Our History

Historic photo of the trackless trolleys in RichmondThe Richmond region has had public transit for over 150 years, making it one of the oldest continually operating transit companies in the United States.  

  • 1860 (March 29) – Richmond Railway organized. 
  • 1860 (August) – Richmond Railway operations began. 
  • 1863– Operations suspended due to the Civil War. 
  • 1866( January) – Joseph Jackson, Jr., acquired control of the company and resumed full operations the following March. 
  • 1881 (March 15) – Sold to Richmond City Railway Company. 
  • 1887 (March 23) – City Council adopted an ordinance granting a franchise to the Richmond Union Passenger Railway Company to operate an electric operated street railway system in Richmond.   This was to be  the first public electric streetcar system in the world.
  • 1887 (May 5) – Ground broken for laying rail. 
  • Passengers getting off Highland Park transit1888 (January 9) – Company opened its first electric line with six cars.  This first electric streetcar system served as a demonstration model for municipalities and countries from all over the world.
  • 1888 (May 8) – Continuous electric streetcar operation began and remained in effect until buses replaced streetcars. 
  • 1925 – Bus system purchased by Virginia Railway and Power Company; then purchased by Virginia Electric and Power Company. 
  • 1944 – Securities & Exchange Commission directed Virginia Electric and Power Company to confine activities to its electricity business. 
  • 1944 (December 29) – Virginia Transit Company purchased the transit systems in Richmond and Norfolk and took over operations. 
  • 1945 (July 1) – Virginia Transit Company becomes part of the United Transit Company. 
  • 1945 – Brownlee Curry appointed President of Virginia Transit Company.
  • 1946 – Waren Pollard appointed President of Virginia Transit Company.
  • 1947 (May) – Main Street and Westhampton Streetcar lines are motorized. Virginia Transit Company began conversion to motor business. 
  • 1949 (November 25)– Buses replace electric trolleys.  Ten streetcars make their last run. 
  • 1962 – American Transportation Enterprises, Inc. acquires controlling interest in United Transit Company.  
  • 1966 – Kenneth Bradshaw appointed President of Virginia Transit Company.
  • Bus riders speak with GRTC driver at stop in front of Butlers Shoes1967– Most of the fleet is air-conditioned. 
  • 1973 – Federal, state and local funds were used to purchase the assets of the Virginia Transit Company and a new public service company was set up, Greater Richmond Transit Company.  GRTC was wholly owned by the City of Richmond.  A one-half interest was later purchased by Chesterfield County.   Henrico County declined to purchase a portion at that time. 
  • 1973 – Henry Church appointed Chief Executive Officer of GRTC Transit System.
  • 1975– Service to Henrico County began. 
  • 1985– Trackless Trolleys introduced in the downtown area. 
  • 1993 – Rollo Axton appointed Chief Executive Officer of GRTC Transit System.
  • 1995– New color scheme of the purple and black swoop is chosen. 
  • 1996– Electric buses begin operating. 
  • 1997RideFinders and GRTC begin an association; CARE (Community Assisted Ride Enterprises) begins paratransit service. 
  • 1998– C-VAN implemented for welfare to work participants. 
  • 2001– Low-Floor Buses increase accessibility for individuals with disabilities and senior commuters; vans added to service; LINK service into Chesterfield County begins. 
  • 2002– Commuter Center is moved from 6th St. Marketplace to City Hall. 
  • 2003– Express service to Petersburg is launched.  Service in Henrico is extended to include VA Center Commons Mall and J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College.  GRTC introduces easy-to-use Local & Express Ride Guides. 
  • 2004 – Established a Reduced Fare Program for Senior passengers.
  • 2004 (December 6) – Lunch Time Express service begins in downtown Richmond. 
  • 2005 – GRTC launched the new Trip Planner in August.  Express service returned to Chesterfield.  GRTC fleet was equipped with Video Surveillance System.
  • 2005 – John Lewis appointed Chief Executive officer of GRTC Transit System.
  • 2007 (May 21) – GRTC launches Express service between Richmond and Fredericksburg.
  • 2007 (August 28) – GRTC breaks ground on their new Corporate Headquarters - Bus Maintenance Facility on Belt Boulevard.
  • 2008 – GRTC voted "Best Transit System in North America for 2008" by The American Public Transportation Association.
  • GRTC Transit System headquarters2010 – GRTC moves all operations into their new Corporate Office/Bus Maintenance Facility on Belt Boulevard.
  • 2010 – Elridge Coles appointed Chief Executive Officer of GRTC Transit System.
  • 2012 – GRTC adds first Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) powered vehicles to its CARE fleet.
  • 2013 (July) – GRTC adds first Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) powered vehicles to its fixed route fleet.
  • 2013  (October) – GRTC breaks ground for an on-site Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) pumping station.
  • 2013 – Charles Mitchell appointed interim Chief Executive Officer of GRTC Transit System.
  • 2014 – David Green appointed Chief Executive Officer of GRTC Transit System.