The Tide uses an off-board fare collection system through ticket vending machines on the platform or through a new e-ticketing service.
“I think we’re among the very few transit agencies in the United States that has an online ticket purchase option,” Holden says.
Each platform has two ticket vending machines, however during major events the machines were overwhelmed and customers were unable to get their tickets quickly enough, explains Holden.
“It’s pretty unusual. You can get an email confirmation and a QR code sent to your smart phone and then you can ride the rail that way,” he says.
Online fares are good for one person to ride all day on The Tide light rail. However, they are not valid for HRT bus, ferry, paratransit or other HRT services.
HRT has been conducting the Virginia Beach Transit Extension study (VBTES) to examine the best transit options available for a former freight rail right of way that runs from Newtown Road to Birdneck Road in Virginia Beach. The study includes options for extending transit service east of Birdneck Road to the Oceanfront.
Four alternatives are being considered: extending The Tide light rail into Virginia Beach, building a bus rapid transit line, enhancing local bus service or doing nothing at all. However, the study is currently on hold until nine to 12 months of ridership data from the Norfolk line of The Tide can be gathered. After the data has been collected, HRT will restart the VBTES, currently anticipated in the third quarter of 2012. The study is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.
If things move forward, the Virginia Beach extension would cover 10.8 miles and include eight stations.
Calgary Transit CTrain
Calgary Transit’s light rail system, CTrain, is comprised of two lines — the Route 201 Crowfoot/Somerset-Bridlewood and the Route 202 McKnight — Westwinds/City Centre. The original legs of the system opened in 1981; today the system covers a total of 28.5 miles and includes 26 major stations. Eight percent of the system runs underground.
Ron Collins, Calgary Transit communications coordinator, says for 2010, the ridership was 94.4 million and in 2009 it was 94.2 million. The CTrain is operated by wind generated electricity, the only system in North America to do so.
“What it means really is the CTrain, our light rail transit system, is 100 percent emissions free. So it’s very good for the environment, a very green system,” Collins says.
Calgary is a growing community, and with that population growth comes a number of extensions to the CTrain.
“The city of Calgary is likely the fastest growing community in Canada. Our plan is to just try and keep up, keep base with the demand for service. That is our challenge right now,” Collins says. “Ridership has actually increased by about 25 percent since 2001. Since 2001 we’ve actually doubled our track system. By the time the West LRT opens, we’ll have a track of just over 50 km.”
The largest of the three extensions currently in process in Calgary is the West LRT extension. The West LRT is the first new line in 20 years, according to Christian Cormier, spokesperson for the West LRT, and will be 4.9 miles long and will have six new stations.
“There’s the first elevated station of the network that will be part of the new line and the first underground station in Calgary,” Cormier says. “It’s quite a complex line when you look at it because part is at-grade, part is elevated, and part is underground. The project also includes elements like an interchange, a lot ofelements that are above and beyond the actual LRT alignment.”
The project budget for the West LRT was approved in 2007 and after a year’s worth of community meetings, the project went to market in 2008. Cormier says the contract was awarded in 2009 and construction began in February of 2010. Calgary Transit anticipates the new line will open in spring 2013.