Tag Archives: Hampton Roads Transit

HART & HRT Service Changes – Effective 10/08/17

Sunday, October 8, 2017 is just around the corner, and there is much to talk about in this post. In addition to Hillsborough Area Regional Transit’s systemwide restructuring – called Mission MAX – Hampton Roads Transit is also enacting its own changes on the same day. HRT is also undergoing its own Transit Development Plan update and is considering undergoing a similar system restructuring to that of HART. I’ll delve more into HRT in a few moments, but first – let’s do one final rundown of the changes that we’re expecting to see on the HART system.


HART System Changes (Mission MAX)

HART has created a side-by-side comparison on which routes are changing, so that you’ll be able to easily see how each route operates now, versus after the restructuring takes effect. You can also view the summary list of the changes, an interactive system map – powered by Remix, and the new static system map. If you go to the Maps & Schedules Page on the HART website, you’ll be able to scroll all the way to the bottom of the routes drop-down menu to see the new schedules. Additionally, you can begin planning out how your new commute will shape up by going to Google Maps and using their transit trip planner. I have step-by-step instructions on how to use Google Maps’ transit trip planner, but you will want to do a couple of things before you begin mapping out your trip.

Does everything that I just wrote sound confusing? If so, let me break things down a bit:

  • A summary list of the changes is available on the HART website. This list goes through how each route is changing.
  • To view the new schedules for each individual HART route, simply go to the Maps & Schedules Page on the HART website, and select the routes drop-down menu on the left. Once you’ve opened up the drop-down menu, scroll all the way down to where you see “HART Service Changes, Effective: 10/8/17 – Coming Soon”. Beneath that divider, you will be able to view the new schedules.
  • You can view a side-by-side comparison of how each HART route looks like today, versus how they will look like after the restructuring takes effect. This tool is very helpful in determining how your commute will be impacted.
  • The new static system map will show how the entire HART system will look once the changes are in place.
  • You can also view an interactive system map that shows where each route travels to and from, as well as stop placement. The map is powered by Remix, which is a very powerful tool for transit agencies to use for planning – whether it be a large scale restructuring like what HART is doing, or a routine round of service changes. I’ve actually used the interactive mapping features when they were in demo mode (and open for general public use), and I can definitely see why many transit agencies like to use Remix as a tool for their transit system planning needs.
  • Lastly, you can go over to Google Maps and use their transit planning feature to view how your commute will shape up once the restructuring takes effect.
    • Simply click the blue diamond “directions” button on the upper left-hand corner of the page. Then, type the address of where you’re coming from and the address of where you’re going to.
    • Once your itinerary is mapped out, select the “train” icon at the top to launch the transit option.
    • Under the transit option, select the drop-down menu that reads “Leave Now”, and change it to “Depart at” or “Arrive by”, then change the date field to 10/8/17 or a date thereafter, and your desired arrival or departure time.
    • Now you can see which route options are available to you once the restructuring takes effect. You customize your commute further by using the “Schedule Explorer” tool on the bottom left if you wish.

If you have further questions about HART’s Mission MAX restructuring, please do not hesitate to reach out to them by calling (813)-254-4278, visiting the HART website, or reaching out to them via Social Media.


HRT System Changes

Now, let’s take a look at what HRT has in store for October 8, 2017. These changes are not as radical as Mission MAX, but as I mentioned earlier, HRT is working on its own TDP update, which calls for a systemwide examination of its services.


Changes taking effect in the Southside (Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, & Virginia Beach)

  • Route 2: The current detour on Route 2 will become permanent. No service will be provided to Naval Station Norfolk. The route will terminate at the NEX Mall. Schedule adjustments will be made.
  • Route 3: Minor schedule adjustments to improve adherence.
  • Route 21: The current detour on Route 21 will become permanent. No service will be provided to Naval Station Norfolk after 6:30 pm Monday through Friday. No service will be provided on weekends. The route will terminate at the NEX Mall. Schedule adjustments will be made.
  • Route 25: The route will be modified to provide service to Sentara Princess Anne Medical Complex. Service will be discontinued to the Municipal Center via Route 25. Service to the Municipal Center will be provided by Route 33.

  • Route 33: Minor schedule adjustments to improve adherence.

Changes taking effect in the Northside (Newport News & Hampton)

  • No changes are planned for this service change cycle.

Changes taking effect on the Express Routes

  • Route 919: All evening trips revised due to closure of Bainbridge Avenue and Franklin Street.
  • Route 922: The following morning trips will be discontinued due to low ridership:
    • 5:15 AM
    • 6:45 AM
    • All evening trips revised due to closure of Bainbridge Avenue and Franklin Street.

  • Route 960: The route will be revised to service Newtown Station. Service will be discontinued to Silverleaf Commuter Station. Route 960 will operate between Downtown Norfolk Transit Center and Arctic Avenue/19th Street with a stop at Newtown Station.

  • Route 965: All evening trips revised due to closure of Bainbridge Avenue and Franklin Street.


HRT Fare Changes

In 2014, HRT approved a two-phased systemwide fare increase, with the first phase taking effect October, 2014. With this second phase, the one-way base fare for local routes will be brought from $1.75 to $2.00, which is the same level that HART charges for a one-way local & limited express fare. The fare increase was conducted as a two-phased approach so that customers would not be negatively impacted by a single slew of fare increases all at once.

The new fares will take effect on Sunday, October 1, 2017

For a rundown of the new fares and frequently asked questions, please visit the HRT website.


HRT Transit Development Plan (TDP)

HRT is currently working on completing its TDP and is asking for public input. Two meetings will be held., one tonight and the other on Saturday, September 23, 2017. This TDP update calls for a systemwide examination of current services and recommends eliminating lower ridership routes and segments to pave the way for new services to higher demand areas. To view the recommendations and to provide comment, please visit the HRT website.


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Changes to the HRT Virginia Beach WAVE Trolley/Shuttle

May is only about a month away! Which means summer will not be far behind it. With tourist season approaching for the Virginia Beach area, Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) is announcing changes to the Virginia Beach WAVE seasonal trolley service. Below is a quick summary of what changes are in store for this year.


Route 30 – Atlantic Ave Trolley

Route 31 will continue to operate in its normal fashion beginning May 1, 2017. Between May 1 and May 21, trolleys will operate roughly every 30 to 45 minutes. From May 22 through Labor Day, regular summer service will begin with trolleys operating roughly every 15 minutes. Between Labor Day and September 30, service will begin winding down for the season with trolleys operating roughly every 30 to 45 minutes. Span of service is from 8:00am until 2:00am (the next morning) 7-days-a-week.


Route 32 – Aquarium and Campground Shuttle

Route 32 will also continue to operate in its normal fashion, with service beginning May 22 and running through Labor Day. Buses will operate roughly every 20 minutes 7-days-a-week, from 9:30am until 11:10pm. Note: The Virginia Aquarium and Ocean Breeze stops are only serviced during normal business hours.


Route 33 – Shoppers Shuttle (ELIMINATED)

Due to ultra-low ridership, HRT has eliminated the Shoppers Shuttle service. Those wishing to connect between the Virginia Beach Oceanfront and the Virginia Beach shopping/mall district can do so via the following alternative bus routes.

  • Route 20 connects to the Hilltop Shopping District with 30-minute service Monday through Saturday and hourly Sunday service+. Those wishing to travel to Lynnhaven Mall can transfer to Route 29 at Laskin Rd and First Colonial Rd. Route 29 operates Monday through Saturday with hourly service.
  • Express (MAX) Route 960 connects to the Virginia Beach Convention Center via the Parks Ave/20th St stop. Those wishing to visit the Virginia Beach Museum of Contemporary Art (M.O.C.A.) can get off at this stop and walk northward to the museum.

*VB WAVE Routes 30 and 31 will continue to provide service to Rudee Inlet
+Route 20 continues to Norfolk with 15-30 minute service between Downtown Norfolk and Pembroke East on weekdays (not all trips go all the way to the Oceanfront during rush hours). Be sure that you’re boarding the correct bus if you’re traveling from Norfolk to the Oceanfront.


Route 35 – North End Shuttle (NEW)

Route 35 will be introduced to serve First Landing State Park, the North End beaches, and the various eateries along Shore Dr. Service will operate 7-days-a-week from May 22 until Labor Day, with buses running roughly every 45 minutes from 8:00am through 12-midnight. After Labor Day, buses will operate Friday through Sunday only with 45-minute service from 8:00am through 12-midnight.

Please see the map below to see where the 35 will operate.

Route-35.jpg
Source: HRT

Additional Information

For additional information, including fares, please visit HRT’s website.


Website Updates

The VB WAVE Information Page on the Global Transit Guidebook will be updated soon.


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LYNX and HRT Service Changes – Effective 8/28/16

LYNX-HRT August 2016 Service Changes 1

Beginning Sunday, August 28, 2016, the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX) and Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) will enact various service changes throughout their respective systems. Please read carefully through the following changes. Further details – including route schedules – can be found on the transit agency’s website.


LYNX August 2016 Service Changes

HRT August 2016 Service Changes


 LYNX

FYI: LYNX refers to their bus routes as “links”

New Routes

  • Link 320  Avalon Park Schools Connector – New weekday service from Alafaya Trail/East Colonial Drive to East Colonial Drive/Chuluota Road and Avalon Park providing service to the Econ River High Charter School. Service began on August 15.

Routing Adjustments

  • Link 10 – East U.S. 192/St. Cloud (Osceola County) – Eastbound buses will operate on Orange Avenue instead of Grape Avenue between 10th Street and U.S. 192. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments.
  • Link 24  Millenia (Orange County) – Westbound buses on Oak Ridge Road will operate via International Drive, Altamira Drive, Adrianna Avenue and Oak Ridge Road to the Orlando Premium Outlets International Drive. Eastbound buses will now operate via Oak Ridge Road to Millenia Boulevard. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments.
  • Link 31 – LYMMO Orange-Downtown (Orange County) – While being the “original” LYMMO circulator line, the route’s numbering has been inconsistent with the three subsequent LYMMO routes that have 60-series route numbers. As a result, LYNX is re-designating this route as Link 60 (LYMMO Orange-Downtown).
  • Link 62 – LYMMO Grapefruit (Orange County) – Layover location will be moved to E. Church Street/S. Magnolia Avenue. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments.
  • Link 63  LYMMO North Quarter Line (Orange County) – The current bus stop on N. Orange Avenue/Concord Street will be moved north to N. Orange Avenue between Colonial Drive and Concord Street.
  • FastLink 407 – Kissimmee/Medical City/Orlando International Airport (Osceola County/Orange County) – The direction of travel will change for this route. Trips from the LYNX Kissimmee Intermodal Station will serve Orlando International Airport (OIA) before Medical City and then reverse on the trips from Medical City to the LYNX Kissimmee Intermodal Station. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments.

Trip Adjustments/Additions/Eliminations

  • Link 6  Dixie Belle Drive (Orange County) – The Weekday/Saturday 5:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. trips, as well as the Saturday trips from Dixie Belle Drive/Gatlin Avenue, the 4:55 a.m. weekday; and 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday trips from Colonial Plaza SuperStop will all be eliminated. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments.
  • Link 8 – W. Oak Ridge Road/International Drive (Orange County) – A trip at 6:05 a.m. on Weekdays and Saturdays will be added, as well as a 5:15 a.m. trip on Sundays – all from LYNX Central Station. A 4:14 p.m. Weekday, 5:15 p.m. Saturday, and 4:48 p.m. Sunday trips will be added from Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments.
  • Link 23  Winter Park/Springs Plaza (Orange County) – The Saturday 5:40 a.m. trip from Denning Drive/Webster Avenue and the 5:45 a.m. trip from Springs Plaza will be eliminated.
  • Link 37 – Pine Hills/Florida Mall (Orange County) – A 5:55 a.m. weekday trip, as well as 7 and 8 a.m. Sunday trips will be added from Silver Star Road and Hiawassee Road. 3:10 p.m., 4:10 p.m., and 5:10 p.m. trips will be added on Weekdays; and 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. trips will be added on Sundays – all from Florida Mall. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments.
  • Link 40  Americana Blvd./Universal Orlando (Orange County) – The 4 a.m. Saturday and 4:45 a.m. Sunday trips from LYNX Central Station will be eliminated.
  • Link 102  Orange Avenue/South 17-92 (Orange County) – The 4:45 a.m. weekday trip from LYNX Central Station will be eliminated, as well as the 10:28 p.m. Sunday trip from Fernwood Boulevard and Oxford Road. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments.
  • Link 106 – N. U.S. 441/Apopka (Orange County) – The 1 a.m. weekday trip from Apopka SuperStop will be eliminated. A 4:25 a.m. Weekday and a 4:50 a.m. Sunday trip from Apopka SuperStop will be added. A 9:45 p.m. Saturday and a 7:45 p.m. Sunday trip from LYNX Central Station will also be added. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments..
  • Link 107 – U.S. 441/Orlando Florida Mall (Orange County) – A 9:15 p.m. trip on Sunday from LYNX Central Station will be added. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments.
  • Link 313 – Winter Park (Orange County) – The 7:40 p.m. weekday, 6:39 a.m. and 7:33 p.m. Saturday trips from Florida Hospital will be eliminated, as well as the 6:45 a.m. Saturday trip from LYNX Central Station.
  • FastLink 418 – Florida Mall/Meadow Woods/Lake Nona (Orange County) – The 7:30 p.m. weekday and Saturday trip from the VA Hospital will be eliminated. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments.

Minor Scheduling Adjustments

The following routes will see minor scheduling changes – many of which include changes to timepoints and/or running times.

  • Link 3 – Lake Margaret Drive (Orange County)
  • Link 9 – Winter Park/Rosemont (Orange County)
  • Link 20  Malibu Street/Mercy Drive (Orange County)
  • Link 26  Pleasant Hill Road/Poinciana (Osceola County)
  • Link 28 – E. Colonial Drive/Azalea Park (Orange County)
  • Link 29 – E. Colonial Drive/Goldenrod Road (Orange County)
  • Link 44 – Hiawassee Road/Zellwood (Orange County)
  • Link 50 – Downtown Orlando/Magic Kingdom (Orange County)
  • Link 54 – Old Winter Garden Road (Orange County)
  • Link 108 – S. U.S. 441/Kissimmee (Orange County/Osceola County)
  • Link 434 – SR 434 Crosstown (Orange County/Seminole County)
  • Link 436N – SR 436 Crosstown (Orange County/Seminole County)
  • NeighborLink 652 – Maitland Center (Orange County)

HRT

New Routes

  • Route 55 – Greenbrier Circulator (Southside) – New Monday through Saturday service from Greenbrier Mall to Robert Hall Blvd via Crossways Blvd.
  • Route 968 – MAX (Express) – Silverleaf Park-N-Ride / DoD Suffolk – New express route will provide service between Silverleaf Park-N-Ride to the Joint Staff Compound in Suffolk. There will be two AM trips leaving Silverleaf (6:00, 6:30) and two PM trips leaving the Compound (3:40, 4:10).
  • Route 969 – MAX (Express) – Indian River Park-N-Ride / DoD Suffolk – New express route will provide service between Indian River/Greenbrier Park-N-Ride to the Joint Staff Compound in Suffolk. There will be two AM trips leaving Indian River(6:11, 6:30) and two PM leaving the Compound (3:40, 4:10).

Route Eliminations

  • Route 427 – Denbigh Midnight (Northside) – Route discontinued due to low ridership. Note, this was a lone commuter run that began its trip at about 12:00am, hence the route’s name.

Routing Adjustments

  • Route 14 – Robert Hall Blvd / TCC Chesapeake (Southside) – Route has been revised to service TCC Chesapeake in one direction only.
  • Route 111 – Thomas Nelson Community College / Riverside Regional (Northside) – Route modified to provide service between Patrick Henry Mall and Fishing Point via Canon Blvd.Hourly service to the Newport News/Williamsburg Airport, Mary Immaculate Hospital and Riverside Convalescent Center removed from the Route 111.  Hourly service to the airport will now be provided by Route 116. Hourly service to Mary Immaculate and Riverside Convalescent center will be provided by the Route 107.
  • Route 116 – Lee Hall / Patrick Henry Mall (Northside) – Route revised to provide service to Newport News/Williamsburg Airport. Service frequency will also change from 70 minutes to 60 minutes.
  • Route 119 – Fishing Point Dr/Riverside Regional Medical Center (Northside) – Service to the Canon facility will be discontinued. Route 111 will provide service to Canon Blvd.
  • Route 121 – Newport News Transportation Center / Williamsburg (Northside) – Boarding/Disembarking for for this route at NNTC will now be done on Washington Ave between 34th and 35th St. (In front of the clock tower)
  • Route 966 – MAX (Express) – Silverleaf Park-N-Ride / Newport News Transit Center – Boarding/Disembarking for this route at NNTC will now be done on Washington Ave between 34th and 35th St. (In front of the clock tower). Schedule has also been adjusted to start service from Silverleaf at 5:40 AM.

Trip Adjustments/Additions/Eliminations

  • Route 15 – Evelyn T. Butts Ave / Robert Hall Blvd (Southside) – Service to Greenbrier Mall, Monday – Friday limited only to after 7:30 PM; service to Greenbrier before 7:30 PM, will be provided by Route 55. Service to Robert Hall also increased to every 30 minutes.
  • Route 103 – Downtown Newport News / Downtown Hampton (Northside) – Weekdays and Saturdays, after 8:00 PM service frequency will be changed from every 45 minutes to hourly.  Sunday service will be hourly.
  • Route 104 – Downtown Newport News / Newmarket (Northside) – Weekdays and Saturdays, after 8:00 PM service frequency will be changed from every 30 minutes to hourly. Sunday service will be hourly.
  • Route 108 – Patrick Henry Mall / Lee Hall (Northside) – Service frequency will change from 70 minutes to 60 minutes.
  • Route 918 – MAX (Express) – Silverleaf Park-N-Ride to Lafayette River Annex/Gate 4 – Due to low ridership, service will be reduced to one AM trip (6:00) and one PM trip (4:15).
  • Route 961 – MAX (Express) – Norfolk to Hampton to Newport News – New 4:00 PM trip from NNTC to DNTC via Evelyn T Butts.

Minor Scheduling Adjustments

The following routes will see minor scheduling changes – many of which include changes to timepoints and/or running times.

  • Route 12 – South Norfolk / TCC-Virginia Beach (Southside)
  • Route 23 – Norfolk General / Military Circle / Janaf (Southside)
  • Route 109 – Downtown Hampton / Buckroe (Northside)
  • Route 112 – Downtown Newport News / Patrick Henry Mall (Northside)
  • Route 115 – Buckroe / Downtown Hampton (Northside)
  • Route 403 – Buckroe Shopping Center (Northside)
  • Route 414 – NNTC/Jefferson/Oakland (Northside)
  • Route 415 – NNTC/Denbigh (Northside)
  • Route 430 – Denbigh Fringe (Northside)

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FRIDAY REWIND – 2013 visit to Norfolk, VA

Friday Rewind New 1

Two years ago this month, I took a trip to Norfolk and Virginia Beach, VA to visit relatives and to embark on my first ride along a light rail line. In this Friday Rewind post, I will reflect back on my experience in Hampton Roads and how the area is pushing for more transportation choices,

In many respects, Norfolk, VA is very similar to Tampa, FL. Both have similarly structured bus systems that utilize Gillig transit buses, and both transit districts; HART and HRT, are facing the same budgetary issues when it comes to maintaining what they have, as well as trying to expand service wherever they can. Both cities have also had old style streetcar systems in the past, both of which were later dismantled. One key difference though, is that Hampton Roads does not have the type of street grid that Tampa Bay has. Most streets in Virginia Beach for instance, are spider web type, which means that roads either radiate around a central point or zig zag in multiple directions. This makes it much harder to run buses, especially routes with are crucial for employment centers. Another difference is that Norfolk has been able to build its starter light rail line, something that Tampa has been vying to do for many years, and may finally have a real chance of modernizing its heritage streetcar system in the coming years.

Reflections Tour

Now, let me take you through what I was able to experience while in Norfolk last April…

Train #401 departs towards downtown Norfolk. Photo taken by HARTride 2012. April, 2013.
Train #401 departs towards downtown Norfolk. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012. April, 2013.

Ballentine Blvd

I first parked my car at the Ballentine/Broad Creek Park-and-Ride Lot, just next to the Ballentine/Broad Creek LRT Station. My original plan was to actually use the Military Hwy Park-and-Ride Lot, but I ended up wanting to go just a bit closer to the Norfolk State University Campus, where I could feel the historical charm of the entire city of Norfolk. These two Park-and-Ride lots are two of the four that Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) provides to its customers to allow them to use light rail to get to downtown, instead of hassling with city parking. The other two lots are located at Harbor Park (next to the Harbor Park Stadium) and the Newtown Rd terminus.

Once at the LRT station, I purchased a one-day GoPass that would allow me to ride the bus system and the LRT. I then snapped some photos of the surrounding area as I waited for the next train to arrive. The train shown in this photo arrived just as I walked up to the station. The next train arrived about 15 minutes later. Since this was a Saturday that I rode the train,the frequency of trains was at every 15 minutes.

Heading into downtown

Once onboard the train, I quickly took in the sights of the urban landscape and the sounds of the train rolling along, with automated announcements guiding customers to each station. I’ve noticed that the sound that the Siemens S70 LRV trains make as they pull in and out of each station is very similar to how the Alstom/Bombardier MF 2001 subway trains and Citadis LRV trains in Paris sound like as they arrive and depart. I also liked how sleek, clean, and modern the trains are, as I’ve always been fascinated with modern buses and trains. There are only a handful of light rail lines in the US that still use older, non-articulated types of LRV trains. One of those lines I’ve learned is located in Buffalo, NY. Actually, their system is an LRT/Pre-Metro line, which I’ll profile in a future post.

The track as it meanders through downtown Norfolk. Photo taken by HARTride 2012. April, 2013.
The track as it meanders through downtown Norfolk. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012. April, 2013.

MacArthur Square

Once getting off the train, I quickly took in the sights and sounds of the heart of downtown Norfolk, specifically MacArthur Square. This wonderful urban space includes green space that surrounds the current LRT station. I understand that during the construction of the Tide LRT, a couple of buildings along Main St had to be demolished to make way for the stations and track. To the northeast of the MacArthur Square LRT station is the Douglas MacArthur Memorial statue and museum. The building that houses the museum was originally the Norfolk City Hall. The current city hall is located at a small complex of buildings near the Elizabeth River that are a part of Norfolk Civic Plaza. There is also an LRT stop at the Civic Plaza complex.

 The MacArthur Center

To the north of the station is the MacArthur Center Mall, which I would say is a “watered down” version of Tampa’s International Plaza. The complex comprises of trendy stores like Abercrombie & Fitch, Forever 21, and H&M, as well as higher-end stores like Nordstrom.  Despite the mall’s relatively small footprint, it’s still a great place to visit if you have some extra time to shop and drop. And why battle for a parking space, when you can easily take the train into downtown?

The western fringe of downtown Norfolk. Photo taken by HARTride 2012 in April, 2013.
The western fringe of downtown Norfolk. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012 in April, 2013.

Walking through Norfolk

After visiting the mall, I decided to take a northwestward stroll through downtown and its flanking residential district to the west. The old charm of the multi-story apartment buildings really makes Norfolk a pretty neat place to live. There’s a good variety of parks, attractions, and museums to visit, as well as lots of shops and eateries to stop by at. The Virginia Beach Expressway provides quick access to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, and there’s plenty of opportunities to spend time with nature, including the Norfolk Botanical Gardens.

Proceeding northwestward, I came across the the Fort Norfolk area, just bordering the historic Granby district to the north and downtown Norfolk to the east. This area encompasses many healthcare complexes, including the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and the Eastern Virginia Medical Center (EVMC). This area also serves as the current western terminus for the Tide LRT. A little further west of this point is a ton of rail yards and industrial shipping docks.

I then proceeded northward towards the historic Granby district, where many centuries-old housing are located. A little further north of where I traveled is Old Dominion University, which is the second major college campus in the Norfolk area. I was really taken away by the unique charm of the older homes and beautiful landscaping. I even got to witness one of the area residents manicuring her wonderful bed of tulips, and these were pretty large tulips too! As I proceeded through the historic Granby district, I was taken even more into the historic charm that Norfolk has to offer, without all the nightclub hubub of Ybor City.

The Return Trip

Finishing up my wonderful walk through the Granby district, I stumbled upon the Cedar Grove Transfer Center, located along Princess Anne Rd and Salter St. On July 7, 2013, all transfer center operations moved to an interim terminal along Wood St, just steps away from the Norfolk Scope Arena. Cedar Grove reminds me a lot of the makeshift bus depot that HART once had at the former Tampa Bay Center Mall, because Cedar Grove is nothing more than a parking lot with a few bus shelters on one side. There were no restrooms or other facilities at the site either. Eventually, a new, modern bus terminal will be built in downtown Norfolk, equipped with restrooms.

It took me a while to locate a bus route that would get me back to the Tide LRT line, but I did manage to locate the shelter for Local Bus Route 44, which travels towards Fort Norfolk in the southbound direction. As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, HRT’s bus fleet primarily comprises of Gillig Low Floor buses. These buses have either a white or grey livery with waves at the bottom. The interiors are a lot like the 2001 series buses that both HART and PSTA have, but with primarily blue colors.

With the height of the afternoon coming to a close, I decided start heading back to Broad Creek so that I could meet up with my family for dinner. Upon arrival to the EVMC/Fort Norfolk LRT station, the train had already arrived and was awaiting departure. I rode the train all the way back to the Ballentine/Broad Creek LRT station and took a few more photos along the way.

What’s next for public transit in Hampton Roads

If you missed my last few posts on The Tide, then you’ve missed quite a bit. Right now, the fight is on to extend the light rail line into Virginia Beach, specifically Town Center or Rosemont. The ongoing transit extension study has taken many twists and turns throughout the past several months, and now it’s come down to the wire as Virginia Beach city leaders decide on the next stage of the study. Unfortunately, the rail haters have mobilized and are threatening to kill off the entire process by convincing the Virginia Beach City Council to go for the dreaded “No Build” option instead of selecting a Locally Preferred Alternative for the ongoing transit extension study. If this happens, Virginia Beach stands to be set back anywhere from 20 to 50 years when it comes to public transit and providing better transportation choices. Any such setback will also jeopardize the Naval Station Norfolk extension study, as well as other transit expansion efforts in the area.

HRT Snow Routes

image
Photo Credit: Hampton Roads Transit (HRT)

Back in December, I told you about Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) working on a system of Snow Routes, designed to provide basic bus services in the event that sustained snowfall is forecasted to exceed six inches.

In the last few weeks, HRT has unveiled those Snow Routes and installed blue “snowflake” signs at designated bus stops. The routes themselves are designated by color and will operate every hour (unless otherwise indicated) between 6:00am and 8:00pm Monday through Saturday. Sunday service will NOT be provided.

Now keep in mind, these Snow Routes will only be activated if sustained snowfall is to exceed six inches. Usually such circumstances will warrant schools and many other government facilities to close due to many streets being impassable. Additionally, many transit agencies, including HRT, do not have the resources available to clear streets on their own. This is left to the responsibility of the area municipal governments (usually the Public Works Department) to ensure that all streets are cleared of snow and ice. What this does do though, is that the plowing/clearing of thoroughfares is prioritized so that buses can move through quickly.

In events by which the snow routes are not activated, HRT will operate normal transit service to the fullest extent it can while ensuring the safety of customers and employees. There will no doubt be delays and detours, and customers should always arrive at their stop early to ensure on-time boarding. Additionally, customers stay tuned to local media outlets and social media for updates. Customers can also contact Customer Service (when open) for information, but keep in mind that operations may be limited during major weather events.

HRT will exercise caution when operating light rail and ferry services and will decrease or suspend services if weather conditions worsen. Customers should plan accordingly.

Further information on HRT’s Snow Routes and other weather related transit procedures can be found on HRT’s website.

HRT DNTC moving back to “regular” interim spot

Due to construction, the Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) Downtown Norfolk Transit Center (DNTC) was temporarily moved over to Charlotte St. Now with that work wrapping up, the DNTC will move back to it’s “regular” interim location on Wood St on Wednesday, February 11, 2015.

More information can be found on HRT’s website.

Downtown Norfolk, VA Transit Center to temporarily relocate

Post Updated on 1/19/15.

ATTENTION HAMPTON ROADS TRANSIT (HRT) CUSTOMERS: If you transfer out of downtown Norfolk, then you’ll want to pay close attention to what will be happening towards the end of this month. On Monday, January 26, 2015, all stops at the makeshift Downtown Norfolk Transit Center will move one block over to the west due to construction activities at the site. This temporary relocation will be in effect until further notice. Please see the map below for details.

NOTE: Map has been revised by HRT.

Credit: Hampton Roads Transit (HRT).
Credit: Hampton Roads Transit (HRT).

As indicated in RED, all stops at the current makeshift terminal at Wood St will temporarily move to E Charlotte St and Montecello Ave. Most local routes will board and de-board in the BLUE area along E Charlotte St. Local Route 2 and Express Routes 960 and 961 will board and de-board in the GREEN area along Monticello Ave. The BLACK area indicated on the map is a staging area for buses, and customers SHOULD NOT ATTEMPT TO BOARD A BUS FROM THIS LOCATION. Please keep in mind that these changes may adversely impact your transfer to adjoining bus routes, as well as The Tide Light Rail Line nearby, so please be sure to plan accordingly.

Any questions or concerns about these changes should be directed to HRT.

Say What? The City of Norfolk is defunding HRT Route 16?

Under the transit revision proposal by Hampton Roads Transit, Routes 44 and 45 could see a boost in frequency while routes deemed as under performers are in danger of being axed. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.
Under the transit revision proposal by Hampton Roads Transit, Routes 44 and 45 could see a boost in frequency while routes deemed as under performers are in danger of being axed. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

Almost a year ago, Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) announced that they would revise the Route 17 (formerly known as the Norfolk NET) into a one-way loop around the downtown Norfolk area. This change coincided with the move of the downtown bus transfer hub from Cedar Grove to an interim location along Wood St.

Now, there’s word that during the March Norfolk City Council meeting, which was held on March 25 (meeting agenda | HRT presentation slides | [YouTube] video of the meeting), city leaders decided to pull funding from Route 17, as well as Route 16. This surprise decision has angered some riders, including those who depend on Route 16 to get to and from the Old Dominion University (ODU) Campus. To say the least, I am definitely NOT HAPPY by this move. as it brings forth a huge inconvenience to those who rely on certain routes to make connections and get to their final destination on time. These cuts will also force customers to have to walk further to get to a bus stop, especially in times of inclement weather and high traffic periods on the roadways.

For me personally, these cutbacks bring back haunting memories of when Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART)’s Route 7 had its weekday frequency north of the Hillsborough Community College Dale Mabry campus reduced from 30-minute headways to 60-minute headways in 2007 due to budget cuts. Several other routes were axed or reduced/re-aligned during that cycle as well, including the Route 98 Trolleybus between Hyde Park and Downtown Tampa (which was cut due to ultra-low ridership).

Routes that could be eliminated

A Hillsborough Area Regional Transit bus runs Route 7 by the Hillsborough Community College Dale Mabry Campus in Tampa. Back in 2007, Route 7's weekday frequency was reduced on its northwestern segment due to budgetary constraints and relatively low ridership. However, the reductions have hurt service going to and from the college campus. Could Norfolk's Old Dominion University soon be seeing an even worse fate with its direct bus line, Route 16? Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.
A Hillsborough Area Regional Transit bus runs Route 7 by the Hillsborough Community College Dale Mabry Campus in Tampa. Back in 2007, Route 7’s weekday frequency was reduced on its northwestern segment due to budgetary constraints and relatively low ridership. However, the reductions have hurt service going to and from the college campus, with buses arriving at unevenly spaced times and confusion as to which bus is going in which direction. Could Norfolk’s Old Dominion University soon be seeing an even worse fate with its direct bus line, Route 16, in danger of being eliminated? Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

Changes to all HRT routes mentioned in this post are slated to take effect during the July 6, 2014 markup cycle, with Routes 16, 17, 28, and 412 all slated to be eliminated due to funding issues and/or low ridership (see a Google Map I made of the affected routes). One rider I spoke with noted that when HRT sent route surveyors onto Route 16, they did so during times when the ODU campus was on winter and spring break. Now if that is truly the case, then SHAME ON YOU HRT!

Something that a rider mentioned to me was that Routes 16 and 17 are being eliminated in order for the city to provide funding for the increased services on Routes 44 and 45, which are receiving improvements as part of HRT’s agreement with Elizabeth River Tunnels. From what I’ve learned from watching the video of the council meeting, since capital contributions by the HRT member municipalities isn’t increasing this fiscal year, I guess HRT has found an way to “balance the budget” while trying to shove the route eliminations underneath the radar (that is from public eyes).

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, Route 17, the downtown Norfolk circulator that has seen various changes over the years, is also slated for elimination. Originaly known as the Norfolk NET, which stands for Norfolk Electric Transit, has used hybrid-drive buses, and originally began with a small fleet of electric-powered buses (those latter buses didn’t quite work out for HRT). The route was altered following the opening of the Tide Light Rail Line in 2011 and has seen further changes made to it since then. The route currently has adjoining routes that run very close to it, and has thus been deemed as a duplication of service in the downtown area.

Two other HRT routes that are also slated for elimination include Route 28, which is a Norfolk/Virginia Beach Limited Stop route that has not been well planned from the start (as they don’t utilize specialized buses or anything to distinguish the route from local routes), and Route 412, which is an under-utilized portion of the Peninsula Commuter Service that has seen most of its riders utilize Paratransit services instead (one rider told me that virtually 99% of would-be Route 412 riders utilize Paratransit servces in the area). There are also several local routes in the area where Route 412 runs. I will discuss more about Route 28 in a future blog post about Limited Stop routes.

Changes to routes affected by the Elizabeth River Tunnels Agreement

Also on the chopping block is Route 17, the downtown Norfolk circulator. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.
Also on the chopping block is Route 17, the downtown Norfolk circulator. HRT has deemed the Route 17 as a duplication of downtown service due to its close proximity to neighboring local routes. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

As part of the agreement between HRT and the Elizabeth River Tunnels, which operate the Downtown and Midtown tunnels connecting Portsmouth to Norfolk (and is now charging AWESOME TOLLS TO BOTH TUNNELS, I say that sarcastically), Routes 44, 45, and 47 will all see some sort of change come July, either changes with schedules/timepoints/running times, and/or routing changes. This agreement allowed for the Elizabeth River Ferry to operate earlier hours on weekdays.

  • Route 44 will have its downtown Norfolk segment eliminated in favor of improvements on the Portsmouth side of the route. The new eastern terminus would be at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. However, there’s also word that the Eastern Virginia Medical Center loop will also be eliminated. IF THE LATTER CHANGE HOLDS TRUE, PASSENGERS WANTING TO CONNECT TO THE TIDE LIGHT RAIL (LRT) CAN KISS THAT CONNECTION GOODBYE!
  • Route 45 will keep its existing route, but have frequency improvements during rush hours (15-minute headways from 30-minute headways).
  • Route 47 will also keep its existing route, but have frequency improvements during rush hours (15-minute headways from 30-minute headways). This change will affect the segment between Crawford Street and Villiage/Academy.

Routes that could see reductions in service

If a plan to eliminate the Eastern Virginia Medical Center loop segment of Route 44 goes through, the direct connection between the bus route and the Tide LRT could be lost. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.
If a plan to eliminate the Eastern Virginia Medical Center loop segment of Route 44 goes through, the direct connection between the bus route and the Tide LRT could be lost, causing many customers to have to walk further to a connecting bus stop and wait longer to connect between buses and trains. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

Routes 2, 11, and 18 are all up on the table for some sort of service reduction, although no further details have been provided. This could mean a possible reduction in frequency and/or span of service.

What one rider is suggesting

Another rider I spoke with has come up with a suggestion that HRT should consider. That suggestion would be to merge portions of the 16 with another route. For instance, portions of Route 4 could be merged into the 16 to maintain ODU service while leaving critical portions of the 4 intact. I personally think that this would be a great idea because it would preserve such service to ODU.

Public Hearings on the matter

Due to rider concerns, HRT will be holding two public hearings to allow public input on the proposed elimination of Routes 16 and 17. Please see below of dates and locations.

  • Monday, April 14, from 6:00-7:30 PM, at the Park Place Multi-purpose Center, 606 W. 29th Street, Norfolk.
  • Thursday, April 17, from 6:00-7:30 PM, at the Tidewater Community College-Norfolk Student Center, 310 Granby Street, Norfolk.

Conclusion

Although it is normal for many transit districts to impose various changes throughout their respective systems, the proposal to eliminate Route 16 has come as a huge shock to many riders that depend on it to get around. I sure hope that HRT will reconsider eliminating the Route 16, in favor of modifying routes in the area to maintain service to the ODU campus.

DISCLAIMER

FOR PRIVACY REASONS, I AM NOT IDENTIFYING THE NAMES OF THE HRT BUS RIDERS I’VE SPOKEN WITH IN REGARDS TO THESE SERVICE CUTS. THANK YOU.

President’s Day Holiday Transit Schedule

Monday, February 17, 2014 is President’s Day. Unlike most Federal holidays, where transit services are typically limited to weekend-level services, most transit districts tend to operate on a typical weekday schedule on President’s Day, with some districts operating weekday services with modifications.

In the Tampa Bay Area, most area transit districts (HART, PSTA, MCAT, SCAT, and PCPT) will operate on a normal weekday schedule. This includes the TECOline Streetcar, HART MetroRapid, HART and PSTA flex bus services, and various trolleybus routes throughout the metro area.

In Polk County, both the Citrus Connection (Lakeland) and WHAT (Winter Haven) will NOT OPERATE. In Hernando County, THEbus will ALSO NOT OPERATE.

In the Hampton Roads Area, all HRT services (bus, LRT, and ferry) will operate on a normal weekday schedule. However, MAX (Express) routes 918, 919, 922, and 965 will NOT OPERATE. Additionally, the Naval Station Norfolk segment of Route 3 will be altered, and stops between Gate 4 and the Navy Exchange will NOT BE SERVED.

If you have any questions regarding holiday transit services, please contact your respective transit district for details. Customer service centers will be open normal hours (unless otherwise specified by the transit district). Customer service centers will NOT BE OPEN for those transit districts that ARE NOT OPERATING on President’s Day.

Transit Tourism – Norfolk, Virginia – Part 1

Westbound train headed towards the Eastern Virginia Medical Center. Photo taken by HARTride 2012. April, 2013.
One of the Tide Light Rail trains heading towards the Eastern Virginia Medical Center. Photo taken by HARTride 2012 on April 13, 2013.

Greetings everyone!

I recently took a vacation that included a weekend trip to the Hampton Roads, Virginia area to do some sightseeing and visit family in the area. During my stay there, I was able to utilize the transit system in downtown Norfolk, including the city’s light rail line. I’m going to document my observations and experience in three separate posts. In this first installment, I will describe the transit system in Hampton Roads and how the system is similar, yet different from the transit system here in Tampa. Then, in my second installment, I’ll document my transit experience and what the Tampa area can grasp from my observations. Finally, in my third installment, I will point out various attractions and other points of interest that you can easily access via public transit.

Continue reading Transit Tourism – Norfolk, Virginia – Part 1