VCU’s New Buses
okay so VCU just revealed their new bus fleet this week.It’s a new privatized charter by Groome Transportation, a company founded in Richmond back in the 30’s. VCU had been using the public GRTC buses since 2004. So we’ve got a local company taking the college kids off a few public buses, possibly freeing GRTC to enhance or extend other routes. Groome does seem like a quality shuttle service, based in airport travel, but boasting military licensing as well. Not to mention their service to seven universities in Virginia now with the addition of Virginia Commonwealth. The seats are all cushiony, and everything has the new VCU brand fucking everywhere.
My favorite part though is the new RAMRIDE real time bus locator. It’s pretty sweet as far as maps go. It’s a google based real time map with three layers of the Campus Connector, Medical Center, and Sanger routes. Connection points are plotted with ETA times of buses in route. There’s a search bar with the connection points already cached, and oh, you can get the mobile app too. This shiny new feature is provided by Trans Loc, a leader in interactive transit maps.
despite all this, theres no guarantee that GRTC will or even can improve or expand its routes for the rest of the city and counties. The introduction of VCU buses serve to remove and isolate students more from the real world, and the city itself. It creates a distinction, either that students are better than other at-large transit users, or even just a continuation of shuttering children and young adults, as often occurs during k-12 years. Furthermore, how is this all being paid for? new buses with amenities, and upgrades to come soon, and private drivers? That has to cost quite a bit. Is it coming from previous tuition increases, will future increases be necessary specifically to maintain this transportation system?
I can’t help but wonder if this whole thing is indicative of a larger trend of privatization of public services. Let us not forget that Virginia Commonwealth University is a public institution, despite quite a few of their practices. It’s not so much the buses themselves that bother me, but more of the underlying power and policy dynamics. Quite a few different groups stand to gain from this, but the real question is, who is going to lose?