Norfolk light rail besting ridership forecasts

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NORFOLK, Va. – Norfolk’s 7.4-mile light rail line, which began service six months ago, has drawn an average of 4,642 riders on weekdays, 4,850 on Saturdays, and 2,099 on Sundays, the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot has reported. About 2,900 weekday riders had been forecast.
Hampton Roads Transit President and CEO Philip Shucet predicted that The Tide line would hit its 20-year projection of 7,200 daily rides within three years. Since it opened on Aug. 19, 2011, riders have taken nearly 750,000 trips on the line.
Ray Amoruso, Hampton Roads Transit’s chief planning and development officer, said, “Light rail has been a beacon for this organization to attract new customers. I also think it’s gotten citizens of this region more focused on transportation choice, that there are choices beyond the single-occupant automobile.”
Ken Scott was skeptical when the light rail was being planned and built. As a Norfolk citizen, he worried about the impact on taxpayers. As a resident of a neighborhood adjacent to the rail line, he was frustrated by construction and detours getting to his home. “I take that all back now,” Scott said. “It’s a great service.”
Resident Adelia Green, said “It takes a little more time, but it’s worth it, not dealing with traffic in and out of Norfolk every day,” she said. Green’s commute is paid for by her employer, Norfolk Southern Corp. NS is one of 13 businesses and institutions to enter into agreements with Hampton Roads Transit to pay a fee that allows their employees and students to ride rail, buses, and ferries for free. Among the largest are the city of Norfolk, Old Dominion University, Tidewater Community College, and Norfolk State University. In all, nearly 70,000 people can ride for free while HRT collects more than $700,000 a year.
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