A Better Way to Make Our Badges

HRT’s badge making processes have undergone a quiet revolution for the better in recent weeks, and the Community Outreach team has wasted no time in putting the system to work on the popular Student Freedom Pass initiative.

Just this past month, Tiffany McClain and Marie Arnt, public outreach coordinators, issued over 500 new student passes using HRT’s new portable badge-making equipment which speeds the process and produces more readable badges for operators.

Unless you are familiar with how HRT issues these essential passports to our system, you may not appreciate how the changes are an improvement for the agency and its customers.

“The Student Freedom Passes, for example, were once only available on weekdays, at only two transit centers, either Hampton or Norfolk,” McClain said. “If you lived outside those cities, it was much more inconvenient to get them.”

Same story for paratransit and senior discount passes.

The new equipment produces badges much faster than the old one and is deployed at 18th Street, Downtown Norfolk Transit Center, Hampton Transit Center, plus there is a mobile machine which extends the agency’s reach to just about anywhere.

Perhaps best of all, the new machine produced badges using a thermal plastic mechanism, as opposed to the old-fashioned laminating process.

“Those cards weren’t as durable,’ McClain said. “They took a long time to make and customers had to bring in their own photos. If it was a passport, the photo was actually cut out of the passport and placed in laminating stock and made that way. It was an archaic system.”

These badges were recently redesigned to make them easier to read for operators by allowing operators to more clearly see the type of badge customers present.

The timing of the new equipment is especially helpful to Hampton City Schools which are starting Hampton Academies next year. The program will have children in it who may have a need to travel outside of their normal school zone, so the SFP passes will give them an option.

Before the new equipment was put into place, the district was contemplating bringing 1,000 eligible students into the Hampton Transfer Center to have badges made.

“I can’t imagine doing that,” said Marie Arnt.

Now, Community Outreach can go to the schools instead, issuing badges to small groups in individual schools.