Thursday, March 27, 2008

TDCHR March 27, 2008

This afternoon the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (TDCHR) met at Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) office on Monticello Avenue in Norfolk. Quite a bit of business happened.

With a Public Hearing on fare changes first on the agenda, there was a manned table outside the Board Room for would-be speakers to signup. A large number of visitors were there, but only three people (including myself) actually spoke.

Before going in, I got a copy of the Presentation that Michael Townes had made to Future of Hampton Roads (FHR) on Tuesday morning. Given FHR's political agenda, I had expected something loaded with light rail. Instead the Presentation looks suspiciously like the one James Toscano recently gave to the Republican Breakfast in Virginia Beach.

Three of us spoke on the proposed fare changes, with the other two speakers going largely off-topic. Questions were raised about ending the 10 Ride card and disabled fares on the MAX (Thank you, Jim Wood). In the end, the Commission unanimously passed the changes.

The TDCHR was presented a proposed $76.6 million FY 2009 Budget by CFO Larry Davenport. Please note, Deaniacs: Norfolk Light Rail Starter Line construction continues to come in under budget.

After two months of stormy debate, the TDCHR Retreat dates and location were finally agreed to. It will be July 25 & 26 at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott.

Discussions continue between HRT and the City of Portsmouth over construction of a bus terminal at Victory Crossing. It is hoped things can be finalized soon.

Telling Statistic Of The Day: Hampton Roads is the 31st largest metropolitan area in the United States, but it's 67th in transit spending. That's right: 31st in size, 67th in transit spending.

In the CEO's Report, Commissioners were informed about an AT&T wireless tower at HRT's Hampton headquarters. The ground lease is a revenue source for HRT. Being an AT&T customer, I apparently don't have to worry about a signal when I'm at Victoria Boulevard.

I didn't see The Virginian-Pravda's Debbie Messina at today's meeting. She's usually there, especially if there's light rail news to cover. Bus riders not sexy enough of a story? Hey, Debbie, I had a copy of my remarks ready to give to you so you wouldn't misquote me.

I wanted to give kudos to Portsmouth over officially coming into light rail. Mayor Holley was absent. However, Portsmouth City Manager Kenneth Chandler was sitting two chairs to my left, so I congratulated him.

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