One of the added bonuses of moving to downtown Norfolk is being reunited with useful public transportation. I’ve lived in half a dozen fairly large metropolitan areas. Besides NYC, only Norfolk has made an honest attempt at providing reliable, cost-effective options for people to get around.
The reasons are obvious; there is a stigma attached to public transportation. It is for the poor and lower class, who can’t afford a car, and need a way to get from their homes to work, school, and other services. But due to the nature of Hampton Road’s growing transportation dilemma, localities have been forced to take a different stance on the efficient movement of people, goods, and services.
The Tide is Norfolk’s light rail system that begins downtown at the Eastern Virginia Medical Center and ends at the Newtown Road, the city line between Norfolk and Virginia Beach. There is a Tide stop steps from my front door, so I see and hear it every day.
I like the Tide one because it’s a great idea (there’s only so much space for new or widened roads) and the fact that it represents a shift in conventional thinking. Twenty Years ago, it may have been inconceivable to consider spending public funds on a commuter rail system. Relatively inexpensive fuel coupled with the mass exodus from cities to the suburbs made the concept laughable. But today, more people are reconsidering the idea of a long car ride into work, or a car ride at all for that matter. It makes me smile seeing people alight at the station each morning. With the news that Virginia Beach is willing to consider extending the Tide into it’s borders only makes it more of a boon to the re-urbanization of the area.
It also makes catching a Tides game more fun.