NORFOLK – Beginning Sunday, May 9, Hampton Roads Transit will start operating a scaled-down version of its normal bus service to enhance overall transit reliability as the impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency are still being felt.
The Service Reliability Plan will be in place until at least July 1, with bus frequencies ranging from 30 to 60 minutes on most routes. Major employment centers throughout the region will continue to be served.
The Tide light rail will run on a 15-minute service frequency, Monday through Saturday, until 9:30 p.m. Afterward, the trains will run on 30-minute frequency. There is no change to the Sunday schedule for buses or light rail, and there is no change to any schedules on HRT’s Elizabeth River Ferry that connects commuters to destinations between the downtown areas of Norfolk and Portsmouth.
“Providing reliable service to our customers is our objective," said William E. Harrell, President and CEO of HRT. “The impacts of the pandemic have resulted in a shortage of personnel. This service adjustment will provide more reliable service that our riders can count on.”
The region’s transit agency has a current shortage of 59 bus drivers and is averaging about 100 absences per day related to the pandemic.
Normal bus operations require about 479 operators. The revised version, will require approximately 327 bus operators, which better matches staffing levels to the agency's posted schedules.
Since the start of the pandemic, 102 HRT employees have tested positive for COVID. HRT has conducted weekly, free COVID testing for employees with over 1,600 tests completed. About 33 percent of HRT employees have been vaccinated so far.
Although vaccines are becoming more readily available in Hampton Roads, the agency continues to enforce strict COVID protocols requiring face masks while in HRT buildings, vehicles and transit facilities while also using enhanced cleaning to keep surfaces clean. HRT has hosted vaccination events for employees.
HRT also is actively recruiting new bus operators and mechanics, with hiring incentives that include signing bonuses of up to $4,000, paid training, and a full range of health benefits plus eligibility to join a pension plan.
For more information on HRT job opportunities, visit https://hamptonroadstransit.ourcareerpages.com/
For more information about transit services, visit gohrt.com
Tom Holden, (757) 222-6183, (757) 676-2616