Uncertainty over MacDill AirFest 2013

Revised: March 1, 2013. I had an incorrect date for the event.

The weekend of April 6/7 is supposed to be the upcoming MacDill AirFest at MacDill Air Force Base in South Tampa. Usually, during the month of March, HART would unveil their plans for any route detours in the South Tampa area, and any shuttle services that would be provided. There is talk of a possible shuttle running from Brandon, which I think would be neat, but other than that, things have been rather quiet.

In years past, HART has been able to run a shuttle along Bayshore Blvd from downtown Tampa, a modified Local Route 4. However, funding issues and the Platt St Bridge construction/closure did not make the shuttle possible for the 2011 event. There was no AirFest in 2012 due to scheduling changes that, for the most part, now makes these air shows run every year and a half (until further notice).

Many of us have heard of the upcoming “Sequester” cuts and MacDill officials announced this past Monday that the 2013 AirFest could be cancelled if the cuts are allowed to take effect. This is mainly due to the impact that the cuts would have on the base, both with personnel and with financial planning. I also understand that the US Navy would pull back the Blue Angels, the headlining act at this year’s event, and would cancel their appearances at all air show events in the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2013 should the Sequester take effect. The cuts are slated to take effect March 1, although the brunt may not be felt for several weeks.

With Congress very unlikely to come to any consensus, it is very much possible that AirFest 2013 will be cancelled. As each day passes in March without Congressional action, the chances of cancellation will increase. In the meantime, I strongly advise everyone to please pay attention to local media outlets for the latest developments, as things may change.


Transit Staycations – Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

Greetings everyone!

I mentioned earlier on that I will begin a Focus Post series called Transit Staycations. This series will profile various tourist sites that you can easily get to by using public transit. For my inaugural post; I will talk briefly about Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo and how you can get there using the HART bus system.

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is a non profit zoo that has been around since 1957 and was recently rated #1 on the top 10 Best Zoos for Kids list by Parents Magazine. The zoo is located on the corner of Sligh Ave and North Boulevard in the Seminole Heights area of Tampa, and is open each day from 9:30am to 5:00pm (though the zoo is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day). Over the years, I’ve had a few opportunities to visit Lowry Park Zoo and witness all of its wonderful animals! From Elephants to Owls, Manatees to Koalas; Lowry Park Zoo has eight themed exhibits on 56 acres with over 1,500 animals! At first glance, you may think that the zoo is small, but on the inside, it’s actually a very good size facility.

One of my favorite exhibits is the Florida Manatee and Aquatic Center, where you can view manatees, as well as a wide variety of fish and other aquatic life. I’ve always had a love for manatees and am always saddened when I hear that a manatee has been injured. Lowry Park Zoo’s wonderful manatee hospital is the only non profit manatee hospital in the world and has cared for nearly 300 manatees, according to the zoo’s website. Other exhibits include Wallaroo Station, an interactive family-friendly, Australian-themed area where kids can play in a water/splash area, feed goats, watch koalas and wallabies, and much, much more!

Practical Information:

The Lowry Park Zoo website has all of the up-to-date information on exhibits, ticket prices, special events, and more. Single day admission tickets are very reasonably priced and annual passes are also available. All ticketing information can be accessed through the zoo’s website. Because Lowry Park Zoo is a non profit zoo, it relies heavily on donations. If you would like to make a donation to the zoo, click here for more information.

In addition to the zoo, Lowry Park also encompasses a city-operated park located across North Boulevard, by the Hillsborough River. The park is equipped with boat ramps, picnic tables, grills, and even a riverfront trail that is perfect for a morning jog.

Getting There:

Lowry Park Zoo is easily accessible from all points in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, and Manatee counties. If you use I-275, you will need to exit at Sligh Ave (Exit 48) and proceed approximately 3/4 of a mile until you reach the corner of North Boulevard and Sligh Ave. Signs will point you to the zoo entrance. Parking is free by the way!

If you’re using the HART bus system; Routes 41 (Sligh Ave) and 45 (Westshore/UATC via Rome Ave) pass by Lowry Park Zoo.

  • If you’re coming from South Tampa/MacDill, you can use Route 36 (Dale Mabry Hwy) and transfer to Route 41 at the West Tampa Transfer Center. Please note that during events at Raymond James Stadium, the West Tampa Transfer Center will be closed. During these times, buses will transfer from a temporary location at Gomez Ave & St. Isabel St, a few blocks away from the transfer center.
  • If you’re coming from the WestShore Business District, you can use Route 45 from WestShore Plaza. Since Route 45 stops at the West Tampa Transfer Center, please be aware of detours caused by stadium events (which I noted in the last bullet).
  • If you’re coming from the Town-N-Country area, you can use Route 16 (Waters Ave) and transfer to Route 45 at North Boulevard. However, Route 16 does not operate on Sundays. You can also use Route 39 (Busch Blvd) and transfer to Route 45 at North Boulevard.
  • If you’re coming from the USF/Temple Terrace area, you can use Route 45 from the University Area Transit Center (UATC).
  • If you’re coming from Carrollwood/Lutz, you can use Route 33 (Fletcher Ave) and transfer to Route 45 at the UATC.
  • If you’re coming from East Tampa, Brandon, and other points in eastern or southern Hillsborough County, please check with HART as to which routes you’ll need to use. For instance, if you reside in around the NetPark Transfer Center (formerly Eastlake Square Mall), you can use Route 41. Brandon commuters will need to use Route 37 (Brandon/NetPark) to transfer to Route 41 at NetPark.

For the latest transit information, please visit HART’s website or call 813-254-4278.

Warmest Regards,

HARTride 2012.

Mairie de Montrouge Virtual Tour


Greetings everyone,

I have a brief update on the Paris subway Line 4 extension towards station Mairie de Montrouge!

Towards the end of January, I discovered the le metro a rendez-vous avec Montrouge blog by Dominique Josse. In this blog, she features up-to-date news and happenings that revolve around the Line 4 extension projects towards Montrouge, and later towards Bagneux. Most recently, she posted a link to a virtual tour interface that showcases the new station Mairie de Montrouge. I must say that I’m really impressed with the way the station is rendered in the virtual tour because everything looks so realistic! In fact, when I “walk” onto the northbound platform, I can visualize the MP 89 stock train arriving at the station to “whisk” me north towards station Gare du Nord. I invite you to check out the virtual tour yourself by clicking the “VISITE VIRTUELLE” icon on the left hand side of the blog’s homepage.

From what I’ve been hearing through this blog, as well as Symbioz; Saturday, March 23, 2013 is the tentative opening date for station Mairie de Montrouge. If there are no more major delays, then this should be the final date. On March 9, 10, and 11th, the segment of Line 4 between Gare Montparnasse and Porte d’Orleans will close for testing. During that particular weekend, bus services will be set up between Denfert-Rochereau and Porte d’Orleans. Passengers wishing to travel toward Porte d’Orleans will need transfer to Line 6 at Gare Montparnasse and travel to Denfert-Rocherau, where the buses will pick up passengers from there.

On March 12, the marche à blanc or walk to white phase begins. This is where trains will travel their normal route to Porte d’Orleans, drop off passengers per normal, but then continue their journey to Mairie de Montrouge. However, service at times will still be limited to Gare Montparnasse and northward, so bus services will be in operation between Denfert-Rocherau and Porte d’Orleans. This phase will test the new segment in a normal traffic environment and will allow the RATP to smooth out any remaining “bumps in the road” before the grand opening on March 23.

If everything goes well, I will be reporting back in March for my “grand opening” post. Until then, I invite you to visit Dominique Josse’s blog, where you can stay up-to-date on the latest regarding the Line 4 extension project. A HUGE ROUND OF APPLAUSE TO HER! 😀

Warmest Regards,

HARTride 2012

Re-focusing on European Transports site migration

Greetings everyone!

I just wanted to provide a quick update on my efforts to migrate content from my old sites to WordPress.


For personal reasons, my trip to Virginia may be postponed until later this year or sometime in 2014. So in the meantime, I have shifted my efforts here to migrating my Europe Transit as told by HARTride 2012 site content to WordPress. In the process, I will be adding in some photos of public transports in Belgium (from my 2009 trip). Once the migration is complete, the old site will be shut down permanently.

Please stay tuned for further updates.

HARTride 2012

Some MI 84 commuter rail stock trains to be re-assigned…

I heard from the Symbioz forums a few days ago that the STIF is proposing to re-deploy twenty trainsets of the MI 84, the commuter rail rolling stock that is gradually being phased out from the RER Line A. This latest development appeared in a media release from the STIF dated February 13, 2013. The release is in French, so you will need a translating service to translate the document into your native language.

Until new rolling stock is ordered to replenish the aging fleet of trains along the RER Line D and Suburban Rail Line R, the STIF is proposing the use of outgoing MI 81 rolling stock to reinforce a portion of both lines for the meantime. The sections that would utilize the MI 81 include the Melun/Juvisy segment of the RER Line D and the Melun/Montereau branch of Suburban Rail Line R. The MI 81 stock along the RER Line A is currently being replaced with the new MI 09 stock, which was introduced in 2011.

Some in Paris may wonder why the MI 81 is being replaced before its predecessor, the MS 61. My understanding is that the MI 81, though similar to its counterpart on the RER Line B, the MI 79, the MI 81 was constructed in a cheaper manner than the MI 79, resulting in greater wear and tear. As a result of this, none of the MI 81 stock have been heavily refurbished, unlike the MS 61. However, it seems that the STIF can put some of the MI 81 trains to good use for a few more years because they will not need extensive refurbishment to run on the other lines, probably just some minor aesthetic and mechanical improvements.

In addition to the possible movement of the MI 81 stock to the RER Line D and Suburban Rail Line R, the STIF is also proposing to bring forth 12 Z2N commuter rail trains to the northern portion of the RER Line D to strengthen service. These trains would be transferred from Suburban Rail Line P, which is currently getting the brand new Z 50000 series rolling stock (known also as the Francilien).


HARTride 2012

Line 12 of the Paris Metro

M12 Paris

Greetings everyone! As promised, I will be discussing Line 12 of the Paris Metro in this post. Line 12 is one of several vital north-south subway routes that traverse the wonderful city of Paris.

Line 12 starts in the southwestern suburbs of Issy, traveling northeastward through the neighborhood of St. Lambert, and making a brief southeast curve towards the rail station of Gare Montparnasse. After servicing Gare Montparnasse, the line curves northwestward along Boulevard Raspail towards the Seine.  Before arriving at the Seine, Line 12 takes a curve towards the north, where it eventually reaches Gare St. Lazare (another major rail station of Paris). Between Gare St. Lazare and Abbesses stations, the line twists and turns several times, making the journey rather unpleasant at times (however, most commuters don’t seem to notice). Beyond Abbesses station are the northern suburbs of Clignancourt and La Chapelle, by which the station of Porte de la Chapelle served as the line’s northern terminus for nearly a century. A new northern terminus at the southern fringe of Aubervilliers opened on December 18, 2012.

Method of construction:

Some of you will probably be able to tell just by the description in the last paragraph that Line 12 is a very curvy line. In fact, there are only a handful of straight segments along the route, since construction of the line was done using the “cut and cover” method, by which the street is dug out to make way for the subway tunnel, and then covered over when the tunnel is complete. This method is used frequently with subway construction and is a money saver over methods that have the subway tunnels built at a much lower depth. However, this method often leaves subway lines to be quite close to the surface and isn’t practical in environments where you have a lot of buildings in the area [1].

To see just how curvy Line 12 is, I’ve created a Google Map that depicts where the route travels.

A brief history:

Line 12 opened in 1910 as the Line A of the Nord-Sud Company, which was a private subway company. The Nord-Sud at the time was competing with the CMP (which stands for Compagnie du chemin de fer métropolitain de Paris), which was another private subway company. As the name would imply, the Nord-Sud had constructed subway lines that ran on a north-south axis, rather than the east-west axis of the various CMP lines. However, Nord-Sud only constructed two lines, with a third still under construction when the company was absorbed by the CMP during the 1930s. In 1948, the CMP in-turn, was absorbed by the the state-operated organization that is now known as the RATP (which stands for Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens).

The three Nord-Sud lines were originally known as Lines A, B, and C, while the CMP utilized a numbering convention for their lines. The first segment of Line A opened in 1910 between Porte de Versailles and Notre-Dame-de-Lorette. The line was then gradually extended northward to Jules Joffrin and southward to Mairie d’Issy. In 1916, the northern terminus at Porte de la Chapelle had opened. From that point until 2012, the configuration of Line A remained relatively unchanged. When Nord-Sud was absorbed by the CMP in the 1930s, the lines were re-numbered as 12, 13, and 14. Line 14 was eventually immersed into the current Line 13, when a tunnel underneath the Seine was constructed to link the two lines together [2].


Unlike many of the CMP-built lines, the Nord-Sud built lines are distinguished by their vaulted station ceilings and markings over the tunnel entrances that signal the direction of the terminus. These markings would read “Direction Montparnasse” to the south and “Direction Montmartre” to the north. Wall tiling was also very eloquent and distinct compared to some of the other subway lines. Originally, trains along Line 12 were powered by overhead wires instead of a third rail, like they are today [3].

Another highlight of Line 12 is the curved stairwell of station Abbesses and its colorful mural. At station Concorde, one can read the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which is spelled out along the tiled walls of the Line 12 platforms.

Northern Extension:

As I mentioned earlier; between 1916 and 2012, the configuration of Line 12 remained relatively unchanged. Plans to extend the line northward to Aubervillers and eventually towards La Courneuve surfaced during the 2000s. This project was separated into phases; with the first phase to Front Populaire to be built first. This phase began in 2008 and was completed in December of 2012. The press, RATP staff, and government officials were invited to the station on December 17, 2012 for the formal opening ceremonies. However, the public opening was not until a day later on December 18.

The second phase of the northern extension will take Line 12 to stations Aimé Césaire – Pont de Stains and Mairie d’Aubervilliers, going through the heart of the municipality of Aubervilliers. This phase is scheduled for completion in around 2017. A third and final phase will bring the line to La Courneuve, with stations at La Courneuve – Aubervilliers and La Courneuve – 6 Routes. The third phase will allow connections to the RER Commuter Rail Line B and Light Rail (Tramway) Line 1, and will allow for two subway lines to traverse through the municipalities of Aubervillers and La Courneuve (the other line is Line 7, which passes through these municipalities along the southern and eastern sides) [4][5].

A very spacious and modern station – Front Populaire:

Station Front Populaire is the 302nd station of the Paris Metro system. It is also the very first modernized subway station along the line. Again, no other segments have been built for Line 12 since 1916, so all of the other stations comprise of architecture that is reminiscent of the Metro of the 1910s.

Originally called station Proudhon – Gardinoux (to represent the intersection of Rue Proudhon and Rue des Gardinoux); station Front Populaire represents a marvelous yet comfortable environment. The color scheme used throughout the station comprise of mostly white, gray, brown, and green tones. A huge skylight allows for as much natural lighting as possible to reduce energy consumption. The station is also equipped with air conditioning to keep temperatures elevated at comfortable levels. The configuration of Front Populaire is very much in line with many modern Metro stations, in the sense that the station relies more on unified stairs and escalators to descend from ground level to subway level, rather than a maze of convoluted corridors that older stations possess. Elevators are also available to those who wish to use them, as well as those who would otherwise be unable to use the stairs or escalators [4][5].

As I was planning out this wonderful post; the Sound Landscapes Blog was already publishing their blog post regarding the new Front Populaire station. I invite you to check out the sounds of the MF 67 stock train as it wooshes through the new tracks of the extension. Compare that sound to the sound of the trains as they make their arrival at the southern terminus at Issy. You’ll notice the difference rather quickly.


Once again, I’ve made a listing of formal citations of websites/blogs by which I’ve pulled information from to make this blog posting possible. I really don’t like to use Wikipedia as a “source” because of reliability (or lack thereof). However, the article that Wikipedia has on Line 12 is probably the most detailed out of all of the articles that discuss each of the Paris Metro lines. Plus, some of the references used in the Wikipedia article were pulled from books by which I have no access to.

All citations listed below are formatted in the MLA format via Citation Machine. I’ve also numbered each source listing to represent the in-line citation within the blog post itself.

[1]  “Buliding Big – The Tunnel Challenge – Cut and Cover Technique.” Building Big. Public Broadcasting Service, n.d. Web. 11 Feb 2013. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/buildingbig/tunnel/challenge/sand/cut.html&gt;.

[2] “Paris Métro Line 12.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 22 Jan 2013. Web. 11 Feb 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Métro_Line_12&gt;.

[3]  “Les lignes du métro Parisien.” Symbioz. Symbioz Corp, 19 Oct 2012. Web. 11 Feb 2013. <http://www.symbioz.net/index.php?id=13&gt;

[4]  “”Front Populaire”, un nouvel horizon pour la ligne 12.”PARIS.fr. le département Paris numérique de la Direction de l’information et de la communication (DICOM), 174 Dec 2012. Web. 11 Feb 2013. <http://www.paris.fr/accueil/deplacements/front-populaire-un-nouvel-horizon-pour-la-ligne-12/rub_9648_actu_123742_port_23738&gt;.

[5] “Métro Line 12 Extended to Front Populaire.”Soundlandscapes’ Blog. N.p., 26 Jan 2013. Web. Web. 11 Feb. 2013. <http://soundlandscapes.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/metro-line-12-extended-to-front-populaire/&gt;.

Major changes are coming to my blog and websites

Greetings everyone!

A few days ago, I realized that I could do a lot more with my WordPress blog……A LOT MORE!

In fact, I came to the realization that I could build my entire transit fansite right here in WordPress, and have all of the pages revolve around my blog! I think it’s pretty cool that WordPress provides so much functionality and customization that the possibilities for my site is really unlimited. Plus, with a new focus area slowly coming to fruition (Hampton Roads, Virginia), I thought that now is the time to plan a total revamp my sites and make an exit from Google Sites. Not that I have a problem with Google Sites, but why should I deal with two totally distinct interfaces? It just makes things more complicated for me.

As many of you know already; in January of 2012, I had to temporarily close my transit fansites to re-focus on finishing my college education. Although I recently re-opened my Europe Transit as Told by HARTride 2012 site, my other two sites on Tampa and New York City remain closed and unfinished. I haven’t been able to take any new photos, or further expand on the content that I really want to expand on. I strongly feel that migrating all of my contents to WordPress will make it easier for me to manage my sites and engage my readers.

I ask you to please be patient, as this will be a process that will be done gradually, in phases. My first phase is to focus on building my focus pages for Hampton Roads, Va, followed by New York City. Then, I will slowly migrate content from my Europe and Tampa Bay focus sites and build up a new cluster of pages from there.

With all of this said, I would like to point out the first significant set of changes to my blog.

  • The Navigation Bar: I have housed the Community Rules section as a sub-section of Legal Stuff. I then updated the Legal Stuff page so that the photo use terms get housed into its own sub-section called Photo Use. I then did the same for the Kudos List. Finally; I made a fourth sub-section called Social Media to outline terms of use as they pertain to my content on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Transit Focus Pages: This will soon be the bread and butter of this blog. Currently, most of my transit content remains on websites that are hosted by Google Sites. During this year, I will slowly be migrating what I have from those sites into these new focus pages. I truly hope to achieve the same effect that I did before while adding in new content to engage my readers.

Please stay tuned for further updates, as I will be making a few more small yet significant additions prior to starting my larger project.

Warmest Regards,

HARTride 2012

New York City’s Grand Central Terminal turns 100!

The photo featured in this post was taken by me (HARTride 2012) during my 2011 visit to New York City.

Greetings everyone!

Grand Central Terminal, located in the heart of New York City, reached a significant milestone…it’s Centennial Birthday! 100 Years! With that said, I would like to take some time to share my own travels through Grand Central.

The first time that I traveled through Grand Central was in October of 1997, when my family and I rode Line 7 from Flushing (located in the borough of Queens) into the heart of Manhattan. During this time, the World’s Fair era “Redbird” trains were still in operation along Line 7 (and continued to operate on the line until 2003). However, I was far too young at the time to really appreciate the grandeur of Grand Central Terminal and I didn’t have much time to look around the station either, because my family and I were doing a lot of sightseeing.

My second visit to Grand Central in March of 2011 was much more humbling, as I was able to spend some time looking around the station’s many shops, snap some pictures of the main hall, and eat lunch (New York style pizza) in the underground food court. The thing I like the most about Grand Central is the main hall, and all of its beauty. From 1994 through the 2000s, Grand Central underwent a massive renovation to modernize and restore the facility. One of the key restoration projects was the ceiling of the main hall, which comprises of a painted mosaic. Over time, shopping and dining establishments were added to the facility to allow passengers to grab a quick bite to eat, and do a bit of shopping while waiting for their next train. In fact, according to the Grand Central Terminal website, there are nearly 70 shops and 35 dining establishments for passengers to take advantage of. One of the businesses in the terminal opened on December 9, 2011…can you guess which business this is? Find out the answer by clicking “Continue Reading”.

Read more

Paris RER E Extension Approved

Happy February everyone!

For those of you who reside in Paris, I have some wonderful news to report! The planned extension of the commuter rail line E has been approved, making way for a possible start of construction date in 2014!

Note: I’ve obtained some the information used for this blog post from the International Railway Journal article, Paris RER Line E extension approved. I’ve provided a formal citation at the end of this post using the MLA format (via Citation Machine). The remaining parts of this post uses info from Symbioz, which is in French. You can use a translating service to view Symbioz in your respective language.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Parisian transports, Line E is part of the RER Commuter Rail network in Paris, France. RER stands for Réseau Express Régional, or Regional Express Rail. Much of the system was built in segments during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, with some segments utilizing former passenger rail lines that were established long ago (such as the Ligne de Sceaux, which is a part of the RER Line B today). Line E opened to passengers in 1999 and is the fifth line to be constructed in the RER system. The line was originally known as project EOLE (which meant Est Ouest Liaison Express) during its planning and construction [1][2].

The current route connects Gare St. Lazare and Gare du Nord (via station Magenta, where connections to RER Lines B & D are available) to the western suburbs of Noisy-le-Sec, Chelles-Gournay, Val de Fontenay (where it connects to RER Line A), Villier-sur-Marne, and Tournan (among many others) [1]. The planned extension would bring the RER E to Mantes-la-Jolie via the La Defense district,  partially via the existing infrastructure of SNCF (which is the French National Railway) and one of the branches of the RER A. The other segment of the extension will consist of a new 8km tunnel that would be dug between Gare St. Lazare and La Defense, paralleling it with Line A near station Auber. Once the extension is complete, it is expected that travel time between La Defense and the western suburbs will be reduced by roughly 15 minutes. The extension will also relieve congestion on parts of Lines A & B [3].

With final approval granted for the extension of Line E (which is known as the Declaration of Public Utility), construction is set to begin sometime in 2014, with completion estimated to be sometime in 2020 [3].


[1] “Le RER E.” Symbioz. Symbioz Corp, 27 Apr 2010. Web. 3 Feb 2013. <http://www.symbioz.net/index.php?id=74&gt;.

[2] “La ligne de Sceaux.” Symbioz. Symbioz Corp, 23 Dec 2007. Web. 3 Feb 2013. <http://www.symbioz.net/index.php?id=70&gt;.

[3] Briginshaw, David. “Paris RER Line E extension approved.”International Railway Journal. 01 Feb 2013: n. page. Web. 3 Feb. 2013. <http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/commuter-rail/paris-rer-line-e-railway-extension-approved.html?channel=641&gt;.


Warmest Regards,

HARTride 2012