Greenlight Pinellas Update – A poll shows…

Earlier this month, I blogged about the different factors that impacted the Greenlight Pinellas voter referendum. Well, a recent poll has shown that regardless of whether or not light rail was in the equation, many voters simply did not want to be taxed…not even by another penny. That goes into the final point that I made in my last post, which was the overall state of the economy and taxation.

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Thanksgiving Weekend 2014 Holiday Services

It’s that time again, that time where we all gather with our families for Thanksgiving. Now, this year is going to be a bit different with some retail stores being open on Thanksgiving Day. However, most transit districts will be keeping in the tradition of running limited weekend-level services on Thursday, November 27, 2013, with some districts not operating at all. As in the past as well, some districts may run only limited services on Black Friday, which is Friday, November 28, 2013. Please see the matrix below to see what level schedule your area transit district will operate at during the Thanksgiving Weekend.

This year, I’ve complied information from various transit agencies here in Tampa Bay, as well as LYNX and SunRail in Orlando, StarMetro in Tallahassee, and HRT in Hampton/Norfolk, VA and placed the information onto an Excel Spreadsheet, which can be downloaded from Dropbox. Don’t have a Dropbox account? Not a problem! Anyone can access and download this file. Even then, Dropbox provides a free “basic” service for you to upload and share files to.

For transit service information in the New York City metropolitan region, please visit mta.info, as their schedules may greatly vary depending on day and transit mode. For PATH train and interstate bus service information, please visit the NY/NJ Port Authority website.

The Chicago CTA typically runs a SUNDAY SCHEDULE on major holidays. Please visit the CTA website for further information.

Thanksgiving Holiday Schedule

  • Access the Winter 2014 Holiday Transit Schedule Table for the following agencies.
    • HART (Hillsborough County/Tampa)
    • PSTA (Pinellas County/St. Pete/Clearwater)
    • MCAT (Manatee County/Bradenton)
    • SCAT (Sarasota County/Sarasota)
    • PCPT (Pasco County)
    • Hernando THEbus (Hernando County)
    • Citrus County Transit Services
    • Polk County Transit Services
    • LYNX (Orlando Metro Area)
    • SunRail (FDOT)
    • StarMetro (Tallahassee)
    • HRT (Hampton/Norfolk, VA)

Customer Service Hours

UPDATE – 11/24/14: LYNX (Orlando Metro Area) Customer Services will close beginning at 5:00pm on Wednesday, November 26, 2014, which includes the customer service window at the LYNX Central Station. Their call center will close at 5:30pm the same day. Customer service will reopen on Friday, November 28, 2014. Please keep this in mind as you go about your day on Wednesday. (Source).

Hours of operation for customer service centers vary by district. If your district does not operate service on Thanksgiving Day, their customer service centers will also be closed that day. Some centers will also be closed on Black Friday, or may have limited hours. Please contact your district directly to see what hours their customer service department will operate.

Below, I’ve listed information for HART, PSTA, and HRT.

  • HART (Tampa) – 813-254-4278
    • Customer Service Centers will be CLOSED on Thanksgiving Day
    • InfoLine will be staffed from 8am to 5pm both Thanksgiving and Black Friday
    • Customer Service Centers will be open from 7am to 5pm on Black Friday
    • HART Customer Services at Tampa City Hall will also be CLOSED on both Thanksgiving and on Black Friday
  • PSTA (St. Pete/Clearwater) – 727-540-1900
    • Customer Service Centers and InfoLine will be CLOSED on Thanksgiving Day
    • Customer Service Centers will be staffed regular weekday hours on Black Friday
    • InfoLine will be staffed from 8am to 4:30pm on Black Friday
  • HRT (Norfolk/Hampton) – 757-222-6100
    • Customer Service Centers and InfoLine will be CLOSED on Thanksgiving Day
    • Customer Service Centers and InfoLine will be staffed from 9am to 4pm on Black Friday

The following transit district provide Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) for your convenience.

  • HART (Tampa)
    • TECOline Streetcar Corridor
    • Select stations along the HART MetroRapid Corridor
    • Northwest Transfer Center
    • West Tampa Transfer Center
  • HRT (Norfolk/Hampton) – IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT A RECENT SYSTEM UPDATE – PLEASE READ.
    • The Tide LRT Corridor
    • Hampton Transfer Center
    • Newport News Transfer Center
    • High St Ferry Station (IMPORTANT NOTICE).
    • HRT Facility on 18th St in Norfolk
  • CTA (Chicago)
    • Various locations throughout the system
  • NYCMTA (New York City)
    • Various locations throughout the system

As always, if you see something here that is incorrect, please let me know.

Transit Ridership Summary updated with September, 2014 figures

The Transit Ridership Summary table has been updated with September, 2014 figures! In addition, I’ve also included preliminary figures for HART’s bus and streetcar ridership for the month of October. More on how well HART did for October in just a few moments.

The Transit Ridership Summary table can be accessed and downloaded through Dropbox. Don’t have a Dropbox account? Not a problem! Anyone can access and download this file. Even then, Dropbox provides a free “basic” service for you to upload and share files to.

For those of you who may have missed my last post, I am now listing ridership figures on an Excel spreadsheet, as opposed to creating a detailed blog post every month with figures. Please note that since I am publishing figures for three transit agencies, HART, PSTA, and HRT, that there may be a delay in posting, since each agency releases ridership figures at different times.

As always, these ridership figures are obtained from publicly accessible sources, such as board meeting packets, and cannot be considered as copyrighted or proprietary.

Access the May – September Transit Ridership Summary

HART shatters ridership records for October!

In what has to be the best October yet, HART has reported that 1,438,947 rides were taken on board its bus system, which is the highest singular month of bus ridership in the agency’s 35-year history! October, 2014’s bus ridership (which includes local and express bus routes, as well as MetroRapid and Flex services) reflects an almost 6% increase over October, 2013, which equates to 79,183 more riders for the month!

In addition to the overall bus ridership record, MetroRapid set its own all-time high at 57,513 rides for October, 2014! Streetcar ridership was modest compared to last October, with 23,893 riders using the line, an 8.2% increase over October, 2013.

Finally, HART’s Universal Pass Agreement with the University of South Florida Tampa Campus has contributed to the increased ridership for October, with an increase of 9.5%, or 4,737 trips, over October, 2013! More stats can be found on HART’s Blogger Blog, with the full ridership report to be released sometime towards the end of November.

Moving Ahead with Hillsborough County

Despite the hard referendum losses in Pinellas, Polk, and Alachua counties last week, Hillsborough County is moving ahead with efforts to place a sales tax referendum onto the 2016 ballot. Seeing an email this morning from transit advocacy group Connect Tampa Bay reinforces why we need better public transportation in the Tampa Bay Area, and why the status quo is no longer acceptable for residents, businesses, and visitors alike.

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FREE WiFi INTERNET NOW AVAILABLE ON ALL PSTA BUSES

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) is now providing FREE WiFi on board ALL agency buses.

Ride PSTA

St. Petersburg, Fla. – Fast, convenient wireless WiFi internet is now available on all PSTA buses, as of Friday, October 31. Installation teams received and installed the final batch of AT&T wireless modems into PSTA buses and connectors by Friday morning, and testing confirmed that all vehicles in the active fleet are up and running.

Previously, WiFi was available on 20 of PSTA’s 203 vehicles. Passengers will now be able to use high speed WiFi free of charge on all PSTA vehicles to browse the Internet, watch movies, listen to music and more. The project took three weeks to complete, and installers worked late evening, weekends and overnight hours to ensure that installation would not inconvenience passengers.

“Whether commuting to work, riding to school, visiting family or enjoying America’s best beaches, PSTA’s passengers can now enjoy free high speed Internet while getting around Pinellas County safely and comfortably,” said PSTA…

View original post 37 more words

Veterans Day 2014 Salute

For Veterans Day this year, I’ve decided to do something a little different than in the previous two years. In 2012 and 2013, I did a “photo find” style post, where I shared photos of the various US military branches from social media outlets. However this year, I’ve decided to focus on community events that are dedicated to recognizing the hard work that our military personnel do each and every day!

The Tampa Bay area comprises of a strong military community. MacDill Air Force Base in South Tampa has played a crucial role in US military operations since 1939. The base is home to the United States Central Command, which has played a key role in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the United States Special Operations Command and the 6th Air Mobility Wing. Additionally, companies such as Honeywell and Lockheed Martin, have facilities right here in the Tampa Bay Area.

This past weekend, Robinson High School, with the help of various military and local business partners, held a tribute event for our military members. The afternoon began with a showcase of military units near the school’s football field. Later in the evening, the school’s band held a wonderful concert dedicated to all those who have served in military, both past and present! The school hopes to make this an annual event!

A US Marine Corps assault vehicle. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.
A US Marine Corps assault vehicle. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.
US Coast Guard members educate the public of how their operations work. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.
US Coast Guard members educate the public of how their operations work. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

Another event, this one by which the Tampa Bay Area as a whole always benefits from, is the MacDill AirFest – now known as the Tampa Bay AirFest. This event showcases the many vehicles, aircraft, and other resources that our military members use on a regular basis to help defend our country, as well as various civilian displays. For many years, the AirFest was an annual event, which during the 1990s, included a children’s carnival full of games and rides, and various weaponry displays. Both have been done away with since 2001.

Due to security concerns, the AirFest was not held in 2002. There was also not an event in 2012, because the 2011 event was held in November of that year. In 2013, Federal level budget cuts forced the cancellation of the 2013 event. Since the 2014 event, many air shows throughout the nation will no longer be held on an annual basis, but rather on a 15 to 24 month basis. Additionally, the Federal government will no longer put out as much funding for these events as they used to, leaving huge fundraising efforts laying on the laps of local municipalities, who in-turn must do more things than ever before to round in corporate and organizational sponsorships.

One of many military planes on display at the 2014 Tampa Bay AirFest. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.
One of many military planes on display at the 2014 Tampa Bay AirFest. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.
Civilian organizational partnerships have become more vital than ever when it comes to hosting an air show within the United States. This is "Benny" the VW Beetle, used by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office for community outreach. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.
Civilian organizational partnerships have become more vital than ever when it comes to hosting an air show within the United States. This is “Benny” the VW Beetle, used by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for community outreach. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

While there are a wide array of events on Veterans Day, such as festivals and parades, there are many other events held throughout the year that are dedicated to our hardworking military members. Please be sure to check with local media outlets regularly for upcoming events!

TO OUR MILITARY MEMBERS, PAST AND PRESENT, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SERVICE!

HARTride 2012

Veterans Day 2014 Holiday Transit Schedule

Veterans Day will be on Tuesday, November 11, 2013. 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 Veterans Day, with some districts operating weekday services with modifications.

One exception is HART, which typically runs Saturday-level local bus services on Veterans Day. HART will not run express bus services, MetroRapid, and most HARTflex routes (with the exception of the Northdale route).

Holiday Transit Service Scope

Please view the listing below to see what schedule your area’s transit district will be operating on Veterans Day.

Normal Weekday-Level Service:

  • TECOline Streetcar Line
  • PSTA Local, Express, and Trolleybus Routes
  • Hampton Roads Transit – All Modes (see exceptions under the No Service section).
  • MCAT and SCAT bus services
  • LYNX Orlando Metro Area bus services (see exceptions under the No Service section).
  • Orlando SunRail

Saturday-Level Service:

  • HART Local Bus Routes
  • HART Flex Northdale Service

No Services:

  • HART Express Routes
  • HART MetroRapid
  • HART Flex (except HART Flex Northdale)
  • HRT Express Routes 918, 919, 922, and 965
  • Northern Tampa Bay Transit Districts (Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus Counties)
  • Polk Transit Services (Lakeland and Winter Haven)
  • LYNX Intercounty Routes 416 and 427 (to Polk County).

Veterans and Active Duty Military can ride on the following transit modes for FREE on Veterans Day!

Yes, you heard right, the following transit agencies are allowing active duty military, as well as retired military members, to us their systems for FREE with a valid military or veteran ID. Please contact your respective transit district for further details.

  • HART (excludes the TECOline Streetcar and Paratransit services)
  • PSTA (excludes DART/Paratransit services)

Please let me know if there is any agency that I missed.

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). HART will follow the Holiday Customer Service schedule (8:00am until 5:00pm)

What happened to Greenlight Pinellas?

Today’s post goes more in depth as to why the Greenlight Pinellas referendum failed so horribly on Tuesday, as well as to what’s next for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, and the Tampa Bay region as a whole.

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Florida’s sales tax referendums suffer a massive defeat at the polls

This morning, we are waking up to some sad news in several Florida counties. And no, it’s not just the Governor’s race, for those of you who voted against our current governor. As many will know; Pinellas, Polk, Alachua, and Hernando Counties all had placed sales tax referendums on their respective ballots. Although these referendums were different in scope, all of them would have created better communities by improving aging infrastructure and/or by improving public transit systems.

As many will also know, back in 2010, Hillsborough County attempted to pass its own sales tax referendum, geared at improving and expanding public transit within the county. That measure failed by 58/42% margin. In the wake of that defeat, both Pinellas and Polk counties placed their respective sales tax referendums on the November 4, 2014 ballot in hopes that they would not suffer the same fate as Hillsborough. Unfortunately, neither referendum, along with Alachua and Hernando, passed. In fact, Hernando’s margin was similar to that to Hillsborough’s, and the other three counties fared even worse.

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