With Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) new Metro Area eXpress (MAX) premium express bus service to launch next Monday (June 16), HRT has been trying to promote it. I've volunteered to help, working at transfer centers the last three weekdays. This morning made for a trip that regular HRT riders would realize beat the odds, while it proves that existing bus service isn't as bad as the common public perception.
According to the original game plan, HRT was to be at 19th Street & Pacific Avenue (Virginia Beach) on Monday morning. I was sent an e-mail at 2:20 A.M., which I read at 5:55 A.M., telling me it would be the Newport News Transportation Center (NNTC) instead. That sent me scrambling to shower, get dressed, and make it to the bus stop within thirty minutes. Even then, the odds were stacked against me actually making it to NNTC by 9 A.M.
Getting to the bus stop about 6:15 A.M, I was told the 6 A.M. Cutback had just come past. That would mean I would need the regular 20 Inbound, which would leave me no room for error.
The 20 arrived about six minutes late, having had to pick up someone in a wheelchair. The driver pushed it, making it to the Military Circle Direct Transfer Center (DTC) a couple minutes early.
I then needed the 15 from Military Circle to Wards Corner, a bus that is chronically late at rush hour. We pulled out slightly late, yet made it to Evelyn Butts a couple minutes early. Despite
having to stop at five consecutive bus stops on Military Highway, we still reached Wards Corner on time.
The soon-to-be-discontinued 61 was five minutes late arriving at Wards Corner. Surprisingly, there were only 11 passengers going to the Peninsula. (I've seen twice that many at midday.) Paula Miller, with her House of Delegates tags, passed us on Willoughby Spit.
We arrived in Newport News about seven minutes late.
Bus regulars could tell you I shouldn't have been able to do the above. There were too many things that could have gone wrong that didn't. Then, that shows that our transit system can actually work.
I go to Hampton Tuesday morning. I'll leave a one bus cushion, not risking getting lucky again.