By: Dave Forster; PilotOnline.com
D’era Sharpe takes the bus five days a week from Newport News to the Southside for college, and she does it all without ever paying a fare.
The culinary arts student is one of some 74,000 people covered in a program in which schools and businesses pay a lump sum so their students and workers can ride public transit at no extra cost.
“It does help me save a lot of money,” Sharpe, 18, said this week as she waited for her next bus in downtown Norfolk, near the Tidewater Community College campus.
The program, called GoPass365, has cost Hampton Roads Transit, enough that the agency is reworking the perk. Discussions are preliminary, but one idea is to charge the participating institution 94 cents every time a pass is swiped, said Ray Amoruso, HRT’s chief planning and development officer.
HRT has just begun talking to university officials about possible changes, which would not take effect until sometime next year, Amoruso said.
“The program can’t continue in the present structure that we started with because HRT is losing money (on it),” he said.