Va.-based Hampton Roads Transit’s (HRT) The Tide light rail system hit more than 30,000 customers on its first full day of service, shattering expectations for the new light rail system, according to the agency.
The Tide opened to the public on Friday to long lines of excited patrons who arrived at stations one-half hour before the 6 a.m. start of service. Long lines at many stations persisted throughout the day as customers waited for a chance to ride Virginia’s first light rail line.
HRT estimated The Tide will have about 2,900 boardings on an average weekday. While opening days typically generate strong demand among the curious, the number of people who rode the Tide surprised even officials at HRT.
“What a terrific start to light rail in Virginia,” said President/CEO Philip Shucet. “I could not be prouder of the men and women who worked so hard and for so long to bring this project to completion. I know the entire region appreciates the wonderful effort that brought light rail to Norfolk.”
No system troubles were reported while trains ran at capacity for much of the day and into the evening. HRT began the day with six trains in service. As demand intensified, two more trains were added to ease the load. Buses were also pressed into service to provide special connections for those who could not wait long in line, or could not find a seat on the train.
The starter line extends from the Eastern Virginia Medical Center complex, through downtown east to the Norfolk-Virginia Beach border at Newtown Road. Eighteen bus routes will provide service to six of the 11 Tide stations.
Following The Tide’s success over the weekend, HRT officials announced the service would remain free until August 29.