If You live in Hampton Roads, Virginia, you have quite a few wonderful benefits, such as culutural attractions, educational exhibits, great medical centers, outdoors areas, flea markets, antique stores, water sports, several sports teams, great universities & schools, decent climate, nice museums, and an easy drive to and from theme parks…
But, unfortunately, you also have some serious issues. For example, you only have three major ways to leave the regio, I-64 is the ONLY interstate freeway. Your only other routes are U.S. 460 and U.S. 58. The Viriginia Department of Transportation does not designate the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (U.S. 13) as an evacuation route, probably due to its length and much of its length is causeway, and can be overwashed by high surf from Hurricanes.
When a hurricane approaches, the evacuation routes pack real easy, we have traumatic rush hours due to the lack of transportation options we have.
Currently, we only have 2 Amtrak deaprtures per day, and while we have 2 airports, we have nothing direct to major cities except Atlanta and Washington, D.C. The Greyhound service is also quite limited. We just opened our new light rail service, “The Tide,” last August, however, it only services the city of Norfolk.
NEW AMTRAK SERVICE BEGINS DECEMBER 2012!!!!
The first phase of the light rail plan should have included such places as Norfolk International Airport, The Virginia Beach Oceanfront, and Naval Station Norfolk. IN 2012, a new Amtrak service will be provided once per day in each direction from Norfolk, and this will be the first time Norfolk has had passenger rail service in more than 30 years. While that is a step in the right direction, it is very long overdue and really not adequate.
Soon, toll collection will begin on two local tunnels, which will fund the expansion of one crossing, as well as one local freeway, however the area is sorely in need of the project to widen the U.S. 460 to Petersburg.
High Speed rail will eventually provide some services somewhere along the East Coast, besides the “Acela” train that Amtrak offers north of Washington, D.C.
For those who have no cars, and rely on the Hampton Roads Transit, the ferry, MAX (Metro Area Express), NET Connector, Virginia Beach Wave shuttles are the BEST services provided, as well as the re-routed 5/Willoughby bus, and the new route 22 mentioned below. Only two connections are provided by HRT to other systems (both connections are between HRT & the smaller Williamsburg Area Transportation Authority) so, mobility is rather lacking. Most local buses run every 30-60 minutes, and while night and Sunday is provided, those services are generally focussed in Norfolk & Newport News, while Virginia Beach has gotten better with the evening service recently.
As of October 28, 2012, HRT has added new routes.
Route 22 in virginia Beach runs hourly and services the HAygood area of Virginia Beach.
Route 28 is a new limited-stop service on Virginia Beach Blvd from Newtown Road light rail station to the Oceanfront.
Route 965 is a pilot test route that operates express from Patrick Henry Mall to Peninsula Town Center then Naval Station Norfolk.
Route 43 in Portsmouth is a route that partially replaced the former 300 Loop route when that was eliminated. It travels from Downtown Portsmouth to Midtwon and Wal-Mart.
918 MAX is a route that operates limited stop peak hour service from the Silverleaf lot in Virginia Beach to the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk.
Progress is slow, but it is happening.
Also, sometime next year, the HRT transfer area at Cedar Grove will be moved.
While public transit ridership is up about 2% (http://apta.com/mediacenter/pressreleases/2011/Pages/111208_Ridership.aspx) we have seen transit systems nationally trimming services. The latest reports are that the economy has seen some fairly significant growth in this 3rd quarter (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203893404577100170163515762.html?mod=WSJ_hp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsThird) which means more driving, and use of transit.
The Hampton Roads area is very behind with transportation and other solutions.
Anyone who lives in Hampton Roads and is interested in being active in finding and promoting solutions may join the Hampton Roads Public Transportation Alliance at http://www.hrpta.com.
HRPTA is an advocacy group that advocates transportation solutions in the Hampton Roads Region of Virginia.