- Present: Bruce Drees, Carolyn McPherson, Carolyn Caywood, Dan Koach, Emily Fisher, Mike Aschkenas, Nancy Craft, Todd Solomon. Guests: Jim Spore, Mark Schnaufer, Ray Amoruso, Alesia Cain.
- Next meeting Monday, March 5, 5:30pm, Virginia Beach Community Development Corporation office, 2400 Potters Road, Suite 300.
- Carolyn McPherson introduced us and explained how we grew out of Envision Transportation.
- Nancy Craft created a Powerpoint of our research and discussions. Dan Koach presented it and general conversation followed.
- Dan emphasized that our strategy is to attract new ridership that chooses public transit. We see young people as the most likely demographic and technology as what will attract them. The Powerpoint spells this out.
Some things we learned:
- HRT, unlike similar organizations, does not have a dedicated revenue stream. It is dependent on the fare box, funding formulas from state and federal and services purchased by the cities. There's no capital budget. HRT seeks grants. VB is the one city that has funded new services since the economic downturn.
- HRT is now allowing one-night over-night parking for the Tide for people who work the night shift. Amtrak has decided that its train will leave Harbor Park at 5:30am before the Tide is running. The decision on whether to run a Tide car to meet the train is up to Norfolk, but the return on investment is questionable.
- Virginia Beach has reduced the minimum required parking spaces within the last 6 months, which we all applaud. Many businesses are not convinced that they can cut back on parking spaces so there is more resistance to lowering the maximum allowed.
- The light rail study is recalibrating the numbers of projected riders to take into account current Tide ridership.
- The bus route serving the airport is more designed for employees than passengers. There are about a thousand people working at the airport, including TSA and concessions. The airport counts on revenue from its parking and is concerned about anything that might impact that.
- The Federal Surface Transportation bill is H.R.7 aka “The American Energy and Jobs Infrastructure” act. According to Thomas, H.R.7 Latest Title: American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012 Sponsor: Rep Mica, John L. [FL-7] (introduced 1/31/2012) Cosponsors (1) Latest Major Action: 2/2/2012 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by Voice Vote. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.7: and http://atfiles.org/files/pdf/house-transportation-preview.pdf
- If signed into law, the House version would cut off the dedicated funding that public transportation receives from the national gas tax. It would also affect pedestrians and cyclists. http://americabikes.org/transportation2012/top-10-reasons/ Its effect on HRT would be to end capital projects. HRT has a maintenance backlog dating back to the merger of TRT and PENTRAN. Contact your representative. Here's the Senate bill.
- HRT is pursuing an open source solution to a phone app for real-time bus arrival information. The data was in proprietary systems but they have figured out how to extract it and are pushing it out to hackers to see what they can come up with. This would be a phone app – the cost of electronic signage is 12 signs for $400,000. WIFI would cost about $2000 per bus, but would require a staff person for troubleshooting, another server, and other costs. HRT puts a higher priority on getting every bus equipped with an automatic passenger counter.
- Are there any grants to help bring technology to the under-served that HRT might tap?
- Fuel is the biggest cost for HRT. But hybrid buses were a maintenance nightmare.
- HRT hopes GO-Pass will build a riding habit among the young. Wave is attracting by-choice riders. http://gohrt.com/fares/gopass365/ http://gohrt.com/fares/vb-wave-fares/
- Another thing HRT hopes to have soon is racks with bus schedules on every bus. And more park-and-rid locations are needed.
- In the long term, change in land use to higher densities will create the necessary ridership. However, it's possible that the tunnel tolls may motivate changes in transportation choice, or even a referendum to fund public transit as an alternative.
- Since the city is budgeting for some route increases like the express route 20, CVT members can speak to this at the upcoming budget hearings.
- A website that compares how tax funds subsidize different modes of transportation is the Center for Transportation Excellence http://cfte.org/
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