Proposed changes for Suffolk Transit

Published 8:04 pm Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Suffolk Transit has proposed that one bus route be replaced and four others altered in proposed changes that would take effect in September.

A public hearing on the proposed changes will be held during City Council’s July 21 regular meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

The Saturday-only Blue Route, a roughly 45-minute loop route that begins and ends at the Downtown Transfer Station, would be eliminated, with elements of its route absorbed into other routes. The current Blue Route has stops at residential and commercial areas off of North Main Street, stretching from the Food Lion area on Portsmouth Boulevard to another Food Lion on Holland Road — with stops in between — and moving through the Saratoga neighborhood before finishing its loop at the transfer station.

In its place would be a revised Yellow Route designed to be more direct and provide faster connections between the CenterPoint Industrial Park, the Food Lion on Holland Road and the transfer station. Riders who connect to the Holland Road area distribution centers would have a more direct route to the transfer station.

The new Yellow Route would serve a short segment on North Broad Street and West Constance Road currently served by the Red Route, while the Green Route would absorb part of the Yellow Route area south of West Washington Street.

Transit officials identified the Yellow Route as a candidate for blending multiple elements of its route with an altered Pink Route, which is being adjusted to add stops on Nansemond Parkway, Progress Road and Wilroy Road.

The adjusted Pink Route, which currently serves as the connector route to downtown, the Hampton Roads Transit transfer station at Chesapeake Square and North Suffolk, will now serve the HRT transfer station in Chesapeake in both directions. The Pink Route would have an extra hour of service, going from 6:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, eliminating the current break at 9:30 a.m.

The Red Route would offer two-way service through downtown by extending the route to the College and Career Academy at Pruden, which is currently a part of the Green Route, with the Yellow Route to serve segments of the current Red Route that operates along North Broad Street, and the Pink Route to serve segments on East Constance Road.

Suffolk Transit plans to change the Green Route by realigning it into a two-way service, preserving what it says are the most productive segments of the route and creating new and direct connections to popular destinations. It would operate between King’s Fork High School, the transfer station and the Saratoga neighborhood south of West Washington Street. A segment of this route from the high school to CCAP would be discontinued, and the route would no longer go to the Main Street Shoppes or the Western Tidewater Community Services Board.

The Saturday routes would be the realigned Green, Yellow and Pink routes, along with the existing Purple and Orange routes, which would still operate from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

The proposed changes, if there are no other alterations of routes, would take effect Sept. 7. More details, and maps of the proposed route changes, can be found at suffolktransit.org.

City Council, at its last meeting earlier this month, approved transferring $600,000 from the city’s transit fund to the capital projects fund to accelerate work on the transit operations facility, which would provide a location to house the city’s transit operations, staff and contractors, bus equipment and transit assets.

This comes after the city received $2.6 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act and Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriation Act money. The project is in the city’s fiscal 2022-2031 capital improvements project and plan.

The city also received nearly $872,000 in federal money for its public transit service for the current fiscal year, $44,809 more than what was included in the adopted fiscal 2022 transit system fund budget estimated at $827,117. The extra money will be used for operational expenses.