Happy Thursday everyone! I’m needing to report about a subway station closure in Paris due to renovation work. I know my post comes just a bit late, but it’s better late than never, so here goes!
For the next several months, the subway station Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre (which serve the 1 and 7 trains) will undergo a major renovation project to help improve the long-term viability of the station. Since many subway stations along the Paris system are over 60 years old, many have fallen victim to severe water intrusion and are needing to have ceilings and walls redone. Additionally, some platforms need to be heightened to be more level with railcar doors. Some stations are even undergoing accessibility improvements that will bring forth elevator access to those who utilize a wheelchair. The latter improvement is only being implemented at certain stations for now due to costs, but hopefully one day, most major subway stations in Paris will be wheelchair accessible.
Now I don’t always report on station closures like this simply due to my busy schedule. There are usually tons of closures just like this along subway stations world wide throughout the year. However, I’m reporting on this particular station because it is a high-traffic station that is utilized by thousands of tourists, as it serves as a key transit gateway to the Louvre. Thousands of tourists flock to the Louvre each day, which often leads to packed trains in this particular area.
When will these closures occur?
Renovation of this station actually began back in late 2012, but advance notice was needed to alert customers to these closures. The entire Line 1 platform closed on January 6, and they will remain closed until March 2. The Line 7 platforms will close from May 4 to July 24, 2014.
How will I get around?
I’ve posted a diagram of nearby stations that you can easily access if you need to get to and from the subway around the area of the Louvre. For Line 1 customers, Louvre-Rivoli or Tuilleries will be your closest stops. For Line 7 customers, Pont Neuf will be your closest stop. However, for those wishing to change over from Line 7 to Line 1 at Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre, you’ll have to transfer lines at Châtelet – Les Halles.
Once the renovation of station Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre is complete, you can expect to see a much better station. Also in 2014, a planned extended overhaul of station Château Rouge is set to get underway, which will include an expanded entrance hall, accessibility improvements, and a refreshed look. These and many other renewal projects will allow for a neater and better functioning subway system for years to come!
Monday, January 20, 2013 is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, where we take a moment to celebrate the life and achievements of the famed Civil Rights leader. Unlike most Federal holidays, where transit services are typically limited to weekend-level services, most transit districts tend to operate on a typical weekday schedule on MLK Day. Some districts however may operate on a Saturday schedule.
In the Tampa Bay Area, PSTA, MCAT, and SCAT will operate on a normal weekday schedule, as well as various trolleybus routes, and the TECOline Streetcar. HART bus services will operate on a Saturday schedule (no Express, MetroRapid, FLEX – except the Northdale route, and trolleybus). Transit services in Polk, Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus will not operate.
In the Orlando area, LYNX will operate a normal weekday schedule.
In the Hampton Roads Area, the HRT bus system will operate on a Saturday schedule. However, LRT and Ferry services will operate on a normal weekday schedule.
If you have any questions regarding holiday transit services, please contact your respective transit district for details. Customer service centers will be open normal hours (unless otherwise specified by the transit district). Customer service centers will be closed in districts that do not operate services on MLK Day.
In Tampa, HART customer service centers at the UATC and Marion/Downtown will be open from 7:00am until 5:00pm. HART on Franklin will be closed. The HART InfoLine will be available between 8:00am until 5:00pm.
In Norfolk and Hampton, VA, HRT customer service centers will be staffed from 9:00am until 4:00pm. The Silverleaf customer service center will be closed.
Good Tuesday morning everyone! I just thought I would help spread the word to those in the Tampa Bay Area who use the HART bus system. Even if you don’t use HART on a regular basis, if you’ve visited their website, you’ll know that it is in need of a major update (for instance, that flash photo montage is getting quite old, and the site as it is is somewhat difficult to navigate). A few days ago, HART posted a downloadable survey asking customers some questions about what they would like to see in the new website. I encourage you to take a few minutes and fill out the survey, and submit it to HART.
At the end of the survey form, you have a few options on how to submit your form to HART so that they can take a look at your feedback and make the necessary considerations for the new site. You’ll either be able to send an email with the completed survey attached, or mail or fax your completed survey to their offices. The deadline for submitting completed surveys is February 14, 2014 (exactly one month from today). Please keep in mind that you will need Adobe Reader to view and print the survey, as it is in a PDF format. If you do not have the latest version of Adobe Reader, please click here to go to the Adobe website. Installation of the reader takes only a few minutes!
To visit the HART website survey form, please go to the HART website at www.GoHART.org and select the corresponding link in the website survey box on the main page.
With the new Interstate 4/Selmon Expressway Connector now open to traffic, something came to mind back in late December, 2013, that I think Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) should take a look into, although it may never come to reality. What I think HART should examine is the possibility of re-routing Route 51X to run along the new connector highway from I-4 to the Selmon Expressway, then into downtown to connect to the Marion St Transitway during the morning rush.
Currently, Route 51X operates in a rather oddball manner, compared to most express routes. The northernmost portion runs from the Victorious Life Church Park-and-Ride Lot at State Rd 54 in Pasco County. The route then travels along portions of SR 54, Cypress Creek Rd, and County Line Rd. The route then connects to the Crossroads Community United Methodist Church Park-anb-Ride Lot before proceeding to Bruce B. Downs Blvd.
Once on Bruce B. Downs Blvd, Route 51X makes a third major stop at the Lowes Park-and-Ride Lot on Bruce B. Downs Blvd, just west of I-75. From there, the route splits into two segments between this Park-and-Ride Lot and downtown Tampa. In the mornings, buses proceed down southbound I-75 to westbound I-4 to proceed into downtown and the Marion St Transitway. In the afternoon, buses exit the Marion St Transitway and travel northbound along I-275 to the Bearss Ave exit, then travel along Bearss Ave and Bruce B. Downs Blvd to the Lowes Park-N-Ride Lot.
Why the deviation in morning and afternoon routes? Because traffic is so heavy along I-275 southbound in the morning that it would heavily delay morning trips. This is mainly due to the I-4/I-275 junction still not functioning as it should be after its 2003 reconstruction project, as well as congestion caused by inefficiencies with I-275 west of Downtown. The latter, I hope will be fixed when the downtown to WestShore segment reconstruction is completed in 2016, but I won’t hold my breath on that. In fact, HART’s Route 20X is consistently having to deal with these morning delays along I-275 during the morning rush.
For those not familiar with HART Route 51X, the route was implemented in November, 2005 as an effort to bring riders into downtown Tampa from parts of Pasco County. This addition was part of HART’s Commuter Express system initiative. Route 51X was specifically implemented to target Wesley Chapel customers and has seen modest ridership since its implementation. Do you recall the interim Purple People Eater livery that was painted on 2005 and 2006-series buses? Yep, that was done originally for the Commuter Express re-branding of HART’s express routes.
Click here to view a map showing what I think the AM route should look like.
Now, what if HART brought the morning segment of Route 51X from its current routing along I-4 from 34th St to I-275, to instead run along the I-4/Selmon Connector highway, to Exit 7 of the Selmon Expressway? Buses would be able to still use the Marion St Transitway, but would enter the transitway from the south instead of the north. I think that in the long run, it would be able to shave a few minutes off commute times and avoid any headaches of the I-275/I-4 junction during the morning rush.
Will this happen?
Probably not. From what I’ve heard, HART prefers to have many of its express routes connect to the Marion Transit Center first, before traversing down the Marion St Transitway, because not all express bus riders work in downtown. Some customers use the express routes to connect to local routes in the area via the MTC, so altering a route like 51X could actually result in the loss of ridership, which definitely would not be worth the changeover. With that said, will the connector be used for future express routes? Absolutely! There’s no doubt in my mind that with additional funding, HART probably would consider adding a couple express routes that would use the connector regularly.
Happy Wednesday everyone! I have some excellent news for those of you who frequent Tampa’s busy freeway and toll road system! A wonderful New Year’s gift if I may say!
On the morning of Monday, January 6, 2013, the highly anticipated Interstate 4/Selmon Expressway Connector opened to traffic! The roughly one-mile elevated highway is located above the CSX rail line corridor that runs along 31st St, just east of Downtown Tampa. The highway has actually been on state planning books since the 1980s, but was pushed to the forefront in the mid to late 1990s when state and local officials realized that Tampa’s continual growth, coupled with increasing freight truck traffic through the historic Ybor City district, were facilitating a greater need for the highway to be constructed.
One key purpose of the I-4/Selmon Connector is to remove freight truck traffic from 21st and 22nd Streets, which run through the heart of the historic Ybor City district. Over the years, large trucks have caused tons of wear and tear on both streets, creating tons and tons of potholes and rough surfaces. Many trucks often carry hazardous materials (i.e. fuels, chemicals), which posed a serious threat to the many historic buildings within Ybor. Literally one accident involving a hazardous cargo truck could very have caused a monumental disaster for the entire area!
The other key purpose of the I-4/Selmon Connector is to create free-flowing, high-speed traffic routes between major parts of Hillsborough County, which in-turn, provides for an additional hurricane evacuation route. For safety reasons, directional movement is restricted and separated. Commuters travelling from eastbound I-4 to eastbound Selmon are physically separated from those travelling from westbound I-4 to westbound Selmon. Truck traffic going to and from the Port of Tampa have access to both directions of I-4.
One can now travel between South Tampa/MacDill AFB to Lakeland, Orlando, Daytona Beach, and other points northeastward without exiting off in Downtown Tampa, or travelling up I-75. One can also travel between South Tampa/MacDill AFB to New Tampa and USF without travelling along I-275 (thus avoiding all of the I-275 construction projects and Malfunction Junction).
One can now travel from St. Petersburg and central Pinellas County to New Tampa, USF, Lakeland, Orlando, Daytona Beach, and other points northeastward by using Gandy Blvd and the Selmon Expressway instead of I-275 (thus avoiding all of the I-275 construction projects and Malfunction Junction).
One can now travel between Tampa International Airport and Brandon (Falkenburg Rd or Brandon Pkwy) without ever encountering a traffic signal.
One can now travel between northern Pinellas County (or northwestern Hillsborough County) and Southeastern Hillsborough County without having to jog all the way up I-75 to connect with I-4, then jog back south to connect to I-275.
The above are just four cris-crossing points. There are more points of interest that you can now easily access without ever getting off an exit in between highways.
Now keep in mind that the I-4/Selmon Connector is a toll road! There are no manned toll plazas along the highway, as such are being gradually phased out nationwide. Instead, FDOT has installed an overhead gantry (which frankly looks like traditional toll plaza) just north of the Selmon Expressway junction that collects tolls automatically. If you travel along the Selmon regularly, or reside in the Orlando or Miami areas and have used some of their toll roads, then you know exactly what I speak of.
The cost of travelling the new connector will greatly vary by which direction you’re travelling. If you use a SunPass transponder, then you’re entitled to the 25 cent discount that you get when you travel other state toll roads. If you frequent any of Florida’s toll roads, getting a SunPass is your best bet when it comes to travelling the new connector! If you don’t have a SunPass (especially if you’re travelling from out of state, or are an occasional toll road commuter), then don’t worry, you can still use the connector via “We Bill You” or Toll-by-Plate (as the program is officially called). With Toll-by-Plate, cameras take a photo of your license plate and the Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise sends you a bill in the mail. Please know that with Toll-by-Plate, there is a $2.50 administrative charge (which goes to operational expenses associated with operating the Toll-by-Plate program).
Here’s the full breakdown of toll fees, as set by Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).
Eastbound I-4 to Eastbound Selmon (S-Movement):
$1.25 – “We Bill You”/Toll-by-Plate
$1.00 – SunPass
Westbound I-4 to Westbound Selmon (Z-Movement):
$0.75 – “We Bill You”/Toll-by-Plate
$0.50 – SunPass
Truck traffic, regardless of direction (T-Movement):
$1.25 – “We Bill You”/Toll-by-Plate
$1.00 – SunPass
FLAT RATE FOR ALL PORT OF TAMPA TRAFFIC! (All trucks going to the Port of Tampa will pay the fees above regardless of how many axles the truck has)
Click here for a PDF Document of the full toll schedule from FDOT (including tolls for vehicles with more than 2 axles).
Orlando’s E-Pass and LeeWay transponders are also accepted along Florida’s toll roads, including the I-4/Selmon Connector.
North Carolina’s QuickPass recently rolled out inter-operability with SunPass transponders (and vice-versa), so that customers from both states can use each other’s toll roads without having to worry about purchasing separate systems.
Plans are currently in the works to bring forth similar agreements with other transportation authorities by 2016. This includes an eventual agreement with the EZ-Pass Consortium, which operates transponder systems in the Northeastern US.
Watch your speed!
Please watch your speed as you travel along the connector, ESPECIALLY ALONG THE ENTRY/EXIT RAMPS! The ramps over I-4 curve somewhat sharply, so the advised travel speed along these ramps are 30-MPH. Also use extra caution when entering westbound I-4, as the acceleration lane abruptly ends, and the entry ramp is situated on the left. These left-hand ramps will ultimately be modified should FDOT build managed lanes along several segments of I-4 and I-275, as well as I-75. The eventual addition of managed lanes will also lead to the construction of four additional ramps from the connector to I-4.
No Reversible Express Lane access to the connector!
Another thing that I want to stress is that the Upper Deck of the Selmon (also known as the Reversible Express Lanes, or REL) DOES NOT PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE CONNECTOR! Because the REL was designed specifically for traffic travelling between Brandon and Downtown Tampa, there were no provisions made for these lanes to connect to I-4. The only provision to the REL that was made for the connector’s construction is the at-grade section of the REL between 26th St and 39th St (to facilitate construction of the flyover ramps). Commuters wishing to connect to I-4 MUST USE the Lower Deck (or Local Lanes) of the Selmon.
However, commuters coming from Brandon in the mornings can still use the Brandon Parkway feeders and then transition over to the Local Lanes via the slip ramp just west of US 301. And vice-versa, afternoon commuters can enter the Brandon Parkway feeders by using the slip ramp just west of US 301.
Below, I’ve listed some helpful links by which you can learn more info about Florida’s Toll-by-Plate Program, as well as SunPass, and other related stuff.
The photos showcased in this post were all taken by HARTride 2012 (website admin) under safe driving conditions. As you can see from the photos, traffic was extremely light along the highway.
With that said, please keep in mind to exercise safe driving habits and be courteous to other drivers out on the roads. Also, PLEASE NO TEXTING AND DRIVING! Florida, Virginia, and many other states now have laws in place that legally prohibit texting while driving. You don’t want to get into a wreck just because of a text message! They can wait!
Happy New Year everyone! I thought I would make a brief post about my revised blogging schedule for the week ahead. My working schedule these past two weeks have made it difficult for me to complete my year-end posts on time, and thus everything had to be pushed back another week. Below is a tentative revised blogging schedule for the week ahead. I thank everyone for their patience and apologize for any inconvenience.
Due to inclement weather in the Tampa Bay Area, the opening of the I-4/Selmon Connector will be delayed until next week (week of 1/6/14). Therefore, my corresponding blog posts will also be pushed back. The schedule below has been changed to reflect these delays.
NO BLOG POSTS UNTIL WED, 1/8!!!
Wed 1/8: Selmon Connector posts+
Thurs 1/9: 2013 Year in Review – Part 1 & 2013 Blog Stats.
Fri 1/10: 2013 Year in Review – Part 2.
Sat 1/11: Transit Tourism – Norfolk, VA – Part 3
Sun 1/12: TBA
+Selmon Connector is now slated to open Monday, 1/6. However, if Sunday’s rains further delay final prep work, the opening could be further delayed to Tuesday, 1/7 or Wednesday, 1/8.