Summer is definitely in full swing, and that means that HART is ready to roll out its list of service/timepoint adjustments for its summer service re-evaluation.
HART re-evaluates its services three times per year to make sure everything is running smoothly. The most sweeping changes are generally made during the fall cycle in November, with moderate changes made in the spring cycle in March, and minor adjustments made during the summer cycle in July. Now this is not always the case, but this is the general trend that I’ve seen since 2007.
Most of the changes being made for the Summer, 2012 cycle, which takes effect Sunday, July 8, 2012, are relatively minor timepoint changes in order to improve running times on routes that tend to lag behind (like Route 30 for instance), as well as improve one route’s connections with other routes.
Probably the most significant change will be to the routing of Route 14, which travels along Armenia Ave and the southern portion of North Boulevard. In order to improve efficiency of the route, and allow better connections at the Marion Transit Center in downtown Tampa, HART is eliminating the southern-most segment of Route 14, where it currently runs along Kennedy Blvd and meanders through Jackson St and Ashley Dr going into downtown. The route will instead use Cass St and take the same approach as Route 7 into downtown.
Why is this change being made? Mainly because the intersection of Kennedy Blvd and Ashley Dr has become heavily congested in recent years. In fact, the intersection is now so congested during the afternoon rush hour, that it can take up to 15 minutes just to travel eastbound on Kennedy Blvd between North/South Boulevard to Ashley Dr. 15 minutes is a long time to travel a distance of just under a mile…in a car.
Now imagine that you’re the driver of a Route 14 bus heading into downtown during the 5:00pm rush hour. You have to pick up and drop off numerous passengers along the way. Because of the heavy congestion along Kennedy Blvd, your trip begins to lag behind. You are to arrive at the Marion Transit Center by 5:55pm, but your watch now reads 5:45pm and you just turned onto Kennedy Blvd east from North Boulevard. The current timepoint to arrive at Washington St & Marion St is 5:48pm, yet you know with this traffic, that you will not make the Marion/Washington timepoint for possibly another 10 minutes, putting passengers at risk of missing their 6:00pm connections at the Marion Transit Center.
Putting the “driver’s view” into perspective, you can see how the afternoon congestion can push back the arrival of the Route 14 into downtown. The same congestion also heavily affects Route 30, which connects downtown to Town-N-Country and has been lagging behind as a whole, and Route 46, which connects Davis Island to Brandon. By rerouting Route 14 to Cass St, bus drivers will no longer have to worry about getting stuck in the heavy rush hour traffic along Kennedy. In fact, the Cass St bridge is nowhere near as congested as some of the other downtown entry points during rush hour, whereas the Kennedy Blvd bridge is among the most congested during rush hour. In-turn, the arrival times to the Marion Transit Center will be greatly improved and the entire travel time of Route 14 will be cut by 5 to 8 minutes.
Speaking of Route 30, which again, has been lagging behind in terms of travel times, will see adjustments to its schedule. Temporarily, headways will expand during the day from 30 minutes to 35 minutes. The same will be done to Routes 34 and 39 during weekdays (weekend service for all three routes will not change). However, HART is trying to devise a plan for November to return these routes back to 30 minute headways.
Another change that is to affect multiple bus routes is that of nighttime (OWL) services for Routes 1, 2, 6, 12, and 19. Currently, each of these routes arrive at the Marion Transit Center at different times around 12 midnight, making it real difficult for passengers wanting to make that last transfer of the night. HART will revise the 11:00pm and 12:00am running/departure times for all five of these routes so that passengers can make a better, seamless connection between routes during the midnight hour.
There will also be minor timepoint/routing changes to Routes 24X, 25LX, 33, and 36.
View this link for a PDF summary of the upcoming changes.
View this link for the new schedules.
View this link to read a post of HART’s Blogger Blog to learn more about how HART determines its service changes.