NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) — Hampton Roads Transit is planning to replace almost half of its 300-bus fleet by 2023, radically changing the average age of a bus running throughout Hampton Roads.

"The bottom line is that is our number one capital project," said William Harrell, HRT President and CEO.

HRT discussed its 6-year capital improvement plan at a meeting Thursday, highlighting the need to get older buses off the streets.

"Our buses were over 10 years old [on average], we had a lot of breakdowns, missed trips and buses that missed customers," Harrell said. "That's not a desirable place to be, and we're committed to serving our customers."

HRT projects to spend about $17 million in capital funds each year on the bus replacements. The majority of this money comes from state and federal grants. Bus replacements will drop off significantly after the fiscal year 2023, which Harrell said opens up new opportunities for technology and facility improvements.

"I would say the Hampton Roads Transit you'll see in a few years will be very different from today's system," he said.

Harrell said he hopes to expand the mobile payment pilot program to the entire HRT system in 2020, letting customers buy tickets through their phones.

The bus replacements will lower the average age of a bus in the fleet from about 10 years to 7 years. HRT is anticipating some adjustments to the projections in the summer of 2019, as state laws regarding which transportation projects receive funding have changed.

An electric bus pilot program is also listed on the HRT Capital Improvement Plan.

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