Despite colder than usual weather that hit the Tampa Bay area during the month of January, HART and PSTA both shattered previous ridership records for the month! Let’s take a glance at the total bus ridership for both systems. Please note that HRT’s January numbers were not available at the time this post was published.
For the PSTA bus system in particular, January brought in the second-highest ridership for January ever! Although they were hoping to set another all-time record, the weather just didn’t let things play out that way. Nonetheless, PSTA is continuing to see modest gains in monthly and daily ridership, and many busy routes have packed buses. So much so, that it’s standing room only on some buses.
PSTA is hoping that the Greenlight Pinellas initiative, now entering its crucial second phase called YES for Greenlight, will help improve existing bus services, as well as build a framework for an eventual passenger rail system in Pinellas County. I’ll have a blog post up soon in regards to what challenges lie ahead for Greenlight Pinellas.
Going to the HART bus system, services like MetroRapid and HART’s continuing partnership with the University of South Florida (called the U-Pass program) are leading the way for record bus ridership for 2014! MetroRapid’s January, 2014 ridership was 49,184, and we could soon see those numbers surpass the 50,000 mark! While I can’t say that February will be that milestone month, I do think that that milestone will be reached by April, 2014.
The USF U-Pass program allows active USF students (with a valid USF ID card) to use HART local, limited express, and HART FLEX routes, as well as MetroRapid, at no additional charge (see my blog post about the USF U-Pass Program and the USF Bull Runner Shuttle for details on how the program works). The U-Pass Program represented roughly 4% of HART’s January gains, with FY 2013/2014 usage increasing by 12% over FY 2012/2013! I suspect that these increases will continue through 2014, especially with the recent increase in bus service for the USF Tampa Campus area.
Back in November, 2013, HART increased evening bus services for both Routes 5 and 6, which allows students to commute home from evening classes, as well as provide a continual transit link to the USF Tampa Campus for those study breaks at the campus library, which is open 24 hours from 12 Noon Sunday through 6pm Friday during the Fall and Spring semesters! Route 5 in particular serves the heart of the USF Tampa Campus, serving the Engineering and Medical campuses. Route 6 traverses USF Holly Drive’s residence halls and allows for a quick walk to the USF Marshall Center (Student Union). Additionally, Route 18 travels through the USF Tampa Medical Campus, and Route 57 and the MetroRapid North-South Line allow for students to enter the Tampa Campus from the north via Fletcher Ave.
So what will the month of February hold for public transit? We shall see…