Okay, waiting on my two cents worth on Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) efficiencies report? I was there in the board room for the Presentation on Thursday afternoon. What HRT is looking at doing is essentially reducing or eliminating service on the bottom 25% of routes in order to move those funds to the top 25% of routes, with the intent of producing a high service core that would attract more passengers to the system.
What I found most troubling about Thursday's PowerPoint is that it presented the proposal to the TDCHR as nirvana. We can do this, then put off any fare increases for at least three years. That's hardly the case. What the proposal never starts to do is boost the bus routes in the 26th to 50th or 60th percentiles.
In order for mass transit to become a viable option for many here in Hampton Roads, our bus routes need to be corridors where people can live, work, and shop after work. To meet that definition, all routes feasible would have to run daily, a minimum 16 hours a day. As a former professional numbers cruncher, from the beginning I never believed that you could squeeze enough in efficiencies out of the system to avoid a fare increase. As such, I was proven right on Thursday.
Not everywhere a bus rider wants to go is along the top 25% of bus routes. TDCHR policy is to review fares once every two years. The next scheduled review would be in 2012. Therefore, I suggest the following plan:
1. Enact an efficiencies plan
HRT needs to better utilize what resources it has to muster public support for greater mass transit in the region.
2. Implement the plan
That's now scheduled for late 2011.
3. Do the 2012 fare review
With steps 1 and 2 behind you, it should be understood that the 2012 fare review would look at boosting service and ending inequities in the faremedia system that don't promote frequent ridership.
4. Draft a service booster plan based on revenue projections from the fare review
Where would the additional dollars be used? That's the 26th to 50th or 60th percentile routes.
5. Implement the plan
Let additional corridors meet my definition in the 3rd paragraph.
The TDCHR is looking to hold a Retreat later this year. I hope they take this up at the Retreat.