2015 will be crucial for SunRail – An important message to the public

A SunRail train waits at the Sand Lake Rd station. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.
A SunRail train waits at the Sand Lake Rd station. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

Hi everyone, HARTride 2012 here. I know I said that the 2014 Year-End Recap was going to be my final post for 2014. But I felt that I needed to convey something as soon as possible, while the “iron is still hot” so to speak. Anyways, we’re only hours away from kicking off the new year, and there’s going to be a lot at stake in 2015 when it comes to public transit in Florida. In particular, the SunRail Commuter Rail line in Orlando has reached a critical point in its young history. That critical point is the expansion of service that people throughout the Orlando metro area have been asking for.

The SunRail #NightTrain…why it’s so important.

Back in December, an announcement was made that a late-evening test train would begin service on the 22nd of that month, all in response to a petition that was signed by over 3,400 people, yeah…that’s a lot of signatures! So WAY TO GO! Yes, this is exactly what Orlando needs, more passenger rail service in the evening! This allows people to head out to see an Orlando Magic game, or have a nice evening out on the town with friends, all without having to worry about being stranded. Whatever the reason for staying late in downtown Orlando, now you have a way to get home that doesn’t have to involve your car.

Now, while this later evening train, which leaves DeBary at 9:05pm, arriving at Sand Lake Rd at 10:08pm, before departing northbound from Sand Lake at 10:20pm to arrive back at DeBary at 11:23pm, is great news, the momentum cannot stop here. We have to keep up the pressure on state and local leaders to not only make this trip permanent, but also usher in late night service that runs through 12-midnight, more frequency during the midday, and weekend services. The first and foremost way you can do just that, is by riding SunRail. If your destination lies within range of the SunRail corridor, you can easily leave your car at home, or park it at one of several suburban area park-n-ride lots, and use the train to reach a particular station of your choice. From there, you can easily connect to LYNX buses that will take you to most major destinations. From the DeBary station, you can connect to VoTran buses that will take you to nearby areas quickly and safely.

If you can’t ride SunRail regularly, that’s okay. Being that I’m in Tampa, I really can only use SunRail on occaision. However, I did get to use it during the fare-free week back in May of 2014, and I absolutely loved it! If I resided in Orlando, I would be using that train every chance I could…seriously…I would. But anyways, please, if you can’t ride SunRail regularly, tell your family members, friends, coworkers, and anyone else you know who could take advantage of SunRail, to use SunRail. The more regular riders we can get on board the train, especially the #NightTrain, the better! Because if the #NightTrain fails, it’s going to be so much harder to get service expanded…period.

Another way you can get involved is by attending meetings. On January 9, 2015, the Central Florida Commuter Rail Commission – which oversees SunRail – will be meeting, and among the topics to be discussed are the #NightTrain, and the Ultimate I-4 project, the latter by which I will talk about in a moment. If you can attend this meeting, then please…do so! Every additional SunRail supporter that comes out to this meeting will make a huge difference in the path that the commission will take from that point onward. We have to show our elected officials that SunRail is a HUGE DEAL. I cannot stress this enough. If you want to attend the upcoming commission meeting, please take note of the information below:

Central Florida Commuter Rail Commission January Meeting

MetroPlan Orlando Office (Board Room)
315 East Robinson Street, Suite 355
Orlando, Florida 32801

Meeting runs from 10:00am until 12-noon

Information regarding special accommodations can be found through the MetroPlan Orlando website. Just select the meeting event on January 9 and a box will appear with the information needed.

Thank you to the wonderful folks at the SunRail Riders group for providing me with the venue information! This allowed me to obtain the time of the meeting from the MetroPlan Orlando website.

How SunRail impacts Tampa Bay’s transit situation.

Now, you might ask, what does SunRail have to do with transit in Tampa Bay? Well, SunRail has A LOT to do with transit in Tampa Bay. Because here in Tampa Bay, we too have been fighting to get better transit for years. And here in Tampa Bay, we have to deal with the anti-tax group No Tax For Tracks. NTFT was formed in 2010 and is run by Tea Party insiders who clearly do not want our transit systems to be expanded and improved. Instead, they want to see transit systems CUT, SLASHED, and eventually PRIVATIZED. In other words, they want the private sector to handle our bus and rail services and want NO PUBLIC DOLLARS to ever be used for transit again. NTFT will stop at nothing to make sure that West Central Florida has at least as many toll roads as the Orlando metro area has. And, NTFT’s leader even supports the building of a sprawling tolled beltway in eastern Hillsborough County that will only cause more sprawl, and that’s something that the Tampa Bay area does not need.

Now where does SunRail fit into this equation? Well, SunRail is often used as one of many targets by NTFT when it comes to “wasteful spending”, as they see it. If for instance, the #NightTrain isn’t successful, NTFT will no doubt have more reasons to argue that SunRail is nothing more than a boondoggle that has wasted taxpayer dollars and must be shut down immediately. Now do we really want these Tea Party insiders to keep whining like this? The answer is…NO, WE DON’T. We need to show these out-of-touch insiders that transit really can be a success story. And this is our chance to do just that by riding the #NightTrain and showing your support for SunRail at the upcoming Commuter Rail Commission meeting. If we can ensure that SunRail is a successful service, then that will send a message to Tampa Bay that a commuter rail line can thrive over there as well!

So here’s the bottom line on this matter, and something to keep in mind while going through your New Year’s plans. What happens in the Orlando area will have a substantial impact on other metro areas throughout Florida, including Tampa Bay and Miami. Miami’s Tri-Rail, which is considered to be SunRail’s big brother, has plans of its own for eventual expansion. If SunRail is a success, you can expect that service on TriRail will grow as well. And, as I mentioned, it could also pave the way for commuter rail lines in Tampa Bay, and even in Jacksonville. I believe Jacksonville also has passenger rail plans on the table.

The Ultimate I-4 Project…why pay more?

Okay, so I mentioned the Ultimate I-4 project a bit ago, so let me go into more detail. For those who aren’t aware, the Ultimate I-4 project is a radical reconstruction project that will revamp interchanges and add lanes to the busy and congested thoroughfare. A key reason why SunRail was built, is to provide an alternative to the congestion on I-4. The Ultimate I-4 project will begin this upcoming January February. Yes, that’s right, January February , 2015, we are only weeks away from groundbreaking. And…the project is expected to continue through 2021. That’s about six years of construction, which equates to six years of traffic headaches.

Even when the project is finished, will the congestion really end there? No, it won’t. And on top of that, the project introduces Tolled Express Lanes, which has really been gaining steam throughout the entire state, and the nation for that matter. My question to all those who support Tolled Express Lanes is this…do you really want to pay $5, $6, $7, $8, even $9 or $10, or even more…one-way…just to escape the morning gridlock? Think about it…the costs of maintaining your car, plus gas, plus tolls and parking.

Now even though the price of gas has gone down, your maintenance costs, as well as the overall costs of tolls, will likely not go down. And…it only takes one economic hiccup for gas prices to skyrocket again. Is that what you want to deal with for your daily commute? Why spend money each month on car maintenance, gas, tolls, and parking, when you can easily purchase a SunCard? A SunCard with a monthly travel plan costs far less than all of those expenses combined in a month’s time. You can also add funds to your SunCard just like you would a store gift card or a PrePaid Debit card.

For those of you who can easily take advantage of one of SunRail’s park-n-ride lots, that means less gas consumption, which in-turn means less money used on gas, and eventually vehicle maintenance. It also means money saved on tolls and parking, because SunRail’s park-n-ride lots are free of charge! Think about it? Calculate how much you spend monthly on gas, car maintenance, parking, and tolls. Then compare those costs to how much you would pay if you purchased a SunCard with a monthly travel plan. I think you will quickly see how much money you’ll save by using SunRail.

Kudos to the SunRail Riders!

With all of this said, I want to give a HUGE thank you to the SunRail Riders group. They have been leading the charge in advocating more service on the line, including the #NightTrain test. In fact, the SunRail Riders are the ones that organized the petition by which over 3,400 people signed. Without them, I really don’t know where SunRail would be right now. We all need to join the SunRail Riders in lending support for the train and making it clear that we need more service, including midday, late evening, and weekend services. We also need to make sure that we send a clear message to all those who want SunRail to fail, including the various Tea Party insiders. We need to keep telling them that SunRail will be a success story, not a huge flop like they want it to be. Expanding service on SunRail will do exactly that, and we need everyone to play their part in supporting SunRail, whether it is riding the rails, or at the very least…informing those you know to use the service, and attending meetings.

Conclusion

To close, it’s not just the SunRail Riders that are counting on your support for SunRail, I…HARTride 2012, am counting on your support too. Because together, we can all make a huge difference in the path that Metro Orlando takes when it comes to public transit.

Thank you, and have a safe and wonderful New Year!

HARTride 2012

2014 Blog/Site Stats

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 30,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Fast Facts:

  • Best Month in viewership: July, 2014 – 3,356 site views (with 2,088 new visitors to the site)
  • Most views in a single day: June 8, 2014 – 219 views
  • Most viewed webpage: HART Transit Routes – 7,360+ views
  • Most viewed blog post: Extended closure of Paris Metro station Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre – 940+ views
  • Viewership Milestones Reached: Surpassed 30,000 views

Click here to see the complete report.

2014 Public Transit Recap

2014 year-end

Looking back at a few of the biggest public transportation stories of 2014

2014 for the most part was pretty eventful for the Tampa Bay area when it came to public transportation. While there were many positives throughout the year, the biggest local story by far was…not so positive. In the next few moments, I will briefly go over what made the headlines in the transportation realm during 2014.

Tampa International Airport executes sweeping modernization and expansion plan

Another Roy Butler art piece on level 2 of the main terminal. Notice the red paneled walls in the background? That's one of the elevator banks. The entire main terminal complex has seen significant updates since the late 1990s. Now the complex is undergoing its most massive renovation and expansion project to date. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.
Tampa International Airport will be undergoing a massive renovation project over the next two to three years. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

With original aspirations to build a second terminal complex on the backburner due to the recent economic downturn and consolidation of the airline industry, leaders at Tampa International Airport’s governing body – the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority – had to re-think its path for the future. What eventually came out after many months of discussion and planning was a sweeping modernization of the existing 1971-era terminal. This plan was divided into three phases, with the first one (called Decongestion) breaking ground in November. The plan will move all rental car operations to a unified facility at the southern end of the airport’s campus, connected by a modern automated people mover. Other many improvements will also be completed, including a new layout for Level 3 of the main terminal, as well as the groundwork for a replacement Airside D.

Further information can be found at the TPA Airport website.

Study results for a possible streetcar expansion and modernization in Tampa

Just days after Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik announced his plans to shake up the southeastern section of downtown Tampa, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit unveiled the results of a study that would evaluate the next phase of expansion for the ailing TECOline Streetcar. The study examined several possible corridors from the current terminus at Whiting St by the Fort Brooke Garage to the Marion Transit Center in northern downtown, including Marion St, Florida Ave, Tampa St, Ashley Dr, and Franklin St. Depending on which alignment is eventually chosen, along with other factors, the project could cost up to $60 million. The study also recommends the line be upgraded with modern railcars, something that I have been voicing support for during the past several months.

See the results of the study.

Greenlight Pinellas fails at the polls, along with two other transportation initiatives

The biggest story here in Tampa Bay by far for 2014 was the crippling defeat of not one, not two, but three transportation-related sales tax initiatives during the November, 2014 election. Here in Tampa Bay, the biggest of the three measures was the Greenlight Pinellas initiative that aimed at doubling Pinellas County’s bus system and eventually bring forth a starter light rail line to the central section of the county. The second initiative was in Polk County, where the My Ride/My Roads plan aimed at improving area roadways and expand and further unify the county’s bus system. Then, up in Alachua County, the Moving Alachua County Forward measure hoped to bring in more funding to improve roadways within the county. All three initiatives failed by over 50%, sending shockwaves to supporters that voters simply were not ready for, or willing to deal with added taxes while the nation’s economy was still on shaky ground riddled with budget cuts, pay cuts, layoffs, and other negative aspects. Meanwhile, Tea Party insiders like Sharon Calvert chanted victory towards all three ballot defeats in hopes that voters will eventually sway municipal governments to contract out bus services to the private sector.

View blog posts relating to Greenlight Pinellas.

SunRail Commuter Rail opens, gains late evening service

This past May, Orlando’s commuter rail line, SunRail, opened to customers after enduring quite a planning and construction process that involved dueling it out with CSX Transportation over their then-planned freight hub in Winter Haven. The line’s opening signaled a new era in public transit throughout the Orlando Metro region, as Orlando International Airport gears up for its own radical expansion plans, and as the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) prepares Interstate 4 for a massive reconstruction project that is slated to begin in 2015 and run through about 2021 – yes…that’s roughly six years folks! The line also brings forth hopes that Tampa Bay one day could have a commuter rail line of its own. During the fare-free period in May, I had a chance to ride SunRail from Sand Lake Road to downtown Orlando and back, and I truly enjoyed the journey! Expect to see the rest of my SunRail series in early 2015.

In December, FDOT announced that a trial late-evening run would start on December 22 after a petition was sent in calling for more service. So far, a few days have proved to be very encouraging, and I really hope this will send a message to state leaders that SunRail needs to be expanded, and soon! Refusing such a service expansion will not only negatively impact Orlando and surrounding communities, but it will also send a message to Tea Party insiders here in Tampa Bay that our area does not need expanded public transit. And, it will only add onto the underlying agenda of these insiders to contract out bus services to the private sector.

Read Part 1 of my SunRail experience.

Hampton Roads, VA area tries to move ahead with their transit vision

Meanwhile, in the Norfolk, VA area, Hampton Roads Transit has been steadily moving ahead with plans to extend its starter light rail line. To the east, towards Virginia Beach, and to the north towards Naval Station Norfolk. Both extensions are currently in the study phase, though the Virginia Beach extension is further along. During the course of 2013 and 2014, several elements have complicated the Virginia Beach extension study, including a late-minute agreement between municipal and state leaders to fund a short extension to Town Center, which would be shorter than any of the three extension alignments already planned out. If all goes well from here on out, the new segment could be open by 2018.

Read more about what has transpired with the planned light rail extension to Virginia Beach.

New York City’s subway system rebuilds from Sandy

SuperStorm Sandy heavily damaged parts of New York City’s subway system in October of 2012 and threatened to bring the entire city to its knees. However, the strength and resilience of New York City and its citizens have triumphed over the tragedy. Since the disaster, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority launched the Fix and Fortify project to rebuild key elements of the subway system that were damaged during the storm. Such completed work includes the rebuilding of the Montague and Greenpoint tunnels, and restoration of the old South Ferry station – until the newer complex can be rebuilt. Earlier this month, the MTA awarded a $194 million dollar contract to rebuild the newer South Ferry station, which is expected to take approximately two years to complete. When finished, the newer station will be equipped with flood prevention measures such as retractable flood doors at station entrances.

Go to MTA.info and scroll down on the right to the Fix and Fortify section for project updates.

Paris’ “Grand” rail plan materializes

In Paris, France, plans for a massive subway system expansion is moving ahead. Officially called the Grand Paris Express, four new subway lines will be constructed, one existing subway line will be extended in two directions almost simultaneously, and a second existing line will be extended and modernized. The new subway lines will be numbered 15 through 18, while Lines 11 and 14 will be extended (the 11 will also be modernized and converted to fully automated operation). In addition, Lines 4, 6, 11, and 14 will all receive brand new, next-generation rolling stock during the construction of the Grand Paris Express. This project will breathe new life into the Parisian public transit system, as well as reach areas that are currently inaccessible by passenger rail lines. If all goes according to plan, the entire “Grand” plan could be completed by 2040.

Read a summary of the Grand Paris Express project.

HRT December 2014 Roundup – Includes January, 2015 Service Changes

There have been lots of happenings recently with Hampton Roads Transit! Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.
There have been lots of happenings recently with Hampton Roads Transit! Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

Let’s talk transit in Hampton Roads, VA. In addition to some bus service changes that have rolled out in the past month – and still to come, officials at Hampton Roads Transit have been talking about other issues affecting the area’s transit system. In this roundup post, I’m going to be discussing some of these happenings. Let’s take a look!

Connect Hampton Roads Survey

If you reside in the Hampton Roads area, chances are, you’ve at least heard about the Connect Hampton Roads plan, and perhaps have even taken the survey. If you haven’t heard about Connect Hampton Roads yet, then let me tell you briefly about it. The Connect Hampton Roads plan is aimed at asking the public for input as to what they need as far as better public transportation, as well as get the public more engaged in talking about public transportation in their area. These needs range from enhanced local and express bus service, to expanded passenger rail, to a network of Park-N-Ride lots, and more! With arterial highways becoming more congested, the need for better transit could not be more clear.

In late November/early December, the results of the Connect Hampton Roads survey were compiled, and HRT intends to use the results to present a comprehensive transit development plan to bring forth better transit service. Some other suggestions from respondents include more bus shelters, real-time transit information, and cleaner and safer buses.

NEWS LINK – Read more about what people are saying.

Emergency Snow Routes

Following a devastating transit shutdown due to several snow storms during early 2014, HRT has approved plans for 11 emergency bus routes that would be activated if sustained snowfall exceeds 6 inches. Corridors will receive priority snow plowing to allow buses to traverse when needed, thus allowing customers to return home without fearing that they’ll be suddenly stranded by heavy snowfall.

Routes will be distinguished by color and stops designated with a snowflake sign in that route’s color. Service will operate 6:00am until 8:00pm Monday through Saturday if activated. Sunday service will not be provided, and paratransit services would also not run, since regular bus service would be suspended during such emergencies. It is currently unclear if light rail service would be able to operate during emergencies.

Route maps are currently being formulated and should be available towards the end of 2014.

Adopt-A-Stop

Faced with a continuing budget crunch, HRT has found itself in a messy situation…literally. You may have seen the photos from local bloggers of trash cans overflowing at bus stops, as well as vandalized shelters. It’s something that no transit agency wants to have to endure with. However, with limited funding, HRT can no longer maintain upkeep of its many high volume bus stops. Instead of sitting around and letting the problem fester, HRT has decided to ask the community for help.

Similar to many Adopt-A-Highway or Adopt-A-Road programs in many states, HRT’s Adopt-A-Stop program allows members of the community, including businesses and non-profit organizations, to help keep bus stops clean. The program is free of charge, but sponsors are asked to sponsor a stop for at least one year. The sponsor would pick up trash at their chosen stop and report any issues, like broken shelter Plexiglas and graffiti to the agency. Each sponsored stop will get its own Adopt-A-Stop designation sign with the name of the sponsoring individual or entity.

Anyone interested in sponsoring an HRT bus stop will need to turn in an application to the agency to be considered. Further information is available on the HRT website.

Tidewater Community College to return to GoPass 365

After pulling out of the unlimited ride pass program last year, Tidewater Community College (TCC) has come to an agreement with HRT to participate in the revised program. Changes to the GoPass 365 program were made during the course of 2013 because the previous program resulted in a massive loss in revenue for HRT, despite high ridership.

NEWS LINK – Learn more about how the agreement was made and what TCC students can expect.

January, 2015 Service Changes

For its January, 2015 markup, HRT is implementing schedule/timetable changes to Routes 4, 41, 45, 118, and 918. Additionally, there will be a routing change to Route 41 by which it will serve the Victory Crossing Transfer Center from the south instead of from the north. The current segment via Victory Blvd will be eliminated in favor of a more direct route along Greenwood Dr and McLean St. A map of this change is depicted below.

Changes being made to HRT Route 41. Credit: Hampton Roads Transit (HRT).
Changes being made to HRT Route 41. Credit: Hampton Roads Transit (HRT).

Other Route Changes

  • Route 45: Evening trips from the Downtown Norfolk Transfer Center (the 7:20 pm, 7:50 pm, 8:20 pm & 9:20 pm trips) will depart earlier to improve on time performance and transfer connections at the transfer point at County and Court.
  • Route 918: One AM and one PM trip will be added. The AM trip will depart Silverleaf Park & Ride lot at 7:00 am.  The PM trip will depart Lafayette River Annex at 3:30 pm.

New timetables will become available closer to the time that these changes take effect.

Christmas and New Year’s Holiday Transit Schedules

Updated on 12/30/14: HART bus routes 7, 32, 36, and 45 will be on detour on New Year’s Day due to the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Customers making transfers in West Tampa will need to do so at the temporary transfer point along MacDill Ave by the St. Joseph’s Womens Hospital. ALSO, HART will run a Sunday schedule that day.

Updated on 12/23/14: SunRail will operate limited services on New Year’s Day. The Holiday Schedule Table has also been updated.

Tis the Season to be Jolly! Yes, it’s almost time for the Christmas holiday week and time to ring in the New Year of 2015! Today’s post will provide a rundown on which transit districts will be operating on Christmas and on New Year’s. Please be mindful that many transit services will operate on a limited schedule on Christmas Day and on New Year’s Day, with some transit districts operating a limited schedule on Christmas Eve.

Please be mindful that with many New Year’s Eve celebrations taking place, that many transit routes and services will experience some delays. This will especially be the case in areas where city-organized celebrations will take place. Please be aware of route detours ahead of time, and an increased number of riders along certain routes.

Just like my Thanksgiving post, 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.

Christmas & New Year’s Transit Schedules

  • 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) – See New Year’s Day Schedule
    • StarMetro (Tallahassee)
    • HRT (Hampton/Norfolk, VA)

Customer Service Hours

Hours of operation for customer service centers vary by district. If your district does not operate service on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and/or New Year’s Day, their customer service centers will also be closed on those days. Please contact your district directly to see what hours their customer service department will operate.

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

  • HART (Tampa) – 813-254-4278
    • Christmas Eve (12/24/14): Customer Service centers will be staffed from 7:00am until 5:00pm. InfoLine will be staffed from 8:00am until 5:00pm. HART AT CITY HALL WILL BE CLOSED.
    • Christmas Day (12/25/14): Customer Service centers will be CLOSED. InfoLine will be staffed from 8:00am until 5:00pm. HART AT CITY HALL WILL BE CLOSED.
    • New Year’s Eve (12/31/14): Customer Service centers will be staffed during normal hours, 6:00am until 5:00pm. InfoLine will be staffed during normal hours, 6:00am until 8:00pm.
    • New Year’s Day (1/1/15): Customer Service centers will be CLOSED. InfoLine will be staffed from 8:00am until 5:00pm. HART AT CITY HALL WILL BE CLOSED.
  • PSTA (St. Pete/Clearwater) – 727-540-1900
    • Customer Service Centers and InfoLine will be CLOSED on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Normal hours on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
  • LYNX (Orlando) – 407-841-5969
    • Christmas Eve (12/24/14): Customer Service Center at the Central Station will be staffed from 6:00am until 2:30pm, and the InfoLine will be staffed from 8:00am until 3:00pm.
    • Christmas Day (12/25/14): Customer Service center and InfoLine will be CLOSED.
    • New Year’s Eve (12/31/14): Customer Service Center at the Central Station will be staffed from 6:00am until 2:30pm, and the InfoLine will be staffed from 8:00am until 3:00pm.
    • New Year’s Day (1/1/15): Customer Service center and InfoLine will be CLOSED.
  • HRT (Norfolk/Hampton) – 757-222-6100
    • Christmas Eve (12/24/14): Customer Service centers and InfoLine will be staffed from 5:00am until 4:00pm.
    • Christmas Day (12/25/14): Customer Service centers and InfoLine will be CLOSED.
    • New Year’s Eve (12/31/14): Customer Service centers and InfoLine will be staffed during normal hours, 5:00am until 7:00pm.
    • New Year’s Day (1/1/15): Customer Service centers and InfoLine will be staffed from 9:00am until 4:00pm.

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)
    • The Tide LRT Corridor
    • Hampton Transfer Center
    • Newport News Transfer Center
    • High St Ferry Station
    • HRT Facility on 18th St in Norfolk
  • LYNX (Orlando)
    • Central Station in downtown Orlando
  • 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.

Tampa International Airport rolls out redesigned website (beta mode)

If you haven’t noticed in recent weeks, Tampa International Airport has unveiled a beta version of its newly redesigned website!

TPA Airport New Website 1
Snapshot of the new TPA AIrport website, currently in beta mode. Snapshot taken by HARTride 2012 on 12/15/14.

The new website features a modern, yet streamlined designed that enables passengers to get the information they need…fast! On the upper, right-hand corner, the “Flight Status” area is visible immediately, allowing passengers to check the status of their flight within seconds. You can also easily access terminal maps, parking and ground transportation information, and airport amenities! Additionally, there are comprehensive Travel Guides available to make your journey to and from TPA Airport much easier, regardless if you’re on a flight, picking up or dropping off someone, or needing information on Accessibility Services and international flights.

I personally invite you to check out the new airport site and see for yourself as to just how convenient it really is! Then, compare the new site to the current/old site and see what differences there are. And if you happen to run into any problems, you can easily fill out the online form in the “Contact Us” section at the bottom of the web page (in the blue section containing “Popular” links). This will send an email inquiry to the airport authority staff.

Meanwhile, be sure to keep your eyes on my Tampa International Airport Information section, which will be periodically updated with information regarding the airport’s ongoing modernization and expansion project.

Transit Ridership Summary updated with October, 2014 figures

The Transit Ridership Summary table has been updated with October, 2014 figures! If you’re new to my site, this 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 original 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 – October Transit Ridership Summary

HART and PSTA shatter ridership records for October! HRT does pretty good as well!

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.

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, and the full stats can be found in HART’s board meeting packet for December.

HART wasn’t alone in the good news of October, PSTA also shattered its all-time monthly record with 1,349,649 customers using its bus and paratransit services! That’s a 5.5% increase over October, 2013, and a 4.5% increase over October, 2012, when the agency set its previous all-time record!

HRT in Hampton/Norfolk, VA did better this October, with 1,561,165 customers using the system, compared to October, 2013. Although a 2.1% increase over October, 2013, the 2014 figures fell short of its records from October, 2012 by 3.7%, when 1,621,289 customers used the system. Nonetheless, HRT’s ridership continues to be very strong!

So in comparison, here’s all three agencies side by side.

HRT (Hampton/Norfolk): 1,561,165

HART (Tampa): 1,438,947

PSTA (St. Pete/Clearwater): 1,349,649

PSTA Conducting Research to Improve Regional Fare Collection and Efficiency

In preparation for the roll out of a regional fare collection system, PSTA is wanting to gather some data as to what customers would prefer for fare payment and passes. This will ensure that when the new system does roll out, that we’re using fare collection methods that people want.

Please take a moment to fill out PSTA’s survey. Your opinion means a lot for the entire Tampa Bay region, not just Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. Remember, multiple counties are taking part in this regional effort.

Ride PSTA

Who: Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA)

What: Asking riders for feedback to help improve bus fare technology

When: December 1 – December 7, 2014

Where: Throughout Pinellas County

Why:  To help determine the best way to streamline PSTA’s fare collection systems and policies

How: Through an online survey available on PSTA’s website and social media

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is surveying riders this week to learn more about their preferred method of fare payment and pass types when riding. PSTA is working with HART and other transit agencies throughout the Tampa Bay area to implement a new regional transit payment system to allow seamless travel between counties and more efficient bus service. The survey will provide background data to ensure that the options offered in the new system meets rider demand and preferences.

PSTA officials say that the technologies being considered are a “ticket app” and a durable…

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HART makes a commitment to being more transparent

These days, it’s important for businesses and government agencies to have a strong bond with the public. After the recent economic downturn, transparency has become a key word when it comes to an entity keeping public trust high. Well here in Tampa, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit has made a commitment to bringing forth more transparency in order to show the public that they are using its limited resources wisely. This move, though I’m sure was done primarily to its own benefit, comes after neighboring Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority was heavily criticized for not being transparent enough in their day-to-day course of business.

When visiting the HART website, http://www.gohart.org, you will now see a “Transparency” link on the left. This link will bring your to a page that clearly states HART’s mission to bring forth more transparency, and provides links to various reports and figures. Under Florida’s Sunshine Law, government agencies are required to publicly provide certain information about how they’re doing, and the public can make public record requests as per the Sunshine Law. In this move, HART has taken extra steps by posting additional financial, contractual, and environmental documentation, as well as re-affirming its commitment to maintaining ethical behavior. A few years ago, HART began doing business with EthicsPoint to provide a direct line to reporting activities that may be seen as unethical and/or illegal.

Additionally, through the “Transparency” portal, the public can easily make public record requests, something that PSTA has also made easier in recent months.

HART December, 2014 Service Changes

Fall 2014 HART Markup 2

Updated on 12/4/14: Route 21LX schedule is now available.

It’s that time again, service changes…

This fall, HART arrived a bit later than normal due to…from my understanding…a bus operator shortage that had to be filled ASAP. Because of this, some major changes, such as the Route 51X revisions, will not occur until March, 2014 or later.

Instead, HART will focus a majority of the changes to tweaking route segments to run more efficiently, including Routes 10, 25LX, and 31. The latter will begin serving the recently opened Amazon Distribution Center.

Another big change will be the replacement of Route 6 Limited by Route 21LX. The number 21 was previously used for an express route between Town-N-Country and downtown Tampa. Though the new service will basically be a carbon copy of its current self, there will be a caveat…AM trips will utilize the I-4/Selmon Connector. I knew it would only be a matter of time before HART used the connector for at least one regular bus route. 🙂

DETAIL OF SERVICE CHANGES

EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 7, 2014

  • HART flyer outlining the following changes.
  • Significant Routing and/or Scheduling Changes:
    • Route 6 Limited >> Route 21LX: Route 6 Limited (LTD) will be replaced with Route 21LX, mirroring the current route, but with AM trips using the I-4/Selmon Connector to maintain timeliness. We all know how badly backed up Malfunction Junction gets, especially in the morning. View map of how Route 21LX will operate in the morning (created by HARTride 2012). View schedule.
    • Route 10: Laurel St segment eliminated east of O’Brien St. Buses will use O’Brien St to complete the Cypress/SSA loop and return to Cypress St.
    • Route 15: Timepoint “F” will be repositioned to Columbus Dr @ DACCO. Currently, this timepoint reads 7th Ave @ 50th St.
    • Route 25LX: All PM trips will serve the Culbreath Park-N-Ride Lot via Springvale Dr.
    • Route 31 & HART Flex South County: Re-alligned to serve the Amazon Distribution Facility.
    • Route 37Midday frequency (9am to 2pm) restored to 30-minute headways. Midday frequency was previously reduced to 60-minute headways due to budget cuts.
  • Minor Timetable Changes (to improve efficiency, especially with interlining routes):

All questions and concerns should be directed to HART.

Disclaimer: Although it may appear that I have used the official HART logo in my graphic above, I simply used Arial font, size 72, for the acronym for the agency that I am describing.