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GRTC completes launch of on-demand transit service

The fifth of five LINK Microtransit zones in the pilot program opens July 1.

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GRTC representatives, county leaders, transit advocates, and riders gathered on Thursday, June 27 for a ribbon-cutting.

Photo by RICtoday

GRTC has cut the ribbon on the fifth of five zones included in its on-demand transit pilot, LINK. The Sandston/Elko zone officially opens Monday, July 1.

Work on the project began in 2021, when the company began a study to investigate bringing a microtransit service to the region. Now, fare-free services are available in five different neighborhoods: Azalea, Ashland, Sandston/Elko, Clover Dale, and Powhatan.

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LINK buses are wheelchair accessible.

Photo by RICtoday

LINK works more like a taxi service than a traditional bus route. Users simply open the GRTC On the Go app or call the LINK number, input their pick-up and drop-off locations, and wait for a bus to arrive within 20 minutes.

The service is active on weekdays from 5 a.m. until 8 p.m. LINK can take riders anywhere in the zone, including to a bus stop to connect with a normal route.

At the ribbon-cutting, GRTC spokesperson Henry Bendon spoke to the growth of the program since the first zone launched in November 2023 in Azalea. Bendon said the company has seen a 30% increase in new riders month over month — in May, the service provided over 4,900 rides.

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Rev. Tyrone Nelson speaks at the ribbon-cutting event for the Sandston/Elko zone.

Photo by RICtoday

Tyrone Nelson, who serves as chair of both the Henrico Board of Supervisors as well as the GRTC Board of Directors, shared his excitement for that day’s zone launch.

“As the supervisor of Henrico’s Varina District, it definitely means a lot to see our residents finally have access to free public transportation like never before in this region,” Nelson said.

LINK zones are designed to provide reliable public transit in neighborhoods that are less supported by fixed-route service. The pilot program has five zones, but the program could be expanded in the future.

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