Va. Beach hopes to make drastic improvements to public transportation

For the past three years the amount of people riding public transportation in Virginia Beach has dropped.

VIRGINIA BEACH - VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- For the past three years the amount of people riding public transportation in Virginia Beach has dropped.

The city says it’s up to them to give riders a better, more dependable service. On Tuesday they provided the public an update on a 10-year transportation improvement plan.

An HRT rider, who only goes by Marilyn, says these improvements can’t come soon enough. She rides the bus every day to the boardwalk for work. She says at times it can be very frustrating.

“The bus being late, and if the bus is late or the bus breaks down then we have to wait a whole other hour, 30 minutes, for the next bus to come, they don’t send out another bus,” said Marilyn.

Marilyn says when the bus is late it’s not just letting her down but all her co-workers.

“A lot of the employees don’t understand, they want you to be at work, regardless they want you to be at work,” said Marilyn.

The city says they want to help but they can’t do it alone.

“The number one challenge by far is for the six cities to be on the same page because it is a network,” said Transportation Manager Brian Solis.

Virginia Beach is taking the first steps, vowing to upgrade their bus stops. Out of the 508 stops city wide, only 27 of them have shelters

“We are looking at quadrupling the number of bus shelters in Virginia Beach,” said Solis.

The city also has plans to speed up services and extend hours along the more popular routes like between downtown Norfolk and the Oceanfront. Kyle Green is one of an estimated 1.1 million people who take that route each year.

“I was over by Norfolk and I almost waited almost 25 to 30 minutes for a bus ride so I know how inconvenient it can be,” said Green.

Green says he’d like to see HRT copy Uber’s lead and incorporate the latest technology.

“I think Uber has taken over for that fact that they are on time and you can track them on your phone,” said Green.

The city says they are looking into incorporating smart phones into the bus system, possibly even allowing riders to pay by phone.

The city also wants to build an Oceanfront Transportation Center, where buses, Amtrak, taxis, Uber and the Megabus all converge. The Megabus had nearly two thousand riders in its first two months.

“In talking with Megabus, operating out of southern California, they believe there is enough to have a home here for a long period of time,” said Solis.

The city plans to give another update by the end of the year on this 10-year transportation project and in that meeting they plan to go into more detail about how they hope to pay for all these improvements.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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