NORFOLK, Va. - Attention, passengers!
Hampton Roads Transit announced Friday that regular bus and light rail service will resume on Sunday, June 14.
Jonea Farmer of Portsmouth relies on the buses running in and out of the Downtown Norfolk station every day.
“I’ve been able to get around to my work even faster and helped me even better to get there,” Farmer said.
Efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 will continue. Select seats on buses and light rail trains will remain off limits for customers for the foreseeable future.
Customers are encouraged to board buses at the rear entrance. Customers who need assistance, such as those who use wheelchairs, can still use the front of the bus.
All customers 10 years and older are required to wear a face covering when entering, exiting, traveling through or occupying public transit centers and vehicles. A scarf, a bandanna, or a more formal medical-type mask are all acceptable.
“Many people are complying, but not everyone,” said HRT Spokesman Tom Holden. “We really want to drive this point home - to wear mask and protect yourself and your fellow customers.”
Service will remain free to customers until July 1 when fare collections resumes.
"The free bus really helped a lot through my every day needs," Farmer said.
Holden said the free fares averaged a couple million dollars in lost revenue for HRT.
“We anticipate they will climb back up as the economy begins to open up and more people are going back to work, but it has been a real shock to the system,” he said. “The federal and state government anticipated that and made funds available for transit services.”
On Friday, the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) authorized more than $61 million for Hampton Roads Transit if needed.
Bus ridership dropped 63% from this same time last year, going from 39,000 riders to 13,211 currently.
Rail service declined 73% with 4,372 riders in early June last year to 1,244 riders last week. The ferry saw a steep 93% drop with 961 people boarding on June 4, 2019 to 45 people on June 4, 2020.
Despite the low ridership, HRT Bus Operator Ed Carroll said some of his routes are packed. He’s been working throughout the entire pandemic and is aware of the risk.
“I’m very conscious of it,” Carroll said. “I have to take care of my wife at home, and she doesn’t have a strong immune system, so I’m always washing my hands. I take off my clothes, so they don’t get into the house.”
Service on the Elizabeth River Ferry will remain on a winter schedule. The Virginia Beach Wave Service is canceled for the season. Paratransit services will operate as normal.
All customers are encouraged to use transit for essential purposes only.
Additionally, the trolley service at the Oceanfront will not be running at all this summer.
For more information on transit services, click here.