RVA Pulse Points: New Station Platforms Pose Potential Hazards

GRTC Pulse, the 7.6 mile rapid transit bus system, launches in Richmond, Virginia on June 24, 2018. Drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists in the city are slowly getting the hang of sharing their commute with specially designated bus-only travel lanes, but how ready for launch are those who plan to ride the Pulse?

Before the construction of the new Pulse transit stations, all of Richmond’s bus stops were curbside and positioned at street level. Now bus riders will have to navigate elevated station platforms, median stops in the center of busy roadways, and “walk-through” platforms that comprise entire sections of city sidewalk. These changes may seem slight at first glance, but they could pose serious dangers to bus riders and other pedestrians if proper precautions are not taken.

Elevated Platforms Mean Elevated Risk

New elevated station platforms position bus riders high enough to allow for stairless bus boarding. Because of this, Pulse buses are easily accessible to those in wheelchairs and those with young children in strollers.

The same high position that makes for easier boarding also creates potential risks for falls, impact with mirrors on buses or on trucks using the bus lane to make right turns, and they even create the chance of someone being pinched or pinned between the platform and a vehicle.

These risks can be minimized by following these simple precautions:

  • Use only the station ramps to access the transit platforms.
  • Never jump onto platforms from the street or climb over the end rails.
  • Remain behind the yellow warning strip at the edge of the platform until the arriving bus comes to a complete stop.
  • Supervise children carefully while waiting for buses and while boarding.
  • Never lean off of platforms to look for approaching buses.

Safety First When Using Median Stations

With Pulse transit stations in medians and other locations where motorists may not be accustomed to heavy pedestrian traffic, using extra caution is advised.

These simple guidelines can help you share the road safely and avoid becoming a statistic when accessing new bus stops:

  • Use only clearly-marked crosswalks to reach the stations.
  • Cross when the traffic signal indicates you have the right of way.
  • Allow yourself plenty of time to reach the station—do not enter a roadway right before a signal changes.
  • Make eye-contact with motorists before entering the roadway.
  • Even when you have the right of way, stay alert for motorists making left turns and attempting to enter the street you are crossing.
  • Never dart into the street or run to catch a bus—stay safe and wait for the next one. Pulse operates on a schedule of 10 and 15-minute stop intervals.

Practice Situational Awareness

The GRTC has equipped each Pulse station with security cameras to allow for 24/7 monitoring by its employees, as well as 911 emergency call boxes when police, fire, or EMS response is needed. They advise using the call boxes only in situations where you would need to speak with an emergency services dispatcher, like medical emergencies, violent crimes, or potentially dangerous abandoned or suspicious bags and packages.

Despite these features, bus riders waiting at stations should always practice situational awareness to help assure their own safety. This means that your attention should be focused on what is going on around you so that you may quickly identify any threatening situations or people who may intend to cause you harm.

Watch for erratic drivers on roadways near stations, cyclists who zip into walk-through transit stations where such activity is both dangerous and prohibited, and individuals approaching you while you are alone.

Keep your valuables out of sight and avoid allowing yourself to be distracted by your phone.

Other Pulse Safety Precautions

In order to raise community awareness of the changes we all need to make to help the GRTC Pulse launch safely and successfully, Allen & Allen has initiated a campaign to share tips for bus riders, motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians throughout May and June, 2018.

Be sure to check our blog every Monday for new and informative articles that can help you stay safe and improve the quality of your commute when sharing the road with Pulse. If you have specific questions or safety concerns, please let us know! Reach out to us on Twitter at @allenandallen for answers, quick tips and helpful infographics. Share your own recommendations for Pulse safety with us by using the hashtag #RVAPulsePoints.