Thursday, July 29, 2010

Riding The 962 Into Suffolk

On Wednesday I made my fourth day trip to Suffolk to check out Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) service there. Two major changes had been scheduled with HRT's July 11 board change, though only one actually happened.

The first was the reconfiguration of Route 962, the weekday rush hour-only bus that is the only HRT service in and out of southern Suffolk. (Some wag would inevitably point out the through 47 serves northern Suffolk via Portsmouth and a corner of Chesapeake.) It's eastern terminus was moved from Cedar Grove in Norfolk to County & Court in Portsmouth; it's western terminus from the Magnolia Park and Ride to the Suffolk Bus Plaza. The consensus was that bringing the 962 all the way into the Suffolk Bus Plaza has been a huge boost, even though it's cut Route 73 ridership.

Yes, they're still at the Suffolk Bus Plaza. A new transfer center had been constructed at the new building that houses Suffolk's Social Services and Health departments, but the move there is mired in local politics. Let's hope the Suffolk City Council can put their egos in check and do the right thing, agreeing to move the transfer center.

Ridership appeared to be down from my previous visits, and I was given a couple theories. However, one of them simply doesn't wash.

I was happy to be able to bring people up to speed on the status of the bus shelter they want for the Farm Fresh on Route 71. I'd twice heard it discussed at TDCHR meetings.

A couple people wanted Saturday service, both on the mainline routes and the 962. However, the Suffolk City Council would need to fund it. The impetus is so those who work Monday - Friday could take the bus shopping on Saturday. Currently mainline service in Suffolk is only on weekdays and just until 6 P.M.


Anonymous Coward said...

6:30 PM actually

And I guess I'll be that wag: SR-135 & I-664 via High Street

Amanda Jennings said...

Well, someone beat me to being a nit-picker. As a Suffolk Resident who does the 74-72 commute every day (I'm a student at Paul D Camp CC), please let me chime in

First, to nit-pick:
Southern Suffolk (Whaleyville, for example) doesn't have bus service :\

Downtown is more "central" Suffolk.

Anon Coward: Buses are done by 6:15 PM ish (or as soon as they get back to the Bus Plaza after doing the 5:30 PM loop trip)

Now, to be constructive:
My two cents (which would require Suffolk City Council being on board):

* Weekdays: one earlier morning trip loop and two more loops in the evening
* Saturdays: Yes, please (how about Sundays too, so I could head to St Mary's Catholic Church) Something. Anything!
* 962: Mid-Day service to at least Chesapeake Square (where I do my shopping at when I want to head to the mall - I usually go on Fridays when I don't have class, but get a ride in one direction because of the lack of 962 service)
* 47: We need a connection to Harbourview. My grandparents live up there and would gladly take the bus to Downtown to conduct city business

What exactly is going on with the switchover of Suffolk Bus Plaza?

Avenging Archangel said...


First of all, it's always great to have my fellow Catholics read and comment on my blog.

There was another planned route in northern Suffolk that's stalled. My hope is that those already-budgeted funds will be used to increase service on Routes 71-74, whether evening or Sunday.

The story I was told on the transfer center move is that the Suffolk City Council was brought into the process late and you now have some bruised egos on Council. Since the new TC is on city property, you need Council approval to move there.

Whaleyville is the subject of a good HRT joke. When a HRT planner was in Suffolk in the Spring of 2009, a few passengers told him they wanted service to Whaleyville. He later had to look it up on a map to find where it was. I told him "You should have told them 'When Whaleyville gets the density to support it."

Amanda Jennings said...

Stalled route? Downtown Suffolk / Chesapeake Square via 337? From there, you could run a bus up Taylor Road to meet the 47 at Village & Academy (a 1 hour bus trip to my Grandparents - I would consider that reasonable). Yes Chesapeake and Portsmouth, I'm looking at you too to get on board. Personally, once hourly from Suffolk to Chesapeake Square and every 30 minutes to Churchland. There's relatively nothing along the Parkway and the bus would be more of an express connector (sort of like the 961 from Downtown Norfolk to Wards Corner).

As for Whaleyville, that might have been me when HRT came to the city that time (my aunt & uncle live there). This was before I understood politics like I do now (I was in my high school Government class and just starting to fully comprehend politics)

Avenging Archangel said...


You kill your argument with your argument. To run an express bus, you need high traffic TCs and/or attractions at both ends. To run a mainline bus, you need stuff along the route. Your suggested route does neither.

Personally, in the midterm I'd replace the 962 with an hourly, all-day mainline express going to Chesapeake Square and Victory Crossing.

Amanda Jennings said...

Only fair then (seriously, there's hardly anything along the Nansemond Parkway - called Portsmouth Blvd in Chesapeake). There's a few pockets of some density here and there. I only suggested Nansemond since it's the most direct non-interstate/non-58 route from Downtown Suffolk to Chesapeake Square.

I would support once hourly 962. Yes, we mainly need to travel to Chesapeake Square + Victory Crossing. That plus a bus on Taylor Road from Chesapeake Square to Churchland connecting with the 47 going to Lakeview - the 47 should also be going to Harborview*)

* if the bus kept straight on Towne Point Road at College Drive, you'd end up at Harborview.

Who pays for the 47 anyways (since it goes through 3 cities, but mostly in Portsmouth)? I hear that the 47 has plenty of on time issues when it comes into my city :( Maybe the route needs to be split somewhere (sort of what you did to the 13 creating the 14)

Avenging Archangel said...


Under HRT's service agreement, each of the three cities pay for their portion of the 47.

Yes, the 47 has on-time problems. Earlier this year HRT did an on-time analysis of the 47, but I never heard the results.