Public transit changes coming
Published 9:19 pm Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Public transit users will begin seeing changes in the city’s bus service next month.
The city is unveiling a new fleet of buses with a new logo, a new route that includes the Holland Road corridor and Paul D. Camp Community College and a new transfer station on North Main Street.
The city paid about $131,000 for the four new buses, which hold 19 passengers each, city spokeswoman Debbie George said. A grant from the Department of Rail and Public Transportation paid the remainder of the cost — $159,000.
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George said the purchase will save the city about $64,000 annually in equipment costs from the service provider, Virginia Regional Transit. The city’s cost for the buses would pay for itself in a little more than two years.
The new buses will hit the road in July.
Later in the year, the transfer station will relocate from the Cherry Street parking lot to the parking area behind Market Park at the intersection of Main and Prentis streets. A restroom facility and shelter will be constructed at that location.
L.J. Hansen of Suffolk Public Works said he hopes the small building will be completed in time for the Grand Illumination event held at the park, usually in late November.
“That’s a longstanding issue,” he said of the need to move the transfer station, noting even Hampton Roads Transit had asked for it to be moved when HRT operated the city’s bus service. When VRT took over the service, they agreed, Hansen added.
City leaders said at an April Historic Landmarks Commission meeting that the look of the restroom facility would coordinate with the Suffolk Seaboard Station Railroad Museum across the street.
Public Works Director Eric Nielsen said Tuesday the buses and restroom facility were not included in the capital improvements plan, because the budget office asked him to put it in the operating budget.
In addition, a new route known as the Yellow Route will enable riders to reach the Holland Road corridor, including the community college and the CenterPoint Industrial Park. The route also will serve the Saratoga neighborhood, Suffolk Industrial Park and Suffolk Station Apartments. It will begin running Aug. 1.
The city also is working to place bus stop signs and shelters at the busiest stop locations, according to a press release.
The city currently is conducting a public opinion survey to gather input about public transportation needs and services.
The survey is being conducted as a way to gather input, particularly from non-riders of the city’s public transit system. A rider survey is also being conducted aboard buses.
Paper copies of the survey are available at the three public libraries and in city hall. To fill out the survey electronically, visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/suffolktransit.
For more information on the city’s public transit system, visit www.suffolktransit.org.