Virginia Beach light rail car purchase delayed

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A plan to purchase light rail cars for Virginia Beach has been delayed.

The City Council was tentatively scheduled to hear about a purchase proposal between Hampton Roads Transit and a manufacturer in March. The hearing is no longer listed on the council’s tentative three-month schedule.

City Manager Dave Hansen said by email Monday that HRT’s negotiations to buy the cars are taking longer than expected and he is uncertain when he’ll be able to bring any discussion on the matter to the City Council. He said by phone Tuesday he is not privy to details of those negotiations.

Additionally, the city has asked if it could save money by giving the manufacturer more time to deliver the cars, “meaning that we could still operate for a while with a few of the vehicles rather than all of them,” Hansen said in his email.

An HRT spokesman has said the agency cannot discuss the negotiations.

Manufacturers need at least 30 months to deliver the cars after an order, officials have said. The current delay on the purchase negotiations has so far not affected the timeline of the project, Hansen said.

The city’s tentative schedule for the project, which would build a 3-mile line from Norfolk to Town Center, anticipates a City Council vote in spring 2017, two years of construction and the start of service in winter 2019-2020.

Have a story idea or news tip? Contact City Hall reporter Judah Taylor at Judah@SouthsideDaily.com or 757-490-2750.

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