HAMPTON,Va, (WAVY) - Local college students may soon pay the price for Hampton Roads Transit's financial woes.
An industry review by the American Public Transportation Association showed Wednesday HRT could be broke in two years if they don't make any changes to the system. APTA recommended raising rates or cutting the 'Go Pass 365' program, which provides free transportation for college students, whose colleges pay an annual fee to HRT to participate.
Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads' Board of Commissioners are taking a hard look at HRT's finances after the review. HRT officials said the numbers are not in their favor when it comes to the 'Go Pass 365' program.
"As you know, while there has been an increase in continued increase in the utilization of this program, we've seen revenues trail significantly," HRT CEO and President William Harrell said.
Harrell said HRT is losing money from black-marketed Go Pass 365 passes, draining the agency of an estimated $2 million annually.
Harrell is recommending that participating colleges (Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University, Eastern Virginia Medical College, Tidewater Community College) pay up to stay in the program.
"We feel like it's been a tremendous benefit for our students and employees," Vice President of Administration and Finances for Eastern Virginia Medical School Mark Babashanian said. "[Students] have taken large advantage of it and our numbers have increased a lot. We understand their challenges financially, but unfortunately, we have the same challenges. Unfortunately a five-fold increase in one year... we just can not afford that."
The colleges came together and agreed on a counter offer, intent on saving the program for students.
"We've got to see now if this price increase which is a 50 percent plus increase next year that we've proposed is going to meet the needs of HRT we need to find out what will be," Vice President for Administration and Finances at ODU Robert Fenning said.
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