The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) guarantees citizens of Virginia and representatives of the media access to certain public records. A record is a writing or recording, regardless of format, that is prepared in the transaction of public business. The public record may be owned by or in the possession of the public body, its officers, employees or agents.
Citizens have the right to request, inspect and/or receive copies of HRT’s public records. HRT has the right to charge a reasonable fee to locate, copy and produce the records you request. Typically, HRT only imposes this fee when a substantial number of documents are requested, or when it will take a significant amount of time to locate and provide the records to you. HRT requires pre-payment for any record request it estimates will cost $200 or more to answer. Most requests are answered free of charge.
HRT must respond to your request within five working days of receiving it. “Day One” is considered the day after your request is received. The five-day period does not include weekends or holidays.
At the conclusion of the five day period, HRT will: Provide you with the requested records; Provide you with an estimate of the cost to comply with your record request and ask for prepayment; Provide you with a written response declaring the requested records are exempt from disclosure; Provide you with a written response declaring that the requested records cannot be located or do not exist; Request more time to comply with the record request.
Some requests will include both exempt and non-exempt records. In those circumstances, the non-exempt records (or portions thereof) will be produced. A listing of the most common FOIA exemptions can be found in HRT’s FOIA policy.
There is no specific way that a FOIA request must be made. Requests can be made orally or in writing. HRT prefers that FOIA requests be made in writing. A written FOIA request allows HRT to refer back to the specific inquiry, ask questions to clarify the scope of your request, and to make sure it is providing you with the documents you want.
Citizens must identify the records being sought with reasonable specificity. This is a common sense standard. It does not limit the volume or number of records being sought. Instead, it requires that the public be specific enough so that HRT can identify and locate the records. All request must concern existing records or documents. HRT is not required to create a record that does not exist. HRT may abstract or summarize information under some conditions as agreed to between the requester and HRT.
Hampton Roads Transit is a public agency that strives to keep the public informed about its work. HRT’s FOIA policy spells out in clear language how the law works and your rights and responsibilities.
Hampton Roads Transit FOIA Policy
The FOIA Officer for HRT is Tom Holden. Mr. Holden may be reached at:
Hampton Roads Transit
ATTN: FOIA Officer
509 East 18th Street
Norfolk, Virginia 23504
Mr. Holden serves as a point of contact for members of the public requesting HRT’s public records and coordinates HRT’s response to all FOIA requests. Any questions regarding FOIA or public record requests from HRT should be directed to Mr. Holden.