Virginia’s First Light Rail, “The Tide,” Opens in Norfolk | 2nd Green Revolution

Virginia’s First Light Rail, “The Tide,” Opens in Norfolk

Build it and they will come, especially if it is free.
With the opening of a 7.4 mile light rail system, the crowds were out early Friday in Norfolk, Virginia to test out the new transportation option, The Tide:

The Tide is the first light rail system in Virginia and marks the beginning of a new era for public transportation in Hampton Roads. The rail line extends 7.4 miles from the Eastern Virginia Medical Center complex east through downtown Norfolk, adjacent to I-264 to Newtown Road. Eleven stations provide access to destinations to cultural, financial and entertainment centers.

One key feature of the new system: it’s free, at least for now. In order to generate interest and get people to try out the light rail option, it didn’t cost a penny to ride The Tide on Friday. In fact, the interest was so big that the decision was made to keep rides free for another week. With a daily ridership projected at 2,900, the opening day’s 27,000 trips caused long waits and spurred the addition of one more car to the train, then two by evening. The normal $1.50 fares will start Monday, Aug. 29. According to this article, the line cost $100 million more than expected at $338.3 million. The Federal Transit Administration put up $201 million while the state contributed $71 million and Norfolk $66 million.

The Tide is off to a great start. Success, however, will be measured by ridership in the months and years to come.

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