HRT wants to increase cost of program that gives students a free ride

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by Lucy Bustamante, 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on April 29, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 29 at 6:02 PM

NORFOLK -- A good deal for riding HRT buses, The Tide light rail and the Elizabeth River ferries may not be as good in the future.

Hampton Roads Transit says it needs to increase the cost to businesses and colleges of the GoPass365  because it's losing too much money at the program's current cost, but some of those businesses are pushing back. 

Right now, GoPass holders ride for free and the university or business picks up the cost, which is bought at a reduced rate.

Among those signed up are Norfolk State Univ., Old Dominion Univ., EVMS, the City of Norfolk, and Tidewater Community College.

The original pricing contracts for those organizations will expire on June 30, 2013.

NSU senior Meredith Johnson says she can see why the HRT is losing money. She says riding is on the honor system - there is no machine to swipe to get on the tide like on her hometown of Baltimore, MD

"Sometimes there's an officer and sometimes not. And when you're in a rush, you just jump on without a ticket," she said.

According to Masstransitmag.com, HRT says Norfolk State has agreed to buy 600 passes at $250 each for the fiscal year beginning July 1. It will give them to students on a first-come, first-served basis and monitor the demand before buying more.

Doug Gardner tells 13News EVMS is still working with HRT.  EVMS does not want the situation to come down to having students make up the difference. Gardner says part of the hold up is they are in the middle of budget season.

 

Ron Hodges, Director of Business Development for HRT said that The US Coast Guard, Portfolio Recovery Associates, and Bryant and Stratton College are all new GoPass365 members for 2013.

Hodges further reports that HRT is in the process of establishing a contract with NSU, and they have no reason to believe it won't be signed.

 

Hodges also said that there are no plans so far to install boxes on The Tide to monitor who is paying, but he emphasized that he does not believe that is a contributing factor as to why HRT is losing money with the GoPass365.

13News is checking into how much of the cost increase could get passed on in higher prices for services or tuition and when a decision is expected.

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