Published in Chesapeake, VA Clipper on 02/10/06.
HRT (Hampton Roads Transit), the organization Hampton Roads residents love to hate. Well, at least those who don’t depend on the buses to run to get to work, to earn money to buy a car. But HRT and a sound public transportation system they could be managing are beyond a luxury for Hampton Roads, they are a necessity.
HRT serves the 33rd largest metropolitan area in the U. S., yet we rank 61st in the country when it comes to funding our public transportation. With over 19 million rides per year, we can do better. We can do better. We must do better.
Workers are the lifeblood of any region. The more people that are able to get to work, the more retail outlets sell, the more industry is attracted to the region, and the better off we are, riders of buses or not. Yes, even those who don’t ride buses benefit from a first class system, a system we deserve, a system that should be built. Taking more people off the roads makes it roomier, and faster, for those who choose to or must drive.
Workers who cannot reach the ever increasing jobs, many in areas not now served by HRT, cost us money in unemployment benefits, in social services benefits and in added time we spend on the over-crowded roads. Such things cost us all, and a viable public transportation system, funded well and managed well, could be the catalyst Hampton Roads needs to become a truly national gem.
As a member of the Public Transportation Alliance of Hampton Roads, I urge all to get involved. Write your legislators to demand sound management of public transportation resources, and demand that your respective cities within Hampton Roads increase their funding and oversight of HRT within their boundaries. Demand the best of public transportation resources and we are bound to move over the roads of Hampton Roads more easily in the coming years.
Archie R. Whitehill