On Sept. 17, 2013, Hampton Roads Transit presented to the City Council cost and ridership estimates for extending The Ride light rail into Virginia Beach.
How much would it cost to extend light rail into Virginia Beach?
It depends on the route. The study includes two cost estimates – one for each option. Costs are in 2018 dollars:
• Newtown Road to Rosemont Road -- $440 million
• Newtown Road to the Oceanfront via the Norfolk Southern right of way -- $1.0 billion
There is a third alternative – Newtown Road to the Oceanfront via Hilltop/Laskin Road. The estimated cost of this option will be available in November 2013.
One word of caution: The cost estimates WILL change, depending on many factors that have not yet been decided. As of September 2013, only 3% to 7% of the design is complete.
Who would pay for that?
Costs would be divided roughly in this proportion:
• Federal government – 50%
• State government – 25%
• City government – 25%
That could vary, depending on exactly how the line is designed and built.
How many people would ride The Tide in Virginia Beach?
Again, it depends on the route.
If the light rail line were built all the way to the Oceanfront via Hilltop/Laskin Road, total ridership would more than double –to about 16,665 per weekday.
The latest study includes ridership estimates for three options. All three estimates are for daily weekday riders during normal commuting hours – Monday to Friday 9-5.
The estimates do NOT cover nights or weekends, and therefore do NOT include tourists and day trippers going to the Oceanfront, or people going to restaurants and bars at Town Center or Hilltop, or to Norfolk destinations, like Harbor Park or MacArthur Center, from Virginia Beach. If these were included, the ridership estimates would be much higher.
Given that caveat, the daily weekday ridership estimates for the Virginia Beach portion alone are:
- Newtown Road to Rosemont Road – 3,370 per weekday (plus 7,180 riders in Norfolk)
- Newtown Road to the Oceanfront without the Hilltop option – 5,295 per weekday (plus 7,535 in Norfolk)
- Newtown Road to the Oceanfront via Hilltop – 8,845 per weekday (plus 7,820 in Norfolk)
The estimates also include a small addition for non-business trips during non-commuting hours that would raise the totals by roughly 3% to 9%.
Total ridership on the entire Tide light rail system is estimated to be 5.3 million riders a year if the Oceanfront route and Hilltop option are built.
How much would it cost to operate The Tide in Virginia Beach?
Again, it depends on the route. The HRT study includes estimates for annual operations and maintenance costs for three scenarios:
- Newtown Road to Oceanfront via Hilltop/Laskin Road: $43.6 million (city’s share: $18.1 million)
Who would pay for that?
In Norfolk, light rail operating and maintenance costs are split this way:
• City – 49%
• Passenger revenue – 11%
• Federal funding – 23%
• State – 17%
It’s too early to know for sure how costs would be split in Virginia Beach.
Watch the Sept. 17, 2013 presentation to City Council below: