The Infrastructure Funding Debate

I originally planned on posting this topic back on May 30, 2013, but I wanted to make sure that everything in this post is as accurate as possible.

On May 23, 2013, a section of the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River in Washington State, just north of Seattle, collapsed after a tractor trailer truck carrying an oversized load struck one of the span’s overhead beams. The bridge was constructed back in 1955, and many aging bridges like it have been classified as either “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete”. Yet our federal government has done only so much to improve our nation’s aging, crumbling infrastructure network.

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Transit Tourism – Norfolk, VA – Part 2

Westbound train headed towards the Eastern Virginia Medical Center. Photo taken by HARTride 2012. April, 2013.
A westbound LRT train on the Tide LRT Line, headed towards the Eastern Virginia Medical Center. Photo taken by HARTride 2012. April, 2013.

In my second installment of my transit experience in Norfolk, VA, I will go through what transit modes I used while visiting the city, and the observations I gathered while using them. In many respects, the Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) system has many similarities with the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) system here in Tampa. Both districts operate their bus systems on a hub-spoke type system, where bus routes originate from centralized transfer centers. Both districts also have Gillig-made buses, including sleek new buses that were ordered within the last three years. Both districts are also experiencing the same funding issues when it comes to expanding services and bus fleets. However, the key difference between the cities of Tampa and Norfolk, is that Norfolk has light rail, something that Tampa has been vying to get for many, many years now.

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FYI: Davis Island Bridge Work

Good Monday Morning everyone! I just heard from Chuck Henson at Bay News 9 that the City of Tampa will begin work on the water main that is situated beneath the northbound span of the Davis Island Bridge this week. This project is scheduled for completion in October, 2013. During this time, there will be intermittent lane closures, and the northbound off-ramp to northbound Bayshore Blvd may also be closed at times. Drivers will be detoured to Plant Ave and Platt St when this off-ramp is closed.

For HART Bus Route 19 and 46 Commuters: You should continue your daily commute per normal during this time, as the bridge will remain open at all times. Buses may be slightly delayed at times, but hopefully nothing more than five minutes. If you have any questions regarding your bus commute, please call HART Customer Service at (813)-254-4278.

PSTA Service Changes for June 2, 2013

CORRECTION: These changes actually took effect June 2, 2013. I had incorrectly stated the date at July 2, 2013. I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and would like to thank the PSTA staff for bringing this matter to my attention.

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) had its summer, 2012 service change (or “mark-up”) cycle take effect on June 2, 2013. These changes included two fixed bus routes, and three FLEX (or Connector) services. All of these changes were aimed at improving efficiency along these routes and eliminating under-performing segments and trips.

  • Route 52: Downtown Clearwater/Downtown St. Pete: Segment to Imperial Palms was eliminated and service to Avalon Ave/150th Ave N/62nd St N was reduced (please see revised schedule booklet for trips that will/will not serve this segment). Timepoints were adjusted along the entire route to improve efficiency.
  • Route 60: Downtown Clearwater/McMullen Booth Rd via Gulf-to-Bay Blvd: Keene Rd timepoint was removed, and remaining timepoints were adjusted to improve efficiency. Service between the Clearwater Mall and McMullen Booth Rd was reduced, with only selected trips running the entire route (please see revised schedule booklet for trips that will/will not serve this segment).
  • East Lake Connector: Saturday service was eliminated due to limited ridership.
  • Countryside/Oldsmar/Northwest Tampa Connector: Route modified to serve Westfield Countryside Mall. Additional PM trip added for both directions.
  • Dunedin/Palm Harbor Connector: Fixed route no longer serves the St. Mark Assisted Living Center. However, deviations may still be scheduled.

For additional information regarding these changes, please contact the PSTA InfoLine at (727)-540-1900.

Hampton Roads Transit Service Changes for July 7, 2013

7/8/13: These changes are now in effect!

Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) had its summer, 2012 service change (or “mark-up”) cycle take place on July 7, 2013. Most of the changes were associated with the transition of bus transfer operations from the previous Cedar Grove Transfer Center to an interim bus depot closer to the heart downtown Norfolk. Other changes included switching time points and/or adjusting running times on other routes in order to improve efficiency. In this post, which will be my first such post for the Hampton Roads, VA area, I will be going through each routing change and what it will mean for HRT customers.

Downtown Norfolk Interim Transit Center

The Cedar Grove Transfer Center permanently closed on July 7, 2013, and all current bus transfer operations have moved to an interim terminal located along Wood St in downtown Norfolk. This effort is part of a larger scale project to build a permanent, modern bus terminal near the heart of downtown Norfolk, just steps away from the Norfolk Scope Arena, and a few blocks away from the Tide LRT Line.

Local Bus Routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 17, 18, 20, 44, and 45, as well as MAX Express Routes 960 and 961, will all see routing modifications, time point changes, and possible running time changes in conjunction with the changes associated with the interim terminal. The terminal will be divided into three zones, each with their own assigned bus loading bays. HRT will set up signage throughout the three zones to help customers find the correct route. These zones are listed in the chart below.

ZONE A

(Dark Blue Signs)

ZONE B

(Light Blue Signs)

ZONE C

(Green Signs)

Local Route 2

Local Route 1

Local Route 13

Local Route 4

Local Route 44

Local Route 3

Local Route 17

Local Route 9

MAX Route 960

Local Route 6

Local Route 20

Local Route 11

MAX Route 961

Local Route 8

Local Route 45

Local Route 18

Note: The information in this chart comes directly from the HRT website.

Route 17 – Downtown (NET) Connector

The Route 17 Connector now runs in a one-directional loop around the downtown core, serving the interim terminal. As a result of this change, the Route 17 will no longer serve the Dominion Tower or the Harrison Opera House. Those wishing to catch the bus from the Opera House can still use Routes 2 or 11 to connect to the interim terminal.

Below is a map of the previous and now-current Route 17 configurations:

The new routing is in blue, and previous routing is in grey. Buses will travel in a clockwise pattern.

Route 23: Princess Anne Rd

Route 23 will not be serving the interim terminal and will instead stay along Princess Anne Rd. Those wishing to make connections to the interim terminal can transfer to one of the following routes.

  • Routes 2 & 44 at EVMC/Fort Norfolk LRT Station
  • Routes 2 & 44 at Norfolk General Hospital (Childrens Lane between Olney and Fairfax)
  • Routes 1 & 3 at Monticello Avenue and Princess Anne Road
  • Route 8 at Tidewater Drive and Princess Anne Road
  • Route 11 at Colonial Avenue and Princess Anne Road

Changes to other routes

The following routes were modified to help improve efficiency, whether it be routing and/or time point changes, and/or running time changes:

  • Route 4: Church Street and Route 16: Colley Avenue: HRT changed the layover location for both of these routes from the previous location at Powhatan Avenue and 44th Street to a new location at 49th Street and Quarantine Road (nearside Elkhorn Avenue). Some scheduling changes were also made in order to improve efficiency.
  • Route 15: Military Highway: Scheduling changes were made to improve transfer connections at the Evelyn T. Butts transfer center on weekdays after 7:00 pm.
  • Route 21: Little Creek Road: Scheduling changes were made to improve transfer connections at the Evelyn T. Butts transfer center on weekdays after 7:00 pm.
  • Route 26: Lynnhaven Parkway: Running times were changed to improve efficiency.
  • Route 29: Great Neck Road: Routing and scheduling changes were made along the route to improve efficiency.
    • The portion of the route along Mill Dam Rd, between First Colonial Rd and Great Neck Rd was eliminated. Service in this area will instead run along First Colonial Rd.
    • The 7:24 am trip departing Laskin Road and First Colonial Road traveling to Pleasure House Road and Shore Drive has changed to 7:21 am.
  • Route 36: Holland Road: Running times were changed to improve efficiency.
  • MAX Route 918: Running times were changed to improve efficiency.
  • MAX Route 960: Running times were changed to improve efficiency and to allow for better connections to Route 33 at 19th Street and Pacific Avenue.

Again, all of these changes took effect on July 7, 2013. For additional information regarding these changes, please contact HRT Customer Service at 757-222-6100.

A categorical mess

As I continue to build up my Tampa Bay and Hampton Roads portals, I will also be doing some much-needed “housecleaning”. First off, you will see just how many categories I have in my listing to the right. In fact, I have a total of 96 categories, and many of them I created back when my blog was still called the Tampa Transit Utopia Blog. In the coming weeks, I will be consolidating and reassigning categories to all of my posts to try to reduce the number of categories I have.

I’m also going to be reorganizing my About page, because I’m beginning to think that the current page is way too long. I will more than likely be separating the History section of the page into its own page.

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Site updates for the week of June 10, 2013

Some of you may have noticed a pretty huge spurt of activity here during the last few days. That’s because I’m currently working on migrating what remains left of my old Tampa Bay Transit website content over to my WordPress site/blog. At this point, pretty much 85% of all of the moving is finished. I only have the HART bus fleet pages left to work on, and I’m trying to figure out how best to move forth with composing the page layout, etc. For now, I’ve made some revisions to the existing pages on my old site and have posted links to those respective pages.

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No new funding = Cutbacks in future transit expansion

In my third installment of “No new funding (equals)”, I focus on some disappointing news that broke over the weekend in Hampton Roads, VA. The area’s two major transit districts; Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) and the Williamsburg Area Transit Authority (WATA) were slated to get a good amount of state and federal funds over the next six years to help replace aging buses and make other necessary improvements to their systems. Unfortunately, changes in the way that funding is calculated within two federal programs. These changes resulted in a much lower revenue estimate than originally planned, which in-turn, forced the Virginia Department of Transportation, and the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization, to substantially reduce the amount of funds that they would be allowed to dish out for various transportation projects throughout the region; including public transit.

So what does this funding reduction mean for both HRT and WATA? It means that neither district will have the funds available to purchase additional buses needed to replace older units and to expand their current fleets, which in-turn, means that both districts will have to hold onto older buses for a longer period of time, thus increasing maintenance costs. HRT was also hoping to be able to purchase a fourth ferry boat for its ferry system. That too has been delayed as a result of these changes. However, both districts will continue to explore other funding avenues to be able to obtain new buses.