The Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (TDCHR), the governing board of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT), met on Thursday afternoon at HRT Headquarters in Hampton. The meeting ran about 100 minutes, long for a TDCHR meeting. (They usually run about an hour.)
The lengthy discussion was on how HRT finances it's operations. Federal aid normally doesn't reach HRT until the 11th month (August) of the Federal fiscal year. That forces HRT to take out a calendar year Line of Credit to borrow against the Federal funds until they arrive. Currently the Line of Credit is $20 million, but Light Rail will require about an additional $7 million. Also, the Federal government has a program under which agencies (like HRT) can apply to receive 5/12ths of their money early, but that HRT has never used before. Like with the Line of Credit, there is a cost involved in the 5/12ths program. Currently the cities are billed quarterly for HRT services, and one Commissioner suggested they pay 100% up front so that cash would be available until Federal funds arrive. However, given the financial state of our cities, they're unlikely to agree to such a change.
Commission recognitions were given to 4 Commissioners who recently departed: James Holley of Portsmouth, Randy Wright of Norfolk, plus Grace Routten and Paige Washington of Hampton. Wright and Routten were on hand to receive their plaques. Also, a video was shown, Randy Wright: The Mobilizer. Wright was chuckling at a few of the older photos of himself in it.
Routten will now become an alternate Commissioner for Hampton. The two new Commissioners are George Wallace and Will Moffett.
Ridership was down 0.92% in July compared to July, 2009. However, July, 2010 had one fewer weekday than July, 2009. Given that HRT carries 50k passengers on an average weekday, that in itself could explain the 13k drop.
HRT finished July $905,699 ahead of Budget, but interim CFO David Sullivan warned against getting too excited over the first month in the fiscal year.
Norfolk light rail is 91% complete, with HRT in discussions with the contractor who is to electrify the track through downtown.
A contract with TMD for the efficiencies study was approved. The study will look at Resource Effectiveness and Resource Use Efficiency with service, scheduling, and Operators. It is hoped to have a minimal impact on current riders. The target figure is $3 million in efficiencies, the same amount a fare increase to $2 would have brought in.
In turn, should that much in efficiencies be found, a fare increase can then be pursued primarily as a means to improve our region's sorely inadequate bus service.
Commissioner Charles Whitehurst of Portsmouth called for the TDCHR to hold a Retreat, and Chairman Paul Riddick of Norfolk was asked to schedule one "in a couple of months". The TDCHR's last Retreat was in November, 2008 at the Marriott in downtown Norfolk.