One of the arguments that has come up during the fare review by Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) has been "Why not raise fares only to $1.75 rather than $2?" HRT could largely tread water for two years doing that, but would face the same wall in 2012. I say "largely" since two areas that would suffer at $1.75 are vehicle replacement and preventive maintenance. Late this past week, there was a glimpse at how serious both are getting.
On Thursday afternoon so many buses were at the Southside garage needing repair that MAX buses were being sent out for mainline service. I myself saw a MAX bus on Route 20 duty at the Cedar Grove Transfer Center; two Operators have since told me of others.
Going to work Saturday morning meant having to board a Gillig Phantom through the rear exit-only door. The front door had broken en route, forcing passengers through the rear. (Even for a HRT regular like me, I hadn't done that before and the maneuver was awkward.) Fortunately, a mechanic had been dispatched to Pembroke East to meet the bus there and repair the door.
Bus passengers face a simple choice: pay a $2 fare, or ride old buses with substandard maintenance.