Friday, February 26, 2010

TDCHR February 25, 2010

The Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (TDCHR), the governing board of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT), met Thursday afternoon at HRT headquarters in Hampton.

Issues were raised about getting the Federal government to release the final funds for Norfolk's light rail Starter Line. However, if it can be shown that cost increases happened due to an enlarged scope for the project, the Feds may cover up to 80% of those costs.

The agency is currently about $1.5 million under it's FY 2010 budget.

A draft budget for FY 2011 was presented. However, the figures are very preliminary, as a number of factors could change: state aid in the new state budget, what services the seven cities agree to contract for, and whether or not there is a fare increase and for how much (more on that later).

The first phase of the new Southside facility is on time and within budget. However, the new administrative building that was to be part of that project will now be delayed due to the state not making a planned bond issue with revenue down.

The draft of Phase II of the Regional Transit Vision Plan is due out in July. Those working on the project have been meeting with Staff in the seven cities. Also, there is a wish to include High Speed Rail and it's connectivity in the Plan.

Fun Facts from Thursday:

1. The cost of operating a HRT mainline bus is $58.01 per hour.

2. There are 59 mass transit systems in Virginia.

Finally, a couple of pieces of business of particular interest for my fellow bus riders:

1. The City of Suffolk is in talks with HRT about increasing service "in the northern part of the city". It wasn't mentioned exactly where.

2. Per TDCHR policy of allowing for a fare increase once every two years, the process has begun for considering one. Up to 4 options will be prepared for the TDCHR. There will be Public Hearings at the TDCHR meetings on April 22 in Hampton and May 27 in Norfolk, with a vote slated for the Norfolk meeting. The second Hearing was at the insistence of TDCHR Chairman Jim Wood, who noted the problems some bus riders have in crossing the water. (They thank you, Jim.)

Two facts to ponder on the issue. First, HRT's farebox cash fare has been at $1.50 since the 1999 merger of TRT and Pentran. Second, HRT's peer agencies now have an average farebox cash fare of $2.01.

A draft of the options is to go to HRT's Operations and Oversight Committee on March 12, with the final going to HRT's Budget and Audit Committee on March 24. A Presentation on it will be made to the TDCHR's March 25 meeting in Norfolk.

In addition, Henry Ryto, Chairman of HRT's Transit Riders Advisory Committee (TRAC) has requested that the information be provided to TRAC's March 17 meeting in Hampton. (As it's slated to go to O & O five days earlier, it should be ready.) It is hoped that TRAC can then provide recommendations from a bus riders prospective.

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