HRT Survey: Many Tide riders on Newtown Road stop are from Virginia Beach

According to HRT’s new survey of more than 3,000 light rail riders, 61% of all people who get on at Newtown Road are residents of Virginia Beach.

“We almost didn’t get a parking space, so it’s obviously popular,” said Virginia Beach Tide rider Margaret Pisone.  “It would be great if it could come further into Virginia Beach.  I’d love it.”

The survey said 59 percent of the people they surveyed said the biggest improvement light rail needs is an extension into Virginia Beach.

“That is easily the number one question: When are we going to expand?” said HRT Spokesperson Tom Holden, who said the light rail origin and destination survey was done at the Federal Transit Authority’s request.  It is a supplemental piece to the Virginia Beach light rail extension study.

“It’s important information to have about who’s using it and where we’re going,” Holden said.

The study also comes ahead of the light rail referendum for Beach voters.  If it passes in November, the resort city will have the green light to analyze light rail’s benefits to the Beach.

“What this says to me is I hope the referendum will pass so we can get through the evaluation to see if we can extend light rail into Virginia Beach,” said Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms.  “I think Town Center is just sitting there waiting to flourish more than it is if that line comes from Norfolk to Virginia Beach.”

While passage of the referendum doesn’t mean light rail’s a done deal, Sessoms thinks it would be a good indicator.

“I venture to say if the referendum should pass and the federal money is available, we have a pretty good shot of bringing light rail to Virginia Beach,” Sessoms said.

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