Public meetings and contact forms

Ways for you to weigh in:

  • Facebook
  • @RichmondTNP
  • July 26th; Southside Community Services Center; 4100 Hull Street
  • July 27th; DMV Richmond Central Services; 2300 West Broad Street
  • August 3rd; Powhatan Community Center; 5051 Northampton Street
  • August 4th; Community High School; 201 Brookland Park Boulevard

Author: Ross Catrow

Loud clapper.