Norfolk NET Downtown Circulator (ELIMINATED)

A Norfolk NET bus stop sign. Photo taken by HARTride 2012 in April, 2013.
A Norfolk NET bus stop sign. Photo taken by HARTride 2012 in April, 2013.

SERVICE ADVISORY

AS OF JULY 6, 2014, ROUTE 17 IS NO LONGER IN SERVICE!!!

HRT HAS ELIMINATED THIS ROUTE DUE TO LOW RIDERSHIP AND DUPLICATION OF DOWNTOWN BUS SERVICE.

THIS PAGE IS ONLY BEING KEPT FOR INFORMATIONAL AND HISTORICAL REFERENCE. THANK YOU.

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Overview

The Norfolk NET Circulator (HRT Route 17) was a circulator bus route that traversed the streets of downtown Norfolk. The service was first established in 1999 as an effort to entice people visiting or residing in Norfolk to use transit to get to and from work, dining, entertainment, shopping, and other destinations within downtown. The name “NET”, which is short for “Norfolk Electric Transit” arose from the usage of electric-powered buses along the original route. These buses were later replaced by electric-diesel hybrid buses. Up until 2011, the NET was a fare-free service, and the route’s service area included portions of downtown that are now served by The Tide Light Rail Line. With the introduction of The Tide, HRT began to charge the regular bus fare of $1.50 for NET services.

Over the years, the routing of the NET has changed dramatically. At one point, a branch of the NET traversed between the former Cedar Grove Transfer Center, just north of downtown Norfolk, to the Easter Virginia Medical Center via Olney Rd. Route frequencies have also varied with service days, and changes to the route over time. Between 2011 and 2013, the downtown service operated as a bi-directional circulator route from the former Cedar Grove Transfer Center to Water Street, near the Waterside Festival Marketplace along the Elizabeth River, via Granby St.

When the Cedar Grove Transfer Center closed in July, 2013, the NET was revised to operate as a one-directional loop around downtown, traversing Granby St, Main St, St Pauls Dr, and Brambleton Ave, servicing the interim Downtown Norfolk Transit Center. The map below depicts the former loop, it’s predecessor bi-directional line (which operated between 2011 and 2013), and the short-lived EVMC branch.

Schedule and Frequency

The NET’s final schedule was as follows.

  • Weekdays
    • 6:00am until 6:00pm: Every 15 minutes
    • 6:00pm until 11:00pm: Every 30 minutes
  • Saturdays
    • 6:00am until 12 midnight: Every 30 minutes – All Day
  • Sundays
    • 7:00am until 11:00pm: Every 30 minutes – All Day

Prior to the opening of The Tide LRT, buses ran as frequent as every 8 to 10 minutes during weekday rush hours. Like many transit agencies, HRT had difficulty purchasing new buses due to financial constraints, and thus no new buses were added to the route in later revisions, in-turn resulting in lower frequency.

Fares

The NET service was fare-free from its incarnation in 1999 until 2011, when The Tide LRT opened. HRT and the City of Norfolk concluded that the fare-free NET would be unsustainable in the long-term and would be seen as competing with the light rail line that the city fought for years to get built. Upon the opening of The Tide, HRT began to impose a $1.50 fee for the NET, which was the same as a local bus fare.

A Norfolk NET bus passing by Commerical Park in downtown Norfolk. Photo taken by HARTride 2012 in April, 2013.
A Norfolk NET bus passing by Commercial Park in downtown Norfolk. Photo taken by HARTride 2012 in April, 2013.

Fleet

Originally, the NET service comprised of a small fleet of electric-powered buses. It is unclear how long these vehicles were in service. In 2007, HRT purchased a fleet of 30-foot Gillig Low Floor Diesel-Electric Hybrid-drive buses (fleet numbers 4015 through 4023) with the BRT-style design for the NET bus line. These buses were purchased alongside hybrid buses used for the Virginia Beach WAVE shuttle service and will likely be redistributed to other routes, such as the VB WAVE.

Disclaimer

This page remains up solely for informational and historical reference. The route was eliminated on July 6, 2014 due to low ridership and duplication of downtown bus service. To obtain the latest transit information, please visit gohrt.com or call (757)-222-6100.

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