Community organization pushes for frequent and adequate bus service in one Hampton Roads city

Community organization pushes for frequent and adequate bus service in one Hampton Roads city
Posted at 4:30 PM, Oct 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-22 18:09:50-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- Virginia Organizing, a community organization that looks to address issues affecting local communities, is urging Hampton Roads Transit and the City of Newport News to provide more frequent and efficient bus service.

“Many of our members are bus riders and what they’ve said is that buses do not come on time," Janice Johnson, an organization member, explained, "that the service doesn’t start early enough in the morning, they don’t go late enough.”

The organization said about 15 of its members will be at Tuesday night's Newport News City Council meeting to urge the city to push more transit service. The meeting starts at 7 p.m., and Johnson said they will make their case during the open-comment portion of the meeting.

Another issue it says is affecting riders are the bus schedules where certain buses run every hour. Johnson pointed out Sunday schedules as an issue as well.

"If you've got work at 6 o'clock in the morning, you're going to have a problem getting to work," Johnson said.

What Johnson is referring to is how certain schedules show service beginning at a later time on Sunday than it normally would during the week. The schedules also show service ends before it normally would during the week.

Related: HRT to study adding new bus or light rail service throughout Norfolk

A few examples are the buses that stop at the Boulevard Park near Riverside Hospital. Three routes are displayed running hourly with a later start time and end time on Sundays. The question is: Who is going to pay for that service and how much will it cost?

News 3 reached out to HRT. A spokesperson said it is up to the cities to determine how much service it wants and how much it's willing to pay for it. The spokesperson added that HRT has advocated for better transit in the region.

According to HRT's 2019 fiscal budget, roughly $7.6 million comes from local contributions in Newport News. The same graph shows the total expenses -  $15,328,793 - outweighing the contributions.

"Everyone always says to you when you're asking for more changes, 'Where's the money coming from?'" Johnson said.

News 3 also reached out to the City of Newport News, and at this time we have not received a response.