Better HRT for students .. and everyone else

18 01 2008

I ride the bus. When it opens I will ride the Tide. But currently, the bus only works for short distances inside Norfolk. If I wanted to go anywhere else though,it might as well be a dead end. To go to Chesapeake TCC, it takes approximately 2 hours and I can’t use it for night classes; the last bus runs out of the TCC at 6:45 pm and the next doesn’t get there until 6:45 am and its the same to the VB TCC. To get to the Portsmouth TCC, I need 5 transfers and 2 hours. You can forget the nearly 3 hours to get from Chesapeake to VB TCC or the 4 hours to get to the Portsmouth from the Chesapeake. (For some reason its actually half an hour quicker to go from the VB TCC to the Ports. TCC than from the Ches. TCC)
Anyway, Light rail will eventually make this better if they can get it throughout the region. Until then, HRT needs to have bus routes that are more direct to the college campuses. There are alot of Chesapeake or VB residents that attend ODU. At today’s gas prices it is sometimes cheaper to rent a house closer than it is to drive.
This shouldn’t be the case. Contrary to popular belief, college students today do not mind riding the bus. College students today, however, want everything to happen instantly; no waiting. That is why most don’t ride the bus. If it takes longer than 30 minutes, its a waste of time. I know that they can make long, effective routes that are quick. Take the Downtown/Oceanfront express; Norfolk to the Beach in 30 minutes. That bus is packed to the limit for most of the day.
Question: So why not introduce more routes like this?
Answer: Because HRT cannot make its own decisions. Thats right, they are essentially crippled in bureaucracy. In order for HRT to create a new route, they must get city Council approval for EACH city the new route passes through.
Solution: First extend the Light Rail to the Beach. Second, all the main bus routes need to run North/South to the Light Rail line while secondary bus routes can run East/West to convenient locations that are further away from the light rail. Third, HRT needs to be given the power to do its own job. They should be able to create and manage bus routes without council approval. Finally, in addition to the current express routes, express routes need to be created to allow fast, convenient travel from each TCC campus in the area as well as a Park-and-Ride in VB and Chesapeake that goes to ODU.

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