Norfolk, Va. – Hampton Roads Transit will increase the frequency of its bus service through the Midtown and Downtown tunnels and begin river ferry service one hour earlier for commuters next summer under a deal reached Thursday with the developers of the Midtown Tunnel project.
The agency’s governing board approved a contract with Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC) that provides HRT with an initial $2.1 million to pay for 15-minute service frequencies for buses during rush hours, some seven day a week and evening bus service, and a 6 a.m. start for the Elizabeth River Ferry, an hour earlier than today. The contract allows for inflation-driven increases.
“This is a terrific opportunity for HRT to help commuters,” said William Harrell, president and CEO of Hampton Roads Transit. “We appreciate the opportunity to provide commuters an option to crossing the river in this partnership with Elizabeth River Crossings.”
Service improvements will be made on local routes 44, 45 and 47. While no new routes will be added, existing routes 45 and 47 will run more often during rush hours. Routes 44 and 47 will run longer into the evenings. In order to accommodate the changes, HRT will purchase eight buses that it will use for the enhanced service.
More frequent service will help commuters who want options to driving alone and paying tolls which are scheduled to begin Feb. 1. Because of earlier legal challenges surrounding the tunnel project and the uncertainty they imposed, HRT will start the service in the summer of 2014.
ERC is the consortium that is building a new Midtown Tunnel, refurbishing the Downtown Tunnel, and extending the Martin Luther King Freeway from London Boulevard to I-264. Tolls are part of the complex financial deal necessary to build the project. Toll rates vary with the time of day a vehicle crosses the river and the type of vehicle used. Prices will be higher during peak times.