Gas too expensive? Try Mass Transit.

By • on May 24, 2008

hampton_roads_tranistWith gasoline being so expensive I thought that I would look into the feasibility of using mass transit. Since I have recently retired I thought it would be nice if I could get around town without having to drive myself. The only mass transit we have in our area (Hampton Roads, Virginia) is Hampton Roads Transit. HRT consists mainly of buses. There is a ferry service across the Elizabeth river from Portsmouth to Norfolk and HRT is building a light rail route which has yet to be completed. So buses are the main means of conveyance in the Hampton Roads area. There is a nifty tool on the HRT web site that utilizes Google Maps to calculate the bus routes for travel to any destination. So I put my home address in the box and chose Atlantic Avenue in Virginia Beach as my destination. The route calculated by Google Maps showed that I would have to take three different buses, transferring from one to the other. A cost analysis told me that it would cost me $3.00 vs $14.50 for driving. Quite a savings in gas I thought.

But when I looked at the duration of the trip I was astounded to see that it would take me 3 hours and 51 minutes  to reach my destination, one way. Whoa nelly! To go 28 miles one way would take me almost 4 hours! That is a total of 8 hours just to go to Atlantic Ave and then immediately turn around and go back. If I planned on staying around for a couple of hours I could count on getting back home after dark, if at all. Apparently the buses stop a couple dozen times along the route to pickup and drop off passengers. If I drove instead of took the bus it would cost me $11.50 more but would only take about 44 minutes according to Google Maps. So basically mass transit around here is a wash unless you have all day to get there or are only going a short distance. In other words HRT is completely useless to me. I find it amazing that a large metropolitan area such as Hampton Roads has such a woefully inadequate regional transit system. Hopefully the impetus of rising gasoline prices will spur renewed interest in regional transit.

With the price of gasoline climbing steadily and no other viable option for travel other than driving yourself or taking a cab, I have a great idea. The State of Virginia and the cities of Hampton Roads should convert at least one lane of every major highway in the area into a bike lane. I know I could pedal 28 miles in less than two hours and save myself $14.50. That could pay for a couple of tubes of Bengay with money to spare. It would also be great exercise and greatly reduce pollution. It would be a great way to get around the area during favorable weather. So unless regional transit vastly improves in this area or the price of gasoline drops dramatically I will be dusting off my bike and petitioning my local senators and congressmen to increase the bike lanes in Hampton Roads dramatically.

Comments

By Henry Ryto on May 25th, 2008 at 9:15 am

Where are you trying to get to Atlantic Avenue from? When the new MAX service comes online next month (June 16), there will be an express bus from Cedar Drove (downtown Norfolk’s TC) to 19th & Pacific (Dome site).

In addition, the Google service isn’t totally reliable. As a regular bus rider, it’s produced a couple routings for me that were laughable.

Yes, HRT is often slower than dirving, but I have trouble with that 3:51 figure.

Finally, the bus in your picture is an Orion, oldest of the forty-foot models used on the Southside. It’s a rustbucket, but it’s windows open fully, allowing you a nice breeze in this weather.

Henry Ryto, Chairman, HRT’s User Citizen Advisory Committee (UCAC)

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By mtefft on May 25th, 2008 at 9:39 am

Thanks for the comment. You can try the Google map yourself. I live in Western Branch and I got 3 hours and 40 minutes plus 11 minutes walking. That is for a 28 mile route. I also question the quote of $14.50 vs the $3.00 HRT cost. Even if gas is at $4.00 a gallon it should not cost me $14.50. They must be figuring in other costs also. I would love to use HRT, it just doesn’t seem feasible to me for now. I hope there will be more express bus routes.

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By Henry Ryto on May 25th, 2008 at 10:04 am

Oops: Cedar Grove, not “Cedar Drove.”

Part of your problem is that you’re in Chesapeake. The City doesn’t care enough to even send a sitting Councilman to HRT as a Commissioner. You have former Councilman Joe Newman and Delegate Lionell Spruill.

From Western Branch, shoot for Cedar Grove starting June 16 and take the 960 (MAX) to the Oceanfront.

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By mtefft on May 25th, 2008 at 10:28 am

Thanks for the information. I may have to take up the issue of Chesapeake not sending a sitting Councilman to HRT with the city council.

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By Reid Greenmun on June 17th, 2009 at 9:23 pm

You want to increase traffic congestion to turn roadway lanes into BIKE PATHS? That is pretty selfish, don’t you think? Since you retired you are willing to make the commute worse for others?

How do you propose you pay for these hundrends of millions of dollars of roadways you seek to take away from the drivers that paid for them? Drivers that paid the Federal and State gas taxe used to pay for the roads and highways?

How much a a toll are you willing to pay to use these special bike lanes you want?

Are you willing to pay an cost for a bike licence that will be fair in relation to the services you are asking for?

Or are you really asking for new bike lanes that others – who are not bike riders – to pay for?

Just asking.

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By Michael Tefft on June 17th, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Reid. Apparently you have a hard time when it comes to sarcasm. Apparently the reference to Bengay eluded you. I was trying to make the point that a bike trail would be a better option than the current mass transit system that I was criticising. BTW, I was one of the drivers that paid the state and federal taxes that built the roads. I paid it for over 40 years. So I dare say I have paid for the roads more than you have. And I would be willing to pay a toll for the bike lanes. It would be cheaper than paying for gas or the fares the transit system charges now. And a bike lane would not have to actually replace an existing land. It could be build along side the lane and would actually alleviate heavy congestion. Just saying.
.-= Michael Tefft´s last blog ..First they register your guns, then they confiscate them. =-.

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