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. 
  • 1953 (November) – Diesel powered buses began operating.
  • 1957 (July) – The first air-conditioned buses – the “Frosty Fleet” – began operating.
  • 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.
  • 1973 – Henry Church appointed Chief Executive Officer of Greater Richmond Transit Company.
  • 1975 – Service to Henrico County began. 
  • 1985 – Trackless Trolleys introduced in the downtown area. 
  • 1993 – Rollo Axton appointed Chief Executive Officer of Greater Richmond Transit Company.
  • 1995 – New color scheme of the purple and black swoop is chosen. 
  • 1996 – Electric buses begin operating. 
  • 1997 – RideFinders and GRTC begin an association; CARE (Community Assisted Ride Enterprise) begins paratransit service.
  • 1998 – C-VAN (Central Virginia Area Network) implemented for welfare to work participants.
  • 2000 – Greater Richmond Transit Company became known as GRTC Transit System.
  • 2001 – Low-Floor buses increase accessibility for individuals with disabilities and senior commuters; LINK service into Chesterfield County begins as a 3-year pilot program.
  • 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. 
  • 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.  Fixed route scheduling software, GIRO was first implemented.
  • 2005 – John Lewis appointed Chief Executive officer of GRTC Transit System.
  • 2007 – Implemented CAD/AVL (GPS) technology on GRTC buses to provide real time bus information.
  • 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.  Commuter Coach buses went into operation.  Commuter Coach buses began service.
  • GRTC Transit System headquarters2010 – GRTC moves all operations into their new Corporate Office/Bus Maintenance Facility on Belt Boulevard.
  • 2010 – Eldridge Coles appointed Chief Executive Officer of GRTC Transit System.
  • 2012 – GRTC adds first Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) powered vehicles to its CARE fleet.
  • 2013 (March) – GRTC releases the official “GRTC Transit On The Go” mobile app for iPhone and Android.
  • 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) fueling station.
  • 2013 – Charles Mitchell appointed interim Chief Executive Officer of GRTC Transit System.
  • 2014 – David Green appointed Chief Executive Officer of GRTC Transit System.
  • 2014 (April) – CNG fueling station dedicated.  Temporary Transfer Plaza opens in downtown Richmond.
  • 2014 (Spring) - Broad Street Rapid Transit Study Completed.
  • 2014 (September) - GRTC receives notification of approval of TIGER grant.
  • 2014 (September 13) - Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announces TIGER Grant award to GRTC in the amount of $24.9M.