November (early) Friday Rewind – Looking back at HART MetroRapid’s first few months of service

Friday Rewind New 1

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, I will not be publishing any blog posts on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Additionally, there will be no social media activities on Thursday, and such activity will be limited through the weekend. And because I’m treading lightly this holiday weekend, I’ve decided to publish this month’s Friday Rewind post a couple days early! For this edition, let’s take a look back at my blog post from July 8, 2013, which was about some concerns I had about HART’s MetroRapid service.

Below is a snippet of the original post, you can read the full post here.

Could MetroRapid already be having a fever?

And what I mean by that is, could HART’s new MetroRapid service already be faltering? It’s almost like a person having a high fever, which that in of itself is never fun. One simply cannot focus on things needing to be done when he or she is sick. With a bus route, it simply can’t perform well if its running with vast inefficiencies, like the placement of bus stops, etc. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been hearing largely mixed reviews of HART’s new bus rapid transit system, and we haven’t even been given the first month’s ridership numbers yet! However, these reviews already give a somewhat grim synopsis of what could come if HART does not make key changes to the route soon.

Many newspaper and magazine articles that were published right around the debut of MetroRapid largely provided us with a positive outlook of what MetroRapid could be. And I stress just that…could be. Yes, there are always going to be the first day/first week jitters, just like students heading back to school after relishing in the long summer break. However, the reality is, if you have a group of people complaining week after week that the route doesn’t run right, and nothing has been done to address some of the issues that are allowed to persist, then something simply isn’t right. Based on what people have been saying, let me go ahead and outline some of the major issues that I strongly believe that HART must address and resolve NOW! Not five months down the road.

Since this blog post was published, I’ve received clarification from HART on a couple of matters, and the scheduling inefficiencies have since been resolved. Let’s take a look at the four main topics that I previously addressed in my post.

  • Confusion between HART Local and MetroRapid stops/shelters
  • Lack of Ticket Vending Machines at some stations
  • No posting of a route schedule or the route number for MetroRapid
  • Transit Signal Priority

Confusion between HART Local and MetroRapid stops/shelters

Now, this matter may not be resolved right away just because of how the MetroRapid line is running now. However, I still think that some stops should be consolidated in the future to reduce rider confusion. Honestly, there isn’t much more I can write about this topic for the moment, so let’s move onto the next one.

Lack of Ticket Vending Machines at some stations

One day, I was having a discussion on my Twitter feed about Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) along the HART and HRT (Norfolk, VA) systems. When I brought up the subject that only selected MetroRapid stations were equipped with TVMs, HART pointed out to me that the decision was made to only equip certain stations due to the high costs of installing TVMs. Now, for me to recall the exact dollar amounts would mean that I would have to dig through my old tweets, which I won’t do. But the principle of the matter is, as long as HART doesn’t have the funding needed to do things like install additional TVMs along the MetroRapid corridor, then there is only so much they can do with the funds they have in the meantime.

No posting of a route schedule or the route number for MetroRapid

This issue has been resolved since some scheduling tweaks took place back in August for MetroRapid. All trips have been streamlined to run every 15 minutes between the UATC and downtown, and the oddball 10:55am trip from downtown has been switched to 10:45am. Additionally, a couple time points were removed from the MetroRapid schedule, and the downtown portion of the route runs along Morgan St instead of the heavily congested Marion St. I strongly doubt that HART will put MetroRapid back onto Marion St until the traffic signal cycles can be modernized.

Another concern that I pointed out in my previous post was in regards to a lack of a full schedule timetable on goHART.org, as well as schedule booklets. Although I’m not sure about schedule books (I haven’t rode the HART system since MetroRapid began service) but I can tell you that HART has posted a full timetable on goHART.org since the August mark-up. You can see the full schedule here.

One issue that still remains is that the internal route number of 400 still isn’t as visible as I and a few others would like to see it. Perhaps this will change in 2014.

Transit Signal Priority (TSP)

TSP along the MetroRapid corridor is what it is folks. Nothing more to say here.

Ridership remains strong

Now, for some awesome news regarding MetroRapid! Since its June revenue launch, MetroRapid ridership has been strong, despite a few bumps in the road in the beginning (things like rider confusion over bus stops, etc.). During the month of October alone, MetroRapid ridership was just over 55,000! As we approach 2014, I have a better feeling than I did back in July that MetroRapid will be a glowing success to HART’s bus system!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!

HARTride 2012

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