HRT modifies Suffolk routes

Published 9:46 pm Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Changes to the Hampton Roads Transit bus routes in Suffolk are coming, and you can get informed about them Thursday and Friday.

The route alterations, which go into effect Monday, were implemented by HRT after taking over operation of the bus service from the city.

“The basic reasons for the changes are to improve safety and on-time performance of the routes,” Tom Holden, spokesman for HRT, said. “The old system was pretty informal by transit standards, and in its informality it kind of led to certain arrangements that were really not acceptable.”

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For example, one route sometimes went down a dead-end street and had to back up to exit the neighborhood — extremely dangerous for a bus with blind spots behind and to the sides, Holden said. Some routes also snaked through clogged parking lots to go past the front doors of shopping locations such as Big Lots and Walmart, resulting in a safety hazard and problems adhering to the published schedule.

“You really can’t be doing that,” Holden said. “You pick a stop and service that stop.”

In some residential neighborhoods, buses wound through the parking lots and stopped every time a person walked out of his front door and hailed the bus. HRT executives also discovered that buses sometimes went to the fuel depot to fill up with passengers in tow, Holden said.

“We wanted to create a more systematic and organized system,” Holden said. “We wanted it to be reliable, and we wanted it to be safe.”

Some HRT customers already aren’t happy with the proposed changes. Hearing that the buses no longer would pick riders up at the door of Walmart, Christopher Twine was upset.

“That’s just the stupidest idea I’ve ever seen,” he said while waiting for a bus Tuesday. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to the old folks with bad knees.”

His wife agreed.

“Half of the senior citizens can’t get around,” Tinisha Twine said.

If the changes to the routes affect your ability to access a bus stop, you may be eligible for the Handi-Ride. Handi-Ride is curb-to-curb transportation service within ¾ of a mile of regular bus routes. For more information about Handi-Ride certification, call 222-6087.

An HRT representative will be available to answer questions about the changes Thursday and Friday from 7 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 6 p.m. at the Suffolk bus plaza, located in the Cherry Street city parking lot off Saratoga Street. For more information, call 222-6100.

Changes to the routes are detailed below:

4Route 71 — Obici Hospital

Route 71 inbound will service the Farm Fresh shopping center by traveling the access road between Taco Bell and the Goodwill drop off point. The bus stop is located next to the Goodwill building. This is the only pickup and drop off location for this shopping center.

Route 71 outbound no longer will access the Big Lots shopping center. The bus stop is located near Chick-fil-A on Main Street.

Route 71 will no longer service the city municipal center and stops along Market, Wellons, Washington and Main streets. Route 72 outbound now will service this area.

4Route 72 — Holland Road/Paul D. Camp Community College

Route 72 outbound now will service the city municipal center and stops along Market Street and Wellons Street between Washington Street and Main Street.

Route 72 inbound now will service Farmer Joes’s grocery story on Carolina Road.

Route 72 will no longer access the Suffolk West Plaza Center. Passengers needing access to the shopping center may use the stop located on West Washington Street between Hardee’s and Lipton.

Route 72 Holland Plaza shopping center bus stop will be located on the outer road in the parking lot near George’s Steakhouse.

Route 72 no longer will service the Riverview and Lakeside Park residential areas.

R4oute 73 — Kingsboro/Wilroy Road

Route 73 outbound no longer will travel through the Fresh Pride Grocery Store parking lot. The bus will access the shopping center on the outer rim of the parking lot just before exiting onto Constance Road.

Route 73 no longer will enter the Food Lion shopping center on Portsmouth Boulevard. The stop will be located on Portsmouth Boulevard in front of the shopping center.

Route 73 inbound no longer will service Wilson Pines Apartments. The stop will be located on East Washington Street in front of Nub-Jones Assisted Living.

4Route 74 — Lake Kennedy/South Suffolk

Route 74 outbound no longer will enter the Nansemond Square Apartments. The stop will be located on Dill Road just past the entrance to the apartments at 110 Dill Road.

Route 74 no longer will enter the Bettie Davis Village Apartment complex. The stop will be located at the intersection of Dover Court and Carolina Road.

Route 74 inbound no longer will service Georgia Avenue as a turn around location. Route 74 will turn left from Hollywood Avenue onto Arizona Avenue, travel through Cypress Park onto Oregon Avenue and exit back onto Hollywood Avenue.