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“A roadmap for the future:” Four takeaways from the 2024 Transportation Forum 

Main Street Station in downtown Richmond, VA
Main Street Station in downtown Richmond, VA

More than 120 people from across the Richmond Region joined PlanRVA and its partners for the 2024 Transportation Forum in March to kick off engagement efforts for the 2050 Update to the region’s Long-Range Transportation Plan.  

During the Forum, panelists and attendees provided perspectives and ideas to help inform the community’s shared understanding of transportation needs and opportunities. 

“Cooperation is so critical to the successful growth and development of our communities across the region,” said James “Jim” Holland, Chesterfield County Supervisor and Chair of the Richmond Regional Transportation Planning Organization, in his opening remarks.   

Here are four takeaways from the event. 

Transportation impacts everyone 

Three panelists provided their personal stories during a segment focused on how people engage with the transportation network.  

Rick Holden with Riverside Logistics Services, a third-party logistics and supply chain management company based in Central Virginia, said the region’s robust infrastructure helps companies choose to locate to the area.  

Holden praised the region’s location and business-friendly assets like its modern port, railroad network, airport, and highway infrastructure. He noted the I-64 widening and port improvement investments will bring more businesses to the area such as recent corporate partners LEGO, Amazon, and Wegmans. 

Courtney Farrar highlighted her experiences riding public transportation. As a young person, growing up in the Petersburg area, she utilized cab services and ridesharing to fill public transportation gaps on her way to marching band and gospel practices. She was surprised when she moved back home to the region, that transit didn’t get her as far in the Richmond region as it had when she lived in the Washington, D.C. metro area.   

Farrar relied on bus service as an adult following a maintenance issue with her car. Feeling inspired to get involved following experiences with missed connections and late arrivals to her final destinations, she connected with RVA Rapid Transit, a nonprofit that advocates for frequent and far-reaching transit in the region and is now a community champion for change. 

She referenced the importance of incorporating the rider’s voice in policy and investment decisions and celebrated recent GRTC announcements about new shelters and benches to bus stops.  

On weekday mornings, Meg Lessard and her children pedal to childcare, school, and work, on their family’s electric bike outfitted with seats for her kids.  

“I’m deeply concerned about the climate crisis and how it will impact my children and our children’s future,” said Lessard. “Biking is one way to lower our own personal emissions.” 

The daily commutes give her and her children an opportunity to connect with the city in ways they couldn’t using a car. She calls her children’s attention to the birds, trees budding, and people fishing on the James River. 

But unprotected bike lanes and speeding cars can be nerve-wracking. She wants to see biking become more accessible and easier for everyone.  

“There are still places in the city that I feel we should be able to go – that we want to go to – but I can’t find a way to safely get there,” said Lessard.  

Introducing the 2050 Long-Range Transportation Plan  

“This is the roadmap for our future,” said Myles Busching, PlanRVA’s Director of Transportation. 

Busching introduced the audience to the process for the region’s upcoming 2050 Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), which guides the area’s transportation investments for all modes of travel including roads, transit, trails, bike, and pedestrian infrastructure.   

Myles Busching, PlanRVA’s Director of Transportation
Myles Busching, PlanRVA’s Director of Transportation

“We're looking 25 years out at what we think the future could be, and then planning and making policies and investment decisions to help guide us for that future,” said Busching. 

PlanRVA is leading the creation of the next LRTP through its role to staff the Richmond Regional Transportation Planning Organization, the federal and state designated regional transportation planning entity focused on cooperative transportation decision-making.  

Public input is a critical part of the process, and the Forum modeled an interactive activity. Elected officials, grassroots advocates, nonprofit professionals, government staff, and concerned residents worked together to identify strengths and weaknesses of our roadways and transportation infrastructure on a map of the region.  

Staff behind the plan are guided by a shared vision of a transportation system in the Richmond Region that will reliably and safely connect people, prioritize more equitable opportunities for all to thrive and live healthy lives, promote a strong economy, and respect environmental stewardship. 

“We’re focusing on people,” said Busching. “Everything we’re doing is about moving people and the goods that support our daily lives safely and efficiently throughout the region.” 

Also included: Scenario planning 

PlanRVA is incorporating a scenario planning tool called Pathways to the Future into this latest iteration of the LRTP.  

The process will incorporate different scenarios – such as climate, economic, and demographic shifts – and how they may impact future planning.  

Scenario planning helps to guide policy makers, planners, and community members through consideration of various future conditions and how to effectively respond to and plan for them. The process is also an effective tool for addressing and planning for future unknown possibilities. 

How you can help 

The PlanRVA team wants to hear from everyone in the region as it develops the LRTP.  

Busching encouraged attendees and the wider public to respond to future surveys and feedback opportunities.  

If you know a person or group in the community that should be involved in the planning process, consider connecting them to PlanRVA. We’ll also need your help to bring engagement opportunities to neighborhoods and groups across the nine localities in the Richmond region.  

The Transportation Forum was organized by PlanRVA,  in service to the Richmond Regional Transportation Planning Organization and in partnership with the Central Virginia Transportation Authority and ChamberRVA.

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