The construction of the Hampton Roads Tide has been a textbook case of mismanagement and poor leadership. Consider these facts:
- Former HRT Director Michael Townes came under fire over the delays and cost overruns in the construction of the Hampton Roads Tide. It was so bad that he was told by the Board of Hampton Roads Transit that he needed to resign or be fired. Source
- Unable to leave quietly, after being pushed out of his position at Hampton Roads Transit, now-former Director Michael Townes claimed that he was forced to resign because of racism. Source
- Despite being asked to leave his job at Hampton Roads Transit and later leveling accusations of “scapegoating and racism,” Michael Townes was given a severance package values at over $300 thousand dollars. Source
- In the face of increasing cost overruns, city officials conducting an internal audit discovered that two sets of books were being used in order to conceal this information from the public as well as other government agencies and officials. Source
- Due to improper planning, Hampton Roads Transit placed the entrance of the Norfolk State University platform on the west die of Brambelton Avenue, forcing students to risk crossing this busy road in order to use the Light Rail. Source
- Norfolk State was still concerned about student safety, so a $30,000.o00 fence was installed along Brambelton Avenue to deter students from crossing. It didn’t work. Source
- Another $10 million dollars was required to install a second access to the Norfolk State University platform, adding to the burden of an already long-suffering Virginia taxpayer. Source
- In 2015, the Virginian Pilot reported that the Hampton Roads Tide lost more money per-passenger than every other Light Rail line in the United States. Each and every passenger required a taxpayer subsidy of $6.63 in addition to the fare they already pay. Source
- In 2016, the Virginian Pilot reported that the Tide was no longer the number one money loser in the country. The Tide had fallen to number 2 with passenger subsidies of $5.68 per passenger. While it is great that the Tide is no longer number one, being in second place means you are the first loser and the taxpayers are still picking up the tab. Source
- Despite the claims of our opposition about how the “millennial generation” is demanding Light Rail, a recent report in the Virginian Pilot shows that ridership among millennials is likely to decline. If you build it they will come, and maybe they won’t. Source
- The Tide had $1,499,060 in fare revenue in 2014, which made for a $9.5 million operating deficit. Source
- The Virginian Pilot reported that in May of 2015, Norfolk taxpayers were hit with a real estate tax increase of 4.4 cents. This increase might not have been necessary were it not for the $9.5 million in operating losses of the Tide. Source
- Embarrassing light-rail statistic shows we should be boosting buses – Roger Chesley, Virginian Pilot
- Now arriving at this conclusion: Light rail is all about development – Kerry Doughtery, Virginian Pilot
The Costs Kept Coming
Even as work on the original section of the Tide was nearing completion under new HRT management, Hampton Roads Transit was fixing mistakes that cost more money than originally thought. Several grade-crossings had to be entirely torn out and replaced at a cost of $80,000 to $100,000 each.
“How come they’re finding so many mistakes? We’re the newest light-rail system in the country. Shouldn’t we be ahead of everybody else’s system in terms of design? They should have learned from previous light rails.” Phillip Hawkins Jr., Ingleside Civic League president.
Source: Virginian Pilot
And it Didn’t Stop There!
A news story from WAVY-10 news uploaded to YouTube on September 13, 2011 reported that even after the Tide had been completed and was operational, taxpayers were asked to contribute another $8 million dollars for Light Rail Construction.