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Norfolk Light Rail and Transit


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I agree Norfolk needs to forge ahead, esp. with DT. They've given up on two high-profile projects, either indefinitely (the Westin) or for good (Granby Tower), and Waterside's future is on indefinite hold. Doesn't look good on paper.

And I also agree Norfolk needs to stop waiting on VB to help them on other projects and move out on their own. They'll need VB's help on light rail, but a lot of stuff, they gotta stop trying to compete and build themselves as the financial district.

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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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Just for information. HRT is posting their previous day ridership numbers every day on their home page. Ridership numbers have been in the high five thousand to upper six thousands, well over double the projected ridership figures. The numbers have also steadily increased for three straight days. This is during regular service with fare required. Numbers might fall some but probably not much considering baseball games are going to help keep the numbers up for a little while. I'm waiting to see the ridership numbers after a weekend tides game to see the impact it has on the days numbers.

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I pass under the Brambleton/ NSU Station a couple of times a day; Frogger has begun.

Yes, frogger has definitely started, at a high frequency as well.

Man, they made a really bad decision with that setup when you consider the area. There is virtually nothing west of that station in terms residents or places residents frequent. all of that is east/north of the station. Someone will be hit soon enough, might happen this weekend with the whole labor day classic that is coming to town. No rain scheduled either, its going to be a problem...

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Rode it again today. EVMC to DT for lunch. Was partially full, but after listening to conversations, they were mostly joy riders. A couple of people got on when we got on and off. Some seem to be coming from evmc and other places. I know a few people transferred from a bus which I thought was pretty cool. Anyway, got off at the Monticello stop to eat lunch at bite (I would not recommend by the way). A few people got off and some hop on. Ate lunch, hopped the train going back to evmc/fort norfolk, but had to wait a train or two because it was just too packed considering I was working that day. Didn't want to feel crowed with a shirt and tie on you know? So we waited for the next train, still full partially, but we were able to get on, again a few people got off, including some NSU freshmen. How do I know, they were new fresh NSU shirts, lol. Only freshmen go that hard with school gear. Again, a few joy riders, this was for a fact because a few ladies were talking about the homes around Hague and how they were so nice, etc... It was funny, you would think they have never been to Norfolk at all, lol. When we got off, so did several people and a few more boarded.

This write up was about seeing what the 6000+ day ridership was about. I was trying to gauge how many of them were just joy rider’s vs actual riders or people figuring out how to work it in their commute. One thing is for sure, the train that we decided to skip, was full like opening day and the second was considerably packed. Its a new day for Norfolk, hope it is well received into the future.

Again, they need to fix that light priority issue. That train should not stop at bousch street every time. Each of the times I road it, that was the case. Maybe its not working correctly?

Edited by brikkman
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Yes, frogger has definitely started, at a high frequency as well.

Man, they made a really bad decision with that setup

"They" being Norfolk State University. The original plans for the NSU station was to have the stairs and elevators on the NSU side of the bridge over Brambleton. NSU insisted that they change it because they felt light-rail would adversely affect security at the campus. Something about the NSU station would provide easy access to the criminal element that rides light rail. HRT paid almost $7 million to accommodate NSU's demands and brought frogger to Brambleton Blvd. Here's an article.

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"They" being Norfolk State University. The original plans for the NSU station was to have the stairs and elevators on the NSU side of the bridge over Brambleton. NSU insisted that they change it because they felt light-rail would adversely affect security at the campus. Something about the NSU station would provide easy access to the criminal element that rides light rail. HRT paid almost $7 million to accommodate NSU's demands and brought frogger to Brambleton Blvd. Here's an article.

This is where the city should have put down their foot and said no. The NSU station will probably be mostly NSU students going downtown or coming in who now have to walk across a very busy road to get to the campus. And it is bad for the local community (which NSU hates anyway). Seriously, criminals are not going to rob someone and then run over to the LRT station and wait 15 minutes for a train. Oh well, maybe they will develop something on that lot that the station is on.

Overall, the tide is nice. I have to admit I was doom and gloom to start with but in researching other transit systems (and public road systems) it is basically the same story: everything will cost 2-3 times more than they say it will. I have been on it most days but have yet to see them start checking for tickets. I guess they are trying to play nice to get rider numbers up? Lots of people on bikes and bus riders on it as well so looks like it could be the backbone to a better transit system overall.

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Up in D.C metro and when I come here, I get bothered. WHY? Our area has so much potential but, I feel the politics bring alot here. Now, as for light rail, I feel our area should and may want to expand it but, the dollars needed may not exist. What makes light rail great is it can be a tool to move people around from there jobs to home and back,over and over. That said, we don't have the advantages of metros like Northern VA and MD/D.C! Am i saying light rail isn't a good thing, NO!! I love light rail and what its meant thus far is excitement and pride for long living residents!

That said, we need more jobs like here in the D.C metro that pay higher salaries. Urban places are made because there are jobs. When in D.C what makes it seem better is the number of people and jobs, otherwise Norfolk has beauty and water everywhere, good schools(metro wise) and more! Norfolk has much to offer we just need more. One day I hope our area is where people come for jobs cause when that happens, we will see things like getting light rail as not such a big deal, and to me, thats a good thing when we see new awesome things like, :Oh, we have another..." or, we say nothing at all because its normal. LOve light rail, great addition to Norfolk, lets add jobs(better paying to keep college grads)!!!

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Up in D.C metro and when I come here, I get bothered. WHY? Our area has so much potential but, I feel the politics bring alot here. Now, as for light rail, I feel our area should and may want to expand it but, the dollars needed may not exist. What makes light rail great is it can be a tool to move people around from there jobs to home and back,over and over. That said, we don't have the advantages of metros like Northern VA and MD/D.C! Am i saying light rail isn't a good thing, NO!! I love light rail and what its meant thus far is excitement and pride for long living residents!

That said, we need more jobs like here in the D.C metro that pay higher salaries. Urban places are made because there are jobs. When in D.C what makes it seem better is the number of people and jobs, otherwise Norfolk has beauty and water everywhere, good schools(metro wise) and more! Norfolk has much to offer we just need more. One day I hope our area is where people come for jobs cause when that happens, we will see things like getting light rail as not such a big deal, and to me, thats a good thing when we see new awesome things like, :Oh, we have another..." or, we say nothing at all because its normal. LOve light rail, great addition to Norfolk, lets add jobs(better paying to keep college grads)!!!

This is why I think it is more important for Norfolk to focus on rail more internally rather than as a region. As a region it would make more sense to build a rail hub near downtown and run commuter rail to satellite locations within the metro, then having local rail lines running within the city to strengthen the city and help make it a desirable commuting urban city. Also with connecting to its surroundings, VB would be easy because that city is planning on making the VaBeach Blvd its urban corridor basically.

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I could see what you feel urbanlife is an efficient way and beneficial for the metro!! Norfolk I think has yet to see how important it is as a city compared to the surrounding cities, no disrespect intended. Chesapeake, Va Beach, Portsmouth and the Peninsula cities have done some wonderful things to make there cities better over the years. That said, Norfolk is the urban center of the metro while Portsmouth is a wonderful compliment to Norfolk as well. Again, I agree with your above comments urbanlife and previous ones regarding what Norfolk should Focus on because to me, Norfolk is the Peyton Manning of our area and as Norfolk does or doesn't go, we will follow as metro because the city of Va Beaches residents don't seem ok with the idea of making there city to urban! LGNM

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I took my first ride yesterday on the Tide. I parked and got on at the Newtown station and took a round trip to EVMS and back. The first thing I noticed was there is no shelter for this station which I found a bit odd considering it's the largest one on the route. I guess you better have an umbrella if you intend to ride if it's raining. :whistling: There were quite a few people getting on and I was curious to see where most folks were going. Probably 90% of folks got off at Harbor Park for a game. I noticed on the twisty turns on downtown roads this noise which sounded like rubber on steel but I'm not sure. During my short trip there and back, two times new drivers got on to take over which seemed a little odd considering it was such a short trip. And I guess I was hoping for it to accelerate to speeds I have experienced on the DC Metro speeds but alas it didn't quite make it lol. Overall, it was a lot of fun though. I really wish the line could have linked Ghent to DT and over to at least Town Center but maybe in time this will happen.

Edited by urbanvb
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HRT's website says 5,500 rode Sunday, so that's about 29,000 for the first paid weekend, with Monday's numbers yet to be counted. Granted, it was a holiday weekend, I still believe this will become successful, esp. as they expand. It could be what this region needs to work together.

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A drop to 5500, sounds about right, or at least I was expecting that. I'm hoping the numbers hover around 4000 to 6000 daily. If the system can sustain those numbers, its proof that it is worth the regions time to look into.

Norfolk has transit cops, cooool, lol. Never thought I would see the day that Norfolk would have transit cops. A couple got on when I was riding with my son the other day. We had a public transportation day. anyway, they just rode, they did not check any tickets, so I guess they were just intimidating people or checking things out. They were real serious about looking serious, lol. For the most part, I've seen people purchase tickets, and the few who said that they didn't, didn' t know they had to pay as they thought I was still free. My thoughts about it is this..for where it goes currently, I say raise the ticket price to 1.75 and make it round trip until it expands. If you are a va.beach residents just looking to come to dt to hang for the afternoon, that sounds much much more attractive IMO. NSU students as I predicted are huge riders of the system. Each time I got on and off, they were entering and exiting. This system is a win win for NSU all the way around and I can't see why they fought the city like that to move the station. It benefits them all around because of crappy parking and gives their semesterly freshman a direct mode of transportation to where they will frequent the most, McArthur Center. Really bad decision, the frogger pattern is definitely in heavy use. Harbor park, probably the coolest stop of them all considering the potential. Game days are PACKKKKKED with peopel exiting and entering from the game. I must admit, I'm not a fan of the drunk, loud, and inconsiderate crowd, but again, A++++ stop. Even more reason to redevelop the area in conjunction with waterside to make it a well traveled area. Maybe they can take some Verizon center cliental from va.beach if they open it up for outside concert and events. Lots to think about in general, but overall, I'm very excited for Norfolk. My next hope for this system is ODU and the airport. Practically speaking, ODU is probably a better expansion than the airport, but having the availability of rail directly from the airport is beneficial for a lot of people. Again, I do not think they should focus on va.beach right now, focus more of bring it up military hwy up to the airport, then back around to odu. In fact, make that one complete expansion.

Edited by brikkman
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I dont really think the fares are for making money for the Tide, i think its to keep the bums off of it while nurturing the Transient-Oriented Development that is the true payoff-promise for the Tide.

According to the Wikipedia article below, the Tide's costs to build were $318 million. Annual maintenance is expected to cost $6.2 million. At a daily ridership of 2,900 riders per day, the numbers breakdown like this:

2900 X $1.50 = $4,350 dollars per day
$318,000,000 / $4,350 dollars per day = 73,103 days to pay cost of building / 365 days =
200 years to payback cost to build
In 20 years they expect it to be 7,200 riders. I know the costs will go up, but just for fun, im using todays fare.
7,200 X $1.50 = $10,800 per day = 29,444 days to pay cost of building / 365 days =
80 years to payback cost to build
If annual maintenance costs $6.2 million, and the ridership is at 2900, $4350 * 365 days =
$1,587,750 in fare revenue per year
, still way below the costs. At 7200 riders, $10,800 per day * 365 days =
$3,942,000 in fare revenue per year.
This still doesnt pay for what the maintenance costs are going to be for next year.

Since the annual costs of maintaining the tide is going to continue to be more costly than the revenue generated by it, ridership alone will never pay for the Tide. Even if the fares are raised over the years, the cost to maintain the Tide will increase as well. Therefore i maintain that we should keep down the fares low enough to keep it a convenience but high enough to keep off the riff-raff. Salt Lake City has a free fare within their core Central Business District and i would like our system to evolve to something like that at some point.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tide_Light_Rail

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BTW I talked to a police officer on Friday. They are being paid overtime to ride the Tide (and cops are lining up for shifts) and will continue to do so for at least 6 months. He told me how much but i was drinking and cant remember exactly what was said. I believe it was $25 an hour. I think he also says the overtime varies based on the gig that they're working.

Their goal is to check 1-in-10 riders. I didnt think to ask if they are achieving that rate at this time.

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I dont really think the fares are for making money for the Tide, i think its to keep the bums off of it while nurturing the Transient-Oriented Development that is the true payoff-promise for the Tide.

According to the Wikipedia article below, the Tide's costs to build were $318 million. Annual maintenance is expected to cost $6.2 million. At a daily ridership of 2,900 riders per day, the numbers breakdown like this:

2900 X $1.50 = $4,350 dollars per day
$318,000,000 / $4,350 dollars per day = 73,103 days to pay cost of building / 365 days =
200 years to payback cost to build
In 20 years they expect it to be 7,200 riders. I know the costs will go up, but just for fun, im using todays fare.
7,200 X $1.50 = $10,800 per day = 29,444 days to pay cost of building / 365 days =
80 years to payback cost to build
If annual maintenance costs $6.2 million, and the ridership is at 2900, $4350 * 365 days =
$1,587,750 in fare revenue per year
, still way below the costs. At 7200 riders, $10,800 per day * 365 days =
$3,942,000 in fare revenue per year.
This still doesnt pay for what the maintenance costs are going to be for next year.

Since the annual costs of maintaining the tide is going to continue to be more costly than the revenue generated by it, ridership alone will never pay for the Tide. Even if the fares are raised over the years, the cost to maintain the Tide will increase as well. Therefore i maintain that we should keep down the fares low enough to keep it a convenience but high enough to keep off the riff-raff. Salt Lake City has a free fare within their core Central Business District and i would like our system to evolve to something like that at some point.

http://en.wikipedia....Tide_Light_Rail

It's an interesting analysis, but no one ever said the light-rail would be profitable. It was never intended to be. There is no question - light rail is government-subsidized transportation. But then, so is I-264. As you stated, the big payoff is Transit-Oriented Development. More generally, light-rail is a land planning tool. It helps to minimize urban sprawl by concentrating development around transit stations.

Please avoid the the mindset that light-rail must be pay for itself to be sucessful. This is a red-herring the anti-light-rail people use.

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