Friday, November 7, 2008

2008 HRT Retreat Day 1

After completing this morning's TDCHR meeting, the tables were reset for the annual Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) Retreat. The TDCHR reconvened, with five major areas covered on Friday.

It started with an overview of the Fare Policy document being drafted. The big item: the consultant suggested that HRT peg it's fares to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), with annual increases based on the CPI figure. The TDCHR will take up the proposal at a later date.

A briefing was given on the Comprehensive Operation Analysis that is in progress.

The Hampton Residential Services, seasonal bus routes targeted for middle and high school students, will be discontinued no later than June, 2010. HRT is one of seven transit agencies in the country that offers a product aimed at students. Not only have Federal Transit Administration (FTA) regulation changes made it more difficult to operate, but capital needs to keep it's older buses running make it cost-prohibitive to continue.

The proposed Strategic Plan was covered. It's a series of principles and measures for operating HRT. Commissioners wanted to spend little time on it, as what's in it are common sense things that - Randy Wright noted - HRT should already be doing.

Then came the fun part: the Vision Plan. Representatives working on the MPO's regional mass transit plan gave a quick overview of the early ideas. There was a passionate discussion on where everyone wanted to see mass transit in Hampton Roads in the long term. CEO Michael Townes graciously invited the observers (including myself) to come sit with the Commissioners and HRT Staff to join in the discussion of the Vision Plan. (Yes, I got a couple noteworthy things in.)

The session ended at 4:15 P.M., a half hour earlier than scheduled. The TDCHR reconvenes at 8:30 A.M. for another half day of the Retreat. On the Agenda are the Business Plan and Governance Issues.

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