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Norfolk Light Rail and Transit

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Even the most fervent of proponents of LR around this area have to admit that the Norfolk Tide starter line does not a proof of concept make.  Indeed, ridership levels are low, the project is hemorrhaging cash, and any assertion of a direct, causal link between LR and development/re-development in DT would be specious, at best. 

Of course no one's talking about all of that. Oh, the details, the details.  They are thorny little buggers, aren't they....

Nay, this thread has more or less devolved into a city planner/public transit-wonk type of a discussion that is likely of little to no concern to the vast majority of our local population.  And although I am quite interested in the subject and was once a vocal proponent of extending LR to the Beach, I have always had serious doubts that the attendant, positive economic benefits that pro-mass transit wonks so breathlessly ascribe to LR will actually come to fruition in HR.

Edited by baobabs727

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Norfolk starter line is only half of the original concept. I think it's unfair to assess the Tide as a failure. It was supposed to be a link between the two cities, so much of the ridership and development that we're not seeing today would have potentially come from the Beach's side. Its hard to judge, because it was built and envisioned to end at least at Town Center which it doesn't.  

 

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Norfolk is at least putting the idea out there, and residents here are a lot warmer to the idea than VB. I get the financial reservations, but this area, spread out as it is, needs to depend on something other than just cars/trucks/vans, esp. if they want to lure jobs that are "millennial-friendly". Most tech jobs or something like Amazon are going to require better public transit.

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And then there were two...

https://pilotonline.com/news/local/transportation/proposed-norfolk-light-rail-routes-to-naval-base-would-go/article_ffc8932a-44ad-5af3-a66d-ae31600b883d.html

HRT has narrowed down the 14 potential plans to just two. One goes through Park Place to Hampton Blvd., the other is straight down Church St. IMO, they would be insane to not select the option that goes through ODU.

If approved, it could be up and running by 2027.

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21 hours ago, BFG said:

And then there were two...

https://pilotonline.com/news/local/transportation/proposed-norfolk-light-rail-routes-to-naval-base-would-go/article_ffc8932a-44ad-5af3-a66d-ae31600b883d.html

HRT has narrowed down the 14 potential plans to just two. One goes through Park Place to Hampton Blvd., the other is straight down Church St. IMO, they would be insane to not select the option that goes through ODU.

If approved, it could be up and running by 2027.

Hopefully they don't mess it up, Alternative 7 is the only good option now.

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I saw this in Denver last week and thought it was pretty cool. Can't wait to see it unveiled out here.

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9 hours ago, PlaceHolderName said:

from my view, it kind of flopped here in bmore. Perhaps they are riding it else where in the city, but from what I can see, its a flop.  I pass to on my way to work when I get off the metro, they are always empty. They use to move them around to other locations, but I just do not see people using them. Maybe the fact I do not see them means they are being used, don't know. DT bmore isn't that bike-able, but slighty off the path is.  If i had to drop a vegas bet, it can be too dangerous right outside of DT to be worth the time and many residents have bikes who live in the city. That means the only people who would use them would be county residents and I just do not see many doing that.

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I'll admit that's a bit of a bummer...I thought light rail through Ghent and ODU was a great idea, but I do understand the concerns. I live off Hampton Blvd., so I see the traffic in this area on a regular basis. It would've been a nightmare trying to force it through this area, with the roads being what they are.

Besides, this could allow for a stop at the airport, on the way to the base. I think that knocks out two birds with one stone.

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What a disappointment. This really sucks, not just for ODU but also for downtown. 

“40% of trips to the base come from Va Beach or Chesapeake.”  Today. Using that as a reason to discount a west side line fails to recognize that good transit can change that paradigm. It can make downtown Norfolk a more desirable place for 19 year old service people and students alike. Having downtown as the center of the transit network would have done great things. Instead, downtown will be on a cul de sac. 

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I hate to be like the people in the Pilotonline comments section but for crying out loud, enough is enough. Light rail has been a colossal failure here. Now there is some hair-brained scheme to run a light rail up Miliatary Highway to the airport and then to the "BASE" and this is going to magically solve traffic woes and make enlisted people want to ride transit that will take longer than driving and cost more. Yeah, not gonna happen. 

I ride The Tide quite often actually. I take it to Newtown Road to meet my husband after work regularly and it's a nice, easy, smooth ride. Never crowded because even at rush hour, there are not that many people on it. If it went to Town Center, that would be even better. I ride my bike a lot and then use The Tide to get me back sometimes. Out of all the left wing, liberal west siders that I have as friends I am one of the only if not the only one who rides it this much. But it is a waste and it is not efficiently tied into the bus system. I honestly feel this is because HRT wants a clean delineation between bus riders and light rail riders and does not appreciate the "bus crowd" who tend to be poorer on The Tide. I actually met a friend of a friend who works at HRT and was asking why on earth they would put the bus transfer center over by the projects and not Harbor Park where it would tie into light rail and she was incredulous saying "we have a bigger consumer base there!" Yeah until Norfolk bulldozes all the projects down. Watch for that bus transit center to vanish once pricey condos go up. 

Norfolk's leadership is myopic and sad but no more so than when it comes to public transit. Hampton Roads is a unique area because of the huge number of enlisted military folks we have here. I am a vet myself so I am not slamming military. But this area is made up of people who are from tiny crappy towns or slums of cities across the US who could not get out fast enough and the only ticket out was to join up. Myself and a good number of my military buddies included. So these are people who don't have the same value set as urban elites and don't make tons of money. When time is tight, who wants to drive to Newtown Rd where there is NOTHING and then park and then have to ride to a base and then get off a train and ride a bus or shuttle to somewhere else. When you have a life and kids and a job and have to be to work at 6:30 am. People going to the base won't even pay the express lane tolls of like $1 but they are going to go and sit on the light rail for twice that much and it will take twice as long? Again... yeah, not gonna happen. 

Then you have  Highway which is like driving in a war zone. Like literally wtf is going on and when is that going to be done? So now they want to send a light rail up there? I lived through the construction in Freemason and it was a disaster.

I do not understand how Norfolk is not bankrupt. If they are not giving their Buddys 15 year tax abatements on brand new, shoddily done buildings or giving land to fast food places they want to throw more money in the burn barrel to fund another light rail track that goes nowhere? Norfolk has seriously pressing issues that should be addressed. Instead of light rail, why not consider these options: 

  • Revamping the transit system in place to better reflect the needs of the current riders? Maybe express bus lines and lanes that better connect to light rail? 
  • Get smaller buses as in the buses that seat 15 people or so. The kind that are based on something like a  Ford Transit (see what I did there?) These use less gas and are much cheaper. They can be used on off-peak times or for less busy routes. 
  • Synchronization of the traffic lights to get better traffic flows. Maybe putting lights to flashing red/yellow after 9 pm?
  • Forget about "THE BASE" because it is a mini city in itself that will need extensive shuttles, etc. If the military is so worried about traffic to and from the base they would be more involved. 
  • Think to the future. ODU students don't need light rail because they just use lyft and uber anyway. I know because I drive part time for both. There is a free shuttle that ODU students can use and it is EMPTY because people go where they want when they want. Maybe Norfolk would better help its citizens by giving uber/lyft vouchers to get people to jobs because the bus certainly is not the way to do it. 
  • If it were somehow possible, ditch The Tide all together. It is never going to catch on. And this is coming from someone who rides it regularly. 
Edited by JPN0731

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The 10-year plan makes me raise an eyebrow. I'm sure there's some logistical issues I'm missing here, but I just don't see why it has to take that long. The initial line was approved around 2008, I wanna say? And it opened three years later. Norfolk is getting to be like VB in that it has to study everything to death and drag it out. Again, this is how we lose out to other cities. We don't need study after study after study to tell us, yes we need light rail or a new arena.

In the meantime, if Norfolk is not taking the steps to increase public transportation, they are really shooting themselves in the foot. Like JPN, I drive for Lyft from time to time; this generation relies on things like ride sharing to get from point A to point B, but I'm sure they'd love better options with public transit, even if it's only within Norfolk. I hate that this area refuses to come together...this is the one thing where we need to act as a region, and honestly, I don't think it should've ever been put to a vote. A region this size needs something other than the bus, or at the very least, extensive bus service.  BRT, Express Lanes, more buses, something's gotta give.

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If they travel up Military Hwy and go through Janaf, they could stop at the Outlets, travel the service road around the airport to the terminal, cut back to Military Hwy to Little Creek, head up Little Creek to Wards Corner and then go up 564 to terminate at the Nex or to a new Tide entrance gate. Any terminus has to be by Gates 1, 2, 3 or 5. They are all very close to the majority of buildings people actually work at, the barracks that people actually live at and they boats that people actually do both at. I feel like they are only focused on getting people to the base when there are tons of young people that live on base and need a way out.  Going to Gate 4 is a no go, there is nothing just inside that gate and an entire airfield in-between it and the ships, buildings and barracks.

Edited by Virginia City
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16 hours ago, baobabs727 said:

Wow, what a big waste of time and money. Now there will be a minimum 17 year gap between phase 1 and phase 2. Ridiculous.  

Where did you get the 17 year gap between phase 1 and 2?

Nevermind, I think you mean the starter line completion in 2011 to 2027 for completetion of this line. Thought you were talking about this line being broke up into phases. 

Edited by Up2313

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