I've been to Suffolk about seven times before to check out the Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) service in southern Suffolk. Four mainline routes (Routes 71 - 74) are in the historical town of Suffolk and the immediate surrounding area. (Route 47 serves part of northern Suffolk.) I've always rode low key, not publicizing who I was.
Monday was different. I was there to recruit on behalf of HRT's Transit Riders Advisory Committee (TRAC). Neither Chesapeake, Portsmouth, nor Suffolk currently has a TRAC representative, with Suffolk's drought now for nearly a decade. Therefore, myself and a compatriot were recruiting on the buses, speaking to riders and handing them fliers.
The big issue in Suffolk was the proposed service reductions in HRT's efficiencies report. On the one hand, nearly everyone in Suffolk knew cuts were on the table; on the other hand, no one I met could name which two routes were tagged for elimination. (Psst...it's Routes 72 and 73.) The City of Suffolk is holding a public hearing on the issue Wednesday night, which may shape their position. The misinformation in Suffolk is so bad that one woman believed Route 72 was getting every 15 minute service. (I don't think so.)
However, I was very pleased with the level of service offered by the HRT Operators in Suffolk. The irony wasn't lost on me that we were considering eliminating half their service with Suffolk now having the team in place to execute quality bus service.
One major new issue was pointed out to me on Monday. Route 73 goes through an industrial park at 2:57 P.M., while the QVC and Sara Lee plants there discharge shifts at 3 P.M. (Memo to the Planning Department....)
For my fellow bus riders in the other six cities, if you've never rode Suffolk, do so if you have a weekday free. It's quite different from HRT service elsewhere.