Despite losing the opportunities represented by the referendum on light rail in Virginia Beach, HRT had much to celebrate at the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads’ last meeting of 2016. At the December 8th meeting, HRT celebrated it’s 4th year of clean audits with no findings and it was announced HRT was a recipient of the 2016 Teddy Awards.
In his end of the year President’s Report, President and CEO William Harrell said HRT has much to celebrate:
“Hampton Roads Transit celebrated many victories this year. We overhauled one-third of our bus fleet with 51 repowers and 40 full rebuilds, resulting in more efficient and reliable daily service. We purchased 32 new GILLIG buses and 14 vintage trolleys, supporting core fleet needs and the re-launch of our popular Oceanfront service. We developed new initiatives for 2016 roll-out, including new Student Freedom Pass and “Try Transit” passes, to attract and build new ridership. While there are numerous other success stories, I would like to highlight the agency’s three most noteworthy accomplishments.
We started out the year very strong with the opening of the Downtown Norfolk Transit Center on January 17. This distinctive center with its saw-tooth canopy represents a dramatic improvement for our customers and another step forward in our vision to become the most efficient and customer-driven transit agency in Virginia. Before, transit riders made their connections at Wood Street off St. Paul Boulevard under less than ideal conditions. Now, customers have a completely different transit experience. The center supports 14 bus routes and nearly 6,000 weekday passenger trips.
Hampton Roads Transit and the City of Norfolk celebrated The Tide’s Fifth Anniversary on August 19, 2016 with an exciting celebration at MacArthur Square Station. Hundreds gathered in support of light rail and to celebrate the economic impact it has had on the City of Norfolk. The City has welcomed more than half a billion dollars in commercial investments along The Tide alignment since it opened in 2011. It also remains one of the safest light rail systems in the country. Norfolk has experienced a 72% increase in the number of residential housing units downtown, from 2,050 in 2010 to 3,527 in 2016. People aged 20 to 34 living downtown increased by 24.9% in just four years – the largest overall percentage increase of any age category.
Hampton Roads Transit and the City of Norfolk are planning for a possible extension to Naval Station Norfolk. While a final decision is years in the future, the planning process will help to define potential routes and transit modes that could link The Tide light rail with the base.
We have a lot to celebrate and an aggressive agenda planned for 2017 as we collectively pursue our vision of being the most efficient and customer driven transit in the Commonwealth.”