The rumors have been floating. There's a vague reference in the City's Budget explanation. One insignificant blog even tried to run with the story - and got it mostly wrong. Virginia Beach is about to ramp up bus service, albeit in a slow and awkward manner. However, embrace the gift.
1. Starting July 12, weekday evening service comes to Route 36.
Monday through Friday there will be three additional evening trips between the Pembroke East Transfer Center and Tidewater Community College's (TCC) Virginia Beach campus. The intent is to provide bus service for those needing it to go to evening classes at TCC and the Advanced Technology Center (ATC).
Being that it's a lifeline route for students, and will have no other buses to meet (at first), the initial schedule will mean layovers at Pembroke East to try to make the departures from TCC fit class dismissals. However, that may be changed in the Spring....
2. In May, service gets ramped up to the Newtown Road LRT Station.
Some additional weeknight frequencies will be added to Route 25 as Tide feeder service.
The real fun: as has been planned all along, Route 27 would then shoot straight down Newtown Road to the Station instead of turning west to the Military Circle Transfer Center. The kicker: the 27 will add evening and Sunday service. (Who would have bet the 27 would be the first evening and Sunday bus to the transfer center at Shore Drive & Pleasure House Road?)
3. Should a major fare increase come out of HRT's current fare review, the additional revenue could be put towards more service.
The TDCHR has yet to even formally advertise Public Hearings and public meetings, so we're still fairly early in the process. Any increase would require TDCHR approval, and they will only do so after listening to the public. Currently the plan is for Public Hearings at the July and August TDCHR meetings, with two public meetings in the evening for those who can't attend the 1:30 P.M. TDCHR meetings.
However, additional revenue would probably go towards capital needs (including bus replacements and shelters) and some service. It is hoped to have a clearer picture of the possibilities prior to the Public Hearings, so they public can understand the options.
In addition, such an increase would make Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) eligible for additional Federal and state aid in FY 2013, allowing further boosters then.
I can hear some now: you don't want to layover at Pembroke East, the 27 would be doing the Pleasure Ho alone, etc.
However, the glass ceiling is broken and the City of Virginia Beach is beginning to add evening and Sunday service off of Virginia Beach Boulevard. With the matrix changed, we can always come back for more later.
Thank yous are due to the Virginia Beach City Council and Staff.