Good Morning, RVA: Goodbye summer, hello iDevices

Just a heads up: This afternoon your nerds may be unavailable.

Good morning, RVA! It’s 73 °F, and man was it hot yesterday! And, man, will it be hot today! Highs in the 90s will make you sweat, some clouds may roll in later this afternoon to provide some relieve, and–with any luck–some rain tonight will de-wilt some of my plants.

Water cooler

As expected, the state of the City’s finances is whoadang bad. Katy Burnell Evans has some new and embarrassing and hard-to-read details after an audit was released yesterday. I anticipate things will get much more embarrassing until everything gets straightened out.

Richmond’s Planning Comission approved the 30% design phase plans for the BRT yesterday. They had a few recommendations, including switching the curb-running portions of the route (from 4th-14th) to median running. GRTC says this would add $1.8 million to the cost of the project. In this guy’s humble opinion, median-running BRT is the way to go, and eliminating the curb-running section would certainly improve the quality of the system. Where will we find the necessary two million bucks? I have no idea–especially after reading the previous paragraph.

Richmond Public Schools will close on Friday, September 25th due to the Big Bike Race™, Ned Oliver reports. I am reporting that my Big Bike Race™ hangout plans for that Friday have been updated to include my school-age child, which I’m pretty stoked about. Remember, you can see every single one of the road closings on Richmond 2015’s website.

The City will officially open the new bike lanes on the Manchester bridge today with a little ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:00 AM and also provide some updates as to what’s been going on with Richmond’s ever-growing bike infrastructure. Which, speaking of, I wrote up a quick thing yesterday about the new bike lanes in the Northside, and the Sports Backers have a good photo roundup of everything else that’s been going on around town (as it pertains to bike lanes).

Brandon Fox has the news that Walter Bundy, the all-everything chef of Lemaire, will leave the city and open his own restaurant out by Southern Seasons on Staples Mill Road. One reason for the location: parking. Hmph.

Tim Kaine announced some new legislation that would hold folks responsible if they sold or transferred a gun to someone who is barred by federal law from possessing a firearm.

Vox helped me understand why people are fleeing Syria (almost half of the country’s population has been displaced).

Today at 1:00 PM, Apple will kickoff their annual iPhone event, which you can watch live on their website. It’s expected to be a biggie with rumors of a couple updated iPhones, larger iPads, a new Apple TV, and a new operating system for the Apple Watch.


  • Nats look to avoid the sweep against the Mets tonight, game starts at 7:05 PM.

This morning’s longread

Explainer: The Transit Ridership Recipe

This article should be required reading for anyone who spends lots of their day thinking about buses and the BRT. That’s most of you, right?

Commentators sometimes criticize transit authorities for low ridership, as though transit were a failing business.  But transit authorities are rarely directed to maximize ridership as their primary goal, so they’re not failing if they don’t.  In democracies, whoever makes the decisions for a transit authority is accountable to voters.  These officials listen to their constituents, and sometimes decide that to some degree, low-ridership services are necessary and important.  This is usually because either (a) someone feels entitled to service (“We pay taxes too!”) or (b) someone needs the service really badly (“If you cut this bus, we’ll be trapped.”).  Those can both be valid government purposes, but they lead to the creation of services where ridership is not the objective.  The objective, instead, is to satisfy (a) and/or (b) above.

Services whose purpose is not ridership are called coverage services — or at least I’ve been calling them that for over a decade and the term is catching on. Coverage is an apt term because the result is usually to spread out service over a vast area so that everyone gets a little bit, no matter where they live.  
However, spreading it out means spreading it thin.  Any fixed service budget, divided over such a huge number of routes, yields low frequency, maybe a bus once an hour, and not many people find that useful for reasons we’ll explore below.  So ridership is usually low on these services, exactly as we network designers expect.  But since ridership isn’t the purpose, that can be fine.

This morning’s Instagram

Capitol View

A photo posted by @michchron on

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Ross Catrow

Founder and publisher of RVANews.

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