Hampton Roads Transit is inviting the public to learn about their Transit Corridor Project through various pop-up meetings this week.
The project would extend the Tide light rail to Military Circle as the city plans to redevelop the area.
According to a study conducted by HRT in 2019, this expansion would increase Tide ridership by about 40 percent.
"We believe that by giving the Tide the logical eastern terminus, giving it a true destination in the eastern end instead of stopping at Newtown Road at the city line, we're making [the Tide] a much more attractive option," said Sam Sink, HRT's director of transit development. "If this light rail system is built, you’ll have two large hospital campuses connected to each other in EVMC and the Sentara Leigh Hospital campus."
Sink is the manager of the Transit Corridor Project and believes extending the Tide to Military Circle will provide easy access to the new jobs and businesses and city plans to bring to the area.
Sink adds the expansion will also help HRT appear attractive to federal funding distributors.
By increasing riders, HRT hopes to receive more federal funds to continue improving the accessibility of the Tide.
"With it being a small line that hits two big activity generators, we're modeling a 40 percent jump in ridership for, for the light rail, a relatively small cost," explained Sink. "And that's going to be very competitive in the federal funding arena."
The proposed project also includes the development of Norfolk's first Bus Rapid Transit system, or BRT.
While technically a bus, a BRT works similarly to a train with prepay stations, a specific route with its own lane and fewer stops.
The BRT would extend up to Naval Station Norfolk.
Sink says the ultimate goal of this system is to advance equity between Norfolk residents.
"It's freedom. It's freedom to choose," Sink said. "I own a car but I don’t have a good choice of how to get to and from work other than to drive. The bus maybe takes too long or doesn’t go where I need it to go, or maybe I don’t have a light rail by my house, but if I did, I would take it. So we want to give people freedom of choice, and equality of choice."
The public can learn more about these projects at various HRT stations throughout the week.
The pop-up meetings will be held on the following dates:
- Monday, October 4 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Wards Corner Transfer Station (Granby Street, Norfolk)
- Tuesday, October 5 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Military Circle Transfer Area (Ring Road, Norfolk)
- Thursday, October 7 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Newtown Road Station (Newtown Road and Curlew Drive, Norfolk)