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Norfolk Light Rail and Transit


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Just took my inaugural ride of the tide. First impressions, I think this thing is really going to work out for us. Lots of curious and friendly people checking this out today. Trains and park and rides are all full. Saw more than a few people brought their kids with them (kids love trains so this is no surprise). One downside, no wifi on the train as of yet. I took my iPad with me kind of expecting that there would be and was disappointed that there was not. They need to get that fixed stat, lots of business travelers will be expecting the same thing. There were two very lonely protesters at the newton station. I quietly laughed to myself when I saw them. If that's the most VBTA can muster we should have no problem getting this thing to the beach.

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Amtrak will add a 3rd Norfolk to DC train sometime this year. https://www.pilotonline.com/news/transportation/vp-nw-passenger-rail-hampton-roads-buttigieg-northam-20210331-zdpqhmjqzfe5rcioi3brqor

Once it's 4 lanes, then people will really see why a third crossing is needed

They focus too much on bus service. There is and always will be a stigma on using the city bus. Enough of the light rail studies and get it done already. 

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Oh, btw. The train goes very fast between the military and harbor park station. Cut what would be a 20 min ride to about 5. Traveling the whole system was surprisingly quick. I think that's going to be a real selling point. As an odu student who gets to ride this for free all year, I will be frequently parking my car at newton and going downtown to eat, shop, etc.

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I rode the rail this morning too.. I was on the first train out at newtown. The mayor, vice mayor, city manager, etc. were all on my train. Surprised to see so many people out at 5 am. Like vdogg said, the park and ride was full & so was the overflow lot. When I got back to Newtown station there were still full trains headed into Downtown. I took some photos that I'll post later. Big day for the city.

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I rode the rail this morning too.. I was on the first train out at newtown. The mayor, vice mayor, city manager, etc. were all on my train. Surprised to see so many people out at 5 am. Like vdogg said, the park and ride was full & so was the overflow lot. When I got back to Newtown station there were still full trains headed into Downtown. I took some photos that I'll post later. Big day for the city.

Yeah, the project manager was on my train. Very nice guy. He was already talking about expansion and seemed excited about the response they've seen. :)

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From the pilot:

http://hamptonroads.com/2011/08/passengers-board-light-rail-officially-begins-norfolk

At 10:40 a.m., a train reached Newtown Road. The station was packed with people waiting to board, crowding the platform.

“Exit that way because it’s too crowded” the other way, an HRT employee says to a bicyclist getting off the train, pointing him toward a clear path.

At 11:05 a.m., everyone seemed to be in a good mood. The line at the last station snaked around Newtown Road, and some people had to wait for two or three trains to get on board. Inside, it seemed as packed as a New York City subway train during rush hour. Still, few people grumbled. In the Tide, a man told his companion, “That wasn’t too long of a wait.” She responded, “No, it wasn’t.”

At 11:21 a.m., one slightly disgruntled customer sat on a bench at the Harbor Park station. He couldn’t get onto the train because there were too many people on it. “They’re just riding around,” he said. “There’s got to be a way to make them get out of those things.”

At 11:43 a.m., Trish Long and her 7-year-old, Sam, were waiting at the Harbor Park Station for their return ride back to MacArthur Center. How long had they been waiting? “An hour,” Sam said. His mother had a more exact answer. “According to the schedule, it’s three minutes late. I work for the railroad" -- Norfolk Southern Corp. -- "so I’m OK with it for today.” A few minutes later, a train came, but Long and her son couldn’t find room to get on. As the train left, Sam leaned into his mother, looking disappointed.

^^^If only half these people continue to ride after this weekend, we'll be in very good shape.

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That is definitely a promising start and this kind of positive buzz is good when it comes to trying to convince people for more money to expand the rail lines. The funny part is you are gonna soon hear people that are still against rail complain that they are just empty trains cause they saw one mostly empty during non rush hour times.

We even get those complaints here in Portland, yet when you try to ride them at rush hour you can barely get on them.

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My wife and I rode the Tide on Saturday, starting at EVMC around noon. We had a great time, and so did everyone else. It was like a bunch of roller coaster fans, who just keep getting on to the ride. We were going to get off at Newtown Road, grab some lunch and head back, but the lines at that station were insane. Who says Virginia Beach isn't ready for light rail? Downtown was pretty hopping today, and i'm sure that MacArthur Mall got a big boost from the Tide. We got off at MacArthur Square and ate at the mall.

BTW, HRT really needs to put up some bus shelters at the affected Tide stops. The EVMC stop has 5 buses, making it a decent transfer station, but there's just a sign on Colley Avenue. No shelter, no benches, no trees, nothing.

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I just got off a max capacity train at MacArthur square.. got on a military highway because newtown road park and ride was full and the line wrapped around the block.. Trains still running frequently even though it's a Sunday. We may have something here guys.

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The free rides are in effect until August 29, so I'll be interested to see how the numbers look once HRT starts charging. Regardless, that's awesome, and I wish it the utmost success.

It feels good to see this area start realizing its potential as a mid-major city. The sooner this thing goes into VB, the better. Even if it goes to say, Town Center or Lynnhaven, then I'd say it would be worth it.

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11 am on a Wednesday at EVMC stop, the Tide was mostly full, no seats available. About 1/3 of the people riding got off at the end stop. Still a lot of joyriders. Even though it is awesome that there are so many riders, i can't wait until next week so maybe i can sit down on the Tide for a change. :thumbsup:

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Yea, I'm thinking there are a bunch of people just riding the thing all day.

I know people who are actually using it to commute to work. One person said they will stop when it's no longer free, they are doing it more for the novelty. It actually adds a good amount of time to their commute.

Still it's pretty amusing. I rode it Thursday evening after a friend said it was open. Some friends and myself took it last night from the York Street station to MacArthur. Went to Hells Kitchen. Then rode it back to finish up working on projects @ the hackerspace on Bute.

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I can see the line from my window on Botetourt Street. Even at 10:00pm last night (Monday night) the train looked full going to EVMS. I thought for sure at that time, the trains would be empty going in that direction.

We rode it again tonight from near my workplace (Macarthur Station) back to York Street to bring a MS Visio CD over to the hackerspace. There was a lot of people boarding at the MacArthur station headed towards Newtown. The train was pretty loaded with people when it arrived at MacArthur station heading towards EVMS. Not sure how many riders would really need to get off at those two stops. Monticello let off very few, as did York Street. Maybe they were all going to EVMS, but I'm thinking joy riding.

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let's be honest.....Yes. I live in NYC and I have pretty much for the bulk of my life, minus the time in the 757, but don't you want to say

"bam!!!! in yo face comparable metros.....we have a train!!!!!

...aight...going back to my nyc subway that has been shutdown for reasons involving Hurricane Irene.. :(

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I agree most in Norfolk(and metro) are proud about the light rail we have to use, I agree some may even be saying "Bam, in your face" out loud in general, not aimed at anyplace having light rail now. We have a million miles to go to even speak to high of our light rail system to compete with Philly and NYC and Boston and Washington D.C! Light Rail is a small/huge step for Norfolk and the metro. The Hurricane put a damper on the opening of it being till tomorrow it is free and 2 days were lost but, I'm proud of the progress Norfolk,VA has made.

And hopefully VA Beach and it's residents will join in for the bettering of transportation locally and add light rail to add to the ability to get humans around which will HELP tourism! We as a metro must either get bigger or perish because we can't continue being dependent on the military/government $! Light Rail will help with business people commuting as well as students and business owners bring what BIG CITIES have to get people from point A to point B! In 10/20 years, I expect Norfolk and the metro if the city leaders use there minds to better the area and not themselves as a metro that can bring more jobs and excitement for future generations to come!!! LGNM

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I say "BAM", but not sure how affective it would be or convincing. I said it before and I will say it again, Norfolk has to stop trying to compete with Va.beach. Their government may not be the ones portraying it, but their citizens clearly wants no parts of Norfolk. I guess there is real reason for that.

What I'm hoping to happen from this is that Norfolk wakes up and realizes a real future for its city. In the past years, they have done so many things wrong, even the basics of running the city. LRT is great, but what will it do for your city? Just being first isn't an excuse to build such a thing, but if you using this to turn a corner to a more focused and better Norfolk, then i'm on board. I'm afraid they are pinning the hopes of LRT on if Va. beach and other cities will jump on, and I do not think that should be their focus. Everything points to that IMO.

Now is the time to jump on a lot of Urban's ideas that he has for city. The city should prioritize itself around those types of ideas, next starting with sp quadrant. We have to find a reason for people to be part of TOD. That includes, centralizing business and city resources. For instance, with the advent of LRT, moving NHRA, the police headquarters, and other city services from out of DT is a BADDDDD thing... You will additionally put LRT at a bigger disadvantage.

Considering Va.beach is not likely to join this undertaking in our near future, its now time to consider additional suggestions like expanding to ODU, NOB, and the airport. Really start to think how wards corner and little creek can be transformed to a real "uptown" and connect to that as well, maybe even ocean view. Its potential, but people make a good point although I believe its a little premature, it goes nowhere. I didn't expect the starterline to go anywhere, but other people do not understand that. But moving forward, where does it go and why? We all know odu and NOB are logical, but it still connects to no where but DT. DT can be somewhere, they just have be proactive of making it a place people want to come to again. Scope is a good start (about time), admirals and tides games always brings a good amount of people. The mall hides a lot of activity, so we will see.

Edited by brikkman
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FYI, the Tide and the ferry were up and running on Sunday afternoon, but the buses didn't run until Monday. It should be easier to make a few docks and 7 miles of tracks fit for transit than all the streets in Hampton Roads.

Edited by jeffconn
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Good points Brik, I think you said some key things city leaders for NORFOLK should consider. It's clear Norfolk is the financial center of the metro anyway. Va BEach is like the girl who's cute but not as smart as the other girl. Norfolk may not be as pretty(on the surface) as Va Beach but, like the better girl, NORFOLK has character. I was born in Norfolk and actually lived in Va Beach as well as Portsmouth and Chesapeake and Suffolk,VA! What Norfolk has then other cities don't to me is a history that's pure urban. I LOVE Ghent and Ocean View and all parts Norfolk. I was born in what is called Diggs Park not exactly Ghent but, even there has a character. Most of the people are good people, and only a few give ALL low income areas bad reps but, 98% who live there are honest good humans.

My point, Norfolk has some wonderful people who if explained a plan to bring more jobs and things to do will back it. Norfolk somewhat has a culture. Arts and museums and festivals like Greekfest, are looked forward to especially Harborfest! Focusing on Norfolk will eventually put Va BEach in a place were it will need Norfolk. Va BEach is still a suburb of Norfolk and it would take years to change that and if Norfolk's city leaders are smart they would know the way to keep that as the case is what Brik stated, FOCUS on Norfolk, put light rail were it's wanted. Va BEach will soon have to have it or NEED IT to compete with what it is going to provide Norfolk, another thing Va BEach doesnt have along with the character Norfolk has and Va Beach and its cities within cities doesn't. I like Va BEach to but, from the stiff rules at the oceanfront keeping certain folks away and the attitude toward a stronger region that follows Norfolk as its center not on there agenda, I see the city leaders as selfish and misleading to its citizens in terms of what best for Va Beach and thats supporting Norfolk in the past and present and joinging forces to create a better metro which ultimately benefits both individual cities!!! LGNM

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I think the biggiest disjustice NOrfolk does to its citizens is coming half way short of a project. For instance, Granby tower was the only project slated that was never changed. Every other project as of late went from great to "ehy" as it approached construction. I'm not sure if you can blame that entirely on the city, but the results are the same and looked upon the same. Waterside is another example and Sp. Quad is the biggiest. Make a decision city, be urban or not. That's why I was so passive about LRT. Although I thought it was a great idea, I'm not sure the city's vision supports it. Personally, with the money was used, I think they did a good job mapping it out. I'm not sure how much extra could have been used to extend to the airport or at least janaf from the overruns, but something wasn't right with that. This is the time the city needs to step back and say, our city core will be urban and every project that that is slated for development should include the following things......IMO, you can't have LRT and still think about building suburban structures.

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