Light Rail Service to Begin August 19, 2011

Norfolk, Va. – Virginia’s first light rail system will open to the public on August 19, 2011 at 6 a.m. and begin carrying paying customers on Aug. 22, 2011.

Philip A. Shucet, president and CEO of Hampton Roads Transit, said Tuesday that all safety signal and communications systems are installed and tested. Remaining system tests and adjustments and the completion of park and ride lots will be completed this summer.

The start of The Tide light rail service in Norfolk marks a regional milestone that will be celebrated with a series of public events along the 7.4-mile route.

To help kick off opening events, HRT will offer three days of free introductory service starting Friday, Aug. 19 through the 20th and 21st. Fare collection then begins on Monday, Aug. 22. Information on opening ceremonies will be announced later.

“I’m proud of the hard working women and men at HRT and our contractors for their dedication,” said Shucet. “The start of light rail service in Norfolk is a game changer. It marks the return of regular train service to downtown Norfolk and offers commuters the first new transportation choice in a generation. Now, it’s on to August 19.”

As part of The Tide’s pre revenue operations, light rail vehicles will operate on a regular schedule along the route but not carry customers. Residents can expect to see trains operating at any time between the Eastern Virginia Medical Center/Ft. Norfolk and Newtown Road stations.

With the start of train service downtown, HRT again reminds the public that safety is a shared responsibility between HRT and the public. HRT encourages people to pay attention and obey signs and signals. “We are taking every step to make sure that the system we open is as safe as it possibly can be within the context of the design that was handed to us,” Shucet added.

The Tide rail system connects major employment, educational, entertainment and shopping centers along Interstate 264 in Norfolk – one of the region’s most congested traffic corridors.