Bus service to continue through New Year’s

Published 10:02 pm Friday, July 1, 2011

The buses will continue running through Dec. 31, city officials announced this week.

The city eliminated Hampton Roads Transit service as part of austerity measures in its 2011-2012 budget. The plan called for the routes to be phased out, beginning with Routes 72 and 73 this week. Routes 71 and 74 would continue until Dec. 31.

However, the city was able to negotiate with HRT to continue all four routes until the end of the year. The cost is being covered by the savings on the city’s pro-rated administrative fee paid to HRT.

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“This gives us a little more time to finalize a plan for alternative services, whatever that may be,” Public Works director Eric Nielsen said Friday.

The city approved the elimination of the service to save money, but HRT already had been considering doing away with routes 73 and 74 because they have low ridership. Both are consistently in the bottom five in ridership numbers, HRT officials said at meetings this spring.

Because HRT receives federal funding, it must hold public hearings on the eliminated routes, Nielsen said. Those will be announced when they are scheduled.

The city still is examining options for a public transit system to begin on Jan. 1, a city press release said.