THE BIG PICTURE
Hampton Roads’ ability to compete as a place that employers and citizens choose to call home depends significantly on having a well-performing transportation system. This includes public transportation. Citizens in every city deserve access to safe, reliable, and affordable transportation options.
The region needs quality public transit to support better access to jobs, education and workforce training opportunities, attractive placemaking, and a host of other positive outcomes. Lacking a reliable, well-connected transit system is a competitive disadvantage for the region. Places without quality transit forego the additional economic activity that transit uniquely supports.
At peak use levels and just over $100 million in total costs, the region’s main transit system (HRT) has supported over 20,300 jobs, $548 million in employment income, and more than $92 million in consumer spending annually for local and regional economies.1
These are positive numbers. Yet, just as Hampton Roads’ population and job growth have lagged in recent years compared to other regions (both nationally and within Virginia), the region’s core public transit system is not achieving its full potential. Less than 2 percent of weekday commutes are currently happening on transit. The region can do better.
The Transit Transformation Project was undertaken to explore how we could help unlock the potential of the region’s core bus system. Specifically, the project sought to learn how the region can get a better performing HRT bus system for the money already being invested (a Regional Cost-Neutral Plan), in addition to even better returns on investment if service levels were increased (a Full Plan). It looked at where buses go, how often they run, how much they cost, and how these costs are paid.
Since the passage of House Bill 2313 in 2013, great progress is being made to improve roads, bridges, and tunnels in Hampton Roads. Working together, we can now focus attention to further enhancing regional mobility, safety, and quality of life for communities across the region. This means improving the region’s public transportation.
Transforming transit and positioning Hampton Roads for long term success and sustainability requires a new level of commitment to change and robust regional collaboration, and local and state policy makers can lead the way.
Following through on the actions recommended in this report can help transform transit in Hampton Roads - better reliability, faster commutes, new connections.