Transit Transformation Online Meeting
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The Transit Transformation Project is focused on creating a better regional bus system for Hampton Roads.
In this meeting, we’ll review the Priority Improvements that citizens have emphasized to make a better HRT bus system.
A big result from this is having new Regional Standards that would apply across the six cities served by Hampton Roads Transit.
In our next meeting, we’ll review the Draft Plan for a better system that is based on the new Regional Standards.
You've spoken. We've listened.
Over the past several months, you've spoken and we've listened. We've heard from transportation experts and local officials. And planning wouldn't be complete without significant Public Involvement.
There were 21 pop-up events at busy transit centers and bus transfer locations. These events involved more than 1,200 HRT customers in the planning process.
We had Small Group Workshops with stakeholders from healthcare, education, military and federal facilities, economic development, housing, human services, and other sectors. Over 50 organizations were represented.
In May and June, there were 12 public meetings across the HRT service area, in addition to an online public meeting.
Survey questions were answered by over 2,700 participants from across Hampton Roads, providing valuable input on different preferences and priorities for a better HRT bus system.
Top 6 Priorities
Here are the Top 6 Priorities identified from the Regional Survey:
- More reliable service
- More frequent service during rush hours
- Real-time bus arrival information
- Safety and security features
- Mobile ticketing and fare payment options
- More sheltered stops in my city
Check out the full results of the Regional survey at TransformTransit.com.
We want to make improvements in all these areas. Of course, resources are limited. Overall investment in public transportation in Hampton Roads is low compared to transit systems in similar regions. Spending on HRT is about $76 per capita as compared to Columbus where investment is almost twice as much. The annual average among similar agencies is $86 per capita.
Most places the size of Hampton Roads have some form of dedicated funding for public transportation. That doesn’t exist here. With no dedicated investment, funding for daily operations comes mostly from individual Cities that are using Local General Funds. Each year, each of the six cities served by HRT decides what levels of bus service to fund and they adopt independent service plans. As you can imagine, these conditions make it difficult to plan and implement Regional Services that are as efficient and effective as they could be.
Trade-Offs are inevitable when there are limited resources to invest.
We asked five “Trade-off” questions during public meetings and Small Groups workshops. Participants placed one dot to indicate what they would prioritize when choosing between different options. Imagine you were the architect of the new bus system. What priorities would you emphasize?
Question 1 Summary
Should buses run everywhere or should they run more often?
Similar to Regional Survey results, most people had a clear preference for more frequent bus service on major corridors, as a trade-off to having extensive geographic coverage of service.
60 percent of people preferred frequent service.
Question 2 Summary
Should service planning prioritize connections within each city or be more regionally focused?
The overwhelming preference is for prioritizing regionally-connected service rather than focusing on connections within individual cities.
Question 3 Summary
Should priority consideration be given to the morning and evening rush hours or should equal priority be provided throughout the day?
Participants emphasized having more buses operating during the busiest commuting times on weekdays, while also noting that access to bus service on weekends and during off-peak hours is important.
Question 4 Summary
Should buses receive priority treatment on roadways?
79 percent of participants preferred implementing dedicated bus lanes, providing traffic signal priority for buses, or finding some other ways to speed up trips with preferential treatment for buses.
Question 5 Summary
Should Regoinal Bus Service Standards be created and applied?
75 percent of participants preferred regional standards over designing a bus service that prioritizes individual cities. Regional Standards would provide a new foundation for having service that is consistent across city boundaries. Based on Regional Standards, Hampton Roads could have a truly regional bus system, in contrast to much of today’s HRT services.
Better Regional Bus System
It’s abundantly clear that transit commuters and the public-at-large want a better core regional bus system.
With a better bus system, the region could move more people, not just more cars and trucks, and it would support better access to jobs, shopping, education and workforce training. A better bus system will help the region achieve its full potential for economic growth and overall quality of life.
To begin answering this need, and based on all the input received for the Transit Transformation Project, we’re excited to share New Regional Standards.
Implementing new Regional Standards
Implementing New Regional Standards will be an important step forward to having better public transportation across the 431 square mile area served by HRT. This area includes the cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach.
These standards have been developed to shape the design and implementation of future HRT bus services.
They will support consistency of service that commuters can count on - no matter what city they are traveling to - to get to work, school, shopping, home, or other important places.
New Regional Standards
Overall, there are five types – or Classifications – of recommended service:
- Regional Backbone routes will criss-cross the region along the major corridors that have the highest travel demand and connect the most people to the most jobs. These are areas with higher population and employment density.
- Local Priority routes. Population and employment densities will typically be a little lower in these areas compared to the Regional Backbone, but Local Priority routes are the “work horse” of the overall system. They may run within a single city or cross city boundaries, and will provide important connection points to the core transit network.
- Coverage routes. These routes will provide service for areas where overall demand for public transportation is generally lower, but transit still serves important community needs like access to jobs.
- Limited or Express routes is the fourth classification. These buses make a limited number of stops and commuters have shorter travel times to get to and from key destinations, like major employers.
- On-Demand service. In some areas that typically have lower concentrations of people and jobs, it will not be effective to operate regular bus service. Instead, these areas or “zones” will feature On-Demand service. Rather than using larger buses that travel regular route patterns customers will catch smaller vehicles that will provide pick-ups and drop-off at various locations within a zone and connect passengers to the Regional Backbone or other types of transit.
Applying the New Standards
In order to have the greatest positive impacts, the new Regional Standards would be applied uniformly across the HRT service area.
This way, commuters across the region could rely on service.
For example, service times will start and end the same. This refers to the span of service. Frequency would also consistent across the regional system.
Standards for Span of Service
No matter what city you are in, you could count on bus service being available during the same hours of operation.
Note that all types of service would begin at the same time but they would end at different times depending on classification, and whether it’s a weekday or weekend.
Standards for Frequency of Service
Frequency standards deal with how often buses come by a stop to pick up and drop off customers. With the Regional Standards, frequency would be consistent across the entire system.
The most frequent service will happen on Regional Backbone routes, where buses will come every 15 minutes during the busiest hours of the day.
This is one of the top priorities that citizens across Hampton Roads have identified for having a better regional bus – prioritizing high-frequency service on major corridors, especially during rush hours.
We’ve reviewed the Priority Improvements that citizens and community stakeholders have emphasized to make a better regional HRT bus system.
A big outcome from this is defining and implementing new Regional Service Standards that will be applied across the 6-city service area of Hampton Roads Transit.
In our next meeting, we’ll review the Draft Plan for a better system that is based on these new Regional Standards.