Monday, May 11, 2009

Riding HRT In Suffolk

The City of Suffolk had long simply leased buses from Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) and operated it's own four local routes as a separate service. Last year Suffolk studied the matter and determined it was cheaper to have HRT assume direct control. In March HRT took over Routes 71, 72, 73, and 74. Finally accomplishing a "get around to it" project today, I went to Suffolk to check things out for myself.

First there is the issue of getting there. The only bus into and out of Suffolk is Route 962, a MAX route that operates only on weekdays and during rush hour. You transfer from Route 962 to Route 73 at the Magnolia Park and Ride, a facility that underwhelmed me on seeing it for the first time. The four Suffolk local routes meet at the Suffolk Bus Plaza, just a block off the main drag in downtown Suffolk.

Suffolk service is quite different from that elsewhere in Hampton Roads. There are no posted bus stops; you simply flag the bus down along it's route. All four routes are loops. The routes go into shopping centers, apartment complexes, etc. (In the other six cities, the route goes past on the main road with a bus stop there.) Service only operates on weekdays 11 hours a day. All buses are hourly.

I had heard some bad things about Suffolk service, but was pleasantly surprised. In a sane world, bus service would be daily and 18 hours per day. In an ideal world, the looped routes would be straightened and replaced with more and more frequent routes. However, given political and financial realities, with a little tweaking Suffolk bus service wouldn't be that bad.


Michael Ragsdale said...

Here's my original report on Suffolk Bus Service (which includes links to my Flickr set*)

Suffolk Bus Service* Henry, I took several pictures of Magnolia. Don't tell me you were surprised at how small it is (see Magnolia Dumpheap).

Avenging Archangel said...

I was surprised. Worn asphalt where you might be able to park a couple dozen cars.

Magnolia is a dump compared to Silverleaf and Indian River Park and Rides.