Orange and Blue, more direct bus routes offered for you – The Suffolk News-Herald
Suffolk Transit could have more new routes in just over a year, its transit manager told the council in a recent briefing.
Maria Ptakowski, who has worked with Suffolk Transit since its inception around 10-and-a-half years ago, said she wanted to modify her orange route, one of her busiest residential routes and the one that currently crosses nine railway tracks times per trip during the 12 hours a day it is operational.
The new orange route would continue to serve the downtown transfer station, the West Jericho area, the Portsmouth Boulevard Food Lion and Magnolia Gardens, and on the western part of the route it would serve Factory Street and Carolina Road. Ptakowski said the new route would run up and down East Washington Street four times a day.
However, it splits some of the more residential parts of the current route to create a new blue road that would serve neighborhoods south of East Washington Street, also serving Carolina Road and Culloden Street near the Department of Social Services building of the city. She said both routes will be more direct.
“We cover the same area, but now we’re making it easier to get on the bus going in both directions and we’re going to help solve some of the overcrowding that’s happening on this orange route,” Ptakowski told the council. members, “and make it more reliable over time because we’re going to cut all the train tracks that happen on a particular route and it will break by always having to meet the other buses at the transfer station.”
The Saturday service would also be extended to the red route, which begins at the downtown transfer station and travels downtown to Finney Avenue and Pinner Street, on Portsmouth Boulevard to Magnolia Park and Ride, and on North Main Street and Pruden Boulevard to Career College and Academy in Pruden. Currently, other routes serve Red Route areas on weekends.
Last month, Suffolk Transit moved Obici Place and Main Street and Holly Lawn Parkway bus stops from the green route to the red route, allowing the green route to stay on schedule. It indicates that the Red Route stops will be safer.
By July 2025, a new commuter bus line will provide service between the Suffolk Industrial Park area and Portsmouth’s Victory Crossing, a hub for Hampton Roads Transit, which serves the wider Hampton Roads area. SmartScale funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation was approved for the new bus line in fiscal year 2026. Two new buses will be used to provide this service and will be wheelchair accessible.
“I think it’s a good thing to be able to do this,” said Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett, who also suggested putting a crosswalk at the Suburban Drive stop.
A proposed bus route from Suffolk to Windsor would provide service from the town center transfer station to the Windsor Public Library, with stops at Sentara Obici Hospital and Shirley T. Holland Industrial Park in County L Isle of Wight. The county and the city would jointly request SmartScale money for this.
“It will allow us to create… more connection between some of these outlying areas that Suffolk town is very close to and that a lot of people are trying to come and go,” Ptakowski said.
Suffolk Transit is in the early stages of reviewing transport needs in villages such as Chuckatuck and Holland.
“We’re going to make sure that when we create an on-demand zone, which will be a scheduled ride that takes you from point A to point B,” Ptakowski said, “that we’re going to create it in the right zones and make sure that we get them to the right destinations. We don’t want to create a system that doesn’t help anyone.
A public hearing would be required before any changes could be made.
Ptakowski said Suffolk Transit was also looking to make improvements to its bus stops to increase accessibility.
It plans to add a bench and bin to its Suburban Drive and Portsmouth Road stop, and it plans similar upgrades to its stops at Dill Road and Nancy Drive, Holland Road, Holly Lawn Parkway, Main Street Marketplace and Respass Beach and Circle of Burbage.
He also began looking to add a concrete slab and bench to his stop at Nansemond River High School.
“I want more shelter in these areas,” Councilman Donald Goldberg said, “not just blocks, but more shelter. People have to wait, and it’s raining and so on, they have to be covered.
Councilor LeOtis Williams asked how soon a Sunday route could be implemented following the current inquest, which ends May 28. He suggested that if the survey indicated a demand for Sunday service, the city could find the money to make it happen.
Ptakowski, explaining the steps needed for a Sunday route, said it could take a year or more and would largely depend on funding and the design of a route, but Suffolk Transit will consider the results of the survey.
“That would be what we would call a major service change,” Ptakowski said, “because it would be adding a whole new day, so we would have to hold a public hearing. That would take a bit of time. We’ll have to post this for at least 30 days If we were to do something like this I can’t promise it would happen as fast as I would like just for funding reasons but ideally we like to do a lot of our changes in same time, and so we could do it with this set of changes from Exercise 24.
“If the funding is available, there is always the possibility that we could do it before then, but it would take a bit (time) because we also had to figure out the best way to design the route to make sure we do it all the time. service due on a Sunday FY ’24 would be the last one I would try to try.