Thursday, March 27, 2008

Off To Cedar Grove

Just when you thought nothing worse than the Pembroke East detour could happen for the region's bus riders, the City of Norfolk decided to outdo it.

With construction of the Wachovia Center about to begin, the Direct Transfer Center (DTC) for downtown Norfolk is permanently going to be removed from Charlotte Street. On Sunday the new DTC will be moved to the Cedar Grove Parking Lot for the medium term. (Norfolk politicians have stated they eventually want a multimodal center at Harbor Park.) The City of Norfolk sent the approved plan to Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) less than a week before it was to begin! Hundreds of bus riders need to be informed and rerouted on a few days notice. Talk about a logistical nightmare!

If that wasn't bad enough, there's the actual details of the plan. One, buses will stop making a loop through downtown. Two, Route 17 (NET) won't be extended to and for the DTC. Three, according to HRT Staff, the wording of the plan would preclude feeder buses from being run to the planned light rail stations downtown.

Over a month ago I was asked about such a framework. I said I could live with it provided that the NET was extended out to the new DTC to give bus riders downtown access. While it shouldn't be a major challenge for bus riders simply transferring downtown, it's a nightmare for those who have downtown as their final destination. Downtown access is supposed to be provided by Routes 6 and 45 going down St. Paul's. If Norfolk thinks that will actually work, they should take a buck and go down to Dollar Tree to buy a clue.

The whole thing smells of a scheme to use Wachovia Center construction to flush bus riders out of downtown.

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