Hampton Roads Transit Legislative Agenda 2024: What to Expect
The Virginia General Assembly kicked off the 2024 legislative session on Wednesday, January 10. Hampton Roads Transit’s Organizational Advancement Officer, Noelle Pinkard, has a front row seat to all the action in Richmond.
While HRT doesn’t have any proposed legislation this year, Pinkard’s primary focus will be to advocate for the legislative and public policy priorities for 2024, set by the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads in October. Some of these priorities include opposing any effort to divert funds away from public transit, and to identify ways to fund additional innovative transportation options.
The General Assembly is scheduled to meet for 10 weeks this year. Pinkard plans to be there for all of it. While in Richmond, she’ll meet with legislators, attend committee meetings, and speak with members of relevant committees. She’ll also monitor legislation, keeping a close eye on policy changes and updates that might impact HRT.
“Things move so fast during the General Assembly that we must be boots on the ground,” said Pinkard.
On January 22, Pinkard will lead a delegation from HRT on what is known as Transit Advocacy Day. This annual event is hosted by the Virginia Transit Association at the Capitol in Richmond. Representatives from transit agencies across the state will spend the day meeting with legislators and talking about their priorities for the year.
In 2020 the General Assembly passed legislation establishing dedicated funding of at least $20 million annually to pay for the 757 Express. In December, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) unveiled his biennium budget proposal, which includes continued support of dedicated funding for public transit in Hampton Roads.
The 757 Express is envisioned as a regional transit system and includes many features public transit riders’ demand; a mix of high-frequency, express, and limited-stop routes connecting commuters to major employment destinations.
Since October 2022, HRT has rolled out three high-frequency routes. Routes 112 and 114 operate on the Peninsula. Both have experienced steady growth in ridership. High-frequency service returned to Route 20 in November. The route runs along Virginia Beach Boulevard and is one of the busiest in the Commonwealth. Although it is too soon to dig into the numbers, we anticipate positive ridership growth on this route. HRT also worked with Amazon to create Route 980, a limited-stop route to its new facilities in Chesapeake and Suffolk. That route has also seen significant growth.
“Maintaining dedicated funding is key to the continued success of the 757 Express,” said Pinkard. That will be her mission during this year’s General Assembly.