The stage is nearly set for Williams Park

The bus shelters around Williams Park have been removed, and boy does it create a different atmosphere already! From this point onward, you’ll begin to see a transformation of the park from a bus terminal, to a vibrant public commons. Please scroll through the gallery below to see what has changed around the park, in respect to the transfer hub.

Some things to keep in mind

Any questions or concerns regarding the upcoming changes should be directed to PSTA. Please do not post comments to my blog or social media channels if you have questions about the service changes. I do not work for PSTA, nor do I have the most current information about the changes.

You may contact PSTA by calling (727) 540-1900, by visiting PSTA.net, by visiting one of four customer service centers located throughout the county, or by asking one of the on-site staff members at Williams Park during the period of January 31 through February 17. These ambassadors are easily identifiable via their yellow vests, and they are passing out hard copies of the service change brochure.

Changes to my transit photography

Beginning today, my transit photography in the Downtown St. Pete area will be very limited, due mainly to the upcoming changes. After February 20, 2016, I will no longer be taking photos of PSTA buses in the Downtown St. Pete area, unless one is staged for a special event. I am doing this for the safety of the PSTA employees and customers.

PSTA Downtown St. Petersburg Grid System Implementation – 2/14/16

PSTA February 2016 Service Changes Banner 2

Update – 2/14/16

The changes described in the original blog post below are now in effect. Please consult individual route schedules for new times and timepoints, and keep in mind which stop to get off at if you are transferring to another route.

As of 8:45am this morning; PSTA has updated Real Time to reflect the new grid pattern.

Any questions or concerns regarding the upcoming changes should be directed to PSTA. Contact information is listed at the bottom of the original post.


Original Post – 1/29/16

As I mentioned in my blog post yesterday, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) is preparing to discontinue Williams Park in Downtown St. Petersburg as a transit hub. This change will allow the City of St. Petersburg to beautify the park so that it will be able to become the urban commons that it was designed to be. The changes will also allow PSTA to create a grid system throughout the downtown area where customers can transfer between routes via street-side bus stops. While there will be many challenges ahead for PSTA as they implement these changes, the agency is hoping for a smooth transition for everyone.

During the weekend of January 30/31, 2016, the bus shelters around Williams Park will be were completely removed, although each of the existing routes will continue to operate as they do now. PSTA staff will be at the park during the next few weeks (beginning January 31 through February 17) to educate customers on where they can catch their bus once the grid system is implemented. Staff members can be identified via the yellow vests that they will be wearing. The service changes will take effect on Sunday, February 14, 2016 (Valentines Day) and will affect Routes 4, 5, 7, 14, 15, 18, 20, 23, 32, 38, 52, 59, 74, 79, 97, and the Central Ave Trolley.

To illustrate how each of the affected routes will operate once the grid system is implemented, including the locations of bus stops, PSTA has uploaded a copy of its service change brochure on PSTA.net. I’m sure that hard copies will also be have been distributed throughout the system as well, and are available at all customer service centers. At some point in the beginning of As of February 10th, new route schedules will be have been distributed throughout the system and uploaded to PSTA.net. Please be sure to check in with PSTA for further updates on the upcoming changes. As soon as additional information becomes available, I will post them to my blog and across my Social Media channels.

#12105 on layover.
#12105 on layover.

Any questions or concerns regarding the upcoming changes should be directed to PSTA. Please do not post comments to my blog or social media channels if you have questions about the service changes. I do not work for PSTA, nor do I have the most current information about the changes.

You may contact PSTA by calling (727) 540-1900, by visiting PSTA.net, by visiting one of four customer service centers located throughout the county, or by asking one of the on-site staff members at Williams Park during the period of January 31 through February 17.

Gasparilla 2016

Side angle of #1506.
Beat the parking and traffic hassles this Gasparilla parade by using HART!

Pirates, and Beads, and Transit…oh my!

Yep, it’s that time again, for the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival! The Parade of the Pirates brings in hundreds of revelers each year, and along with that…tons and tons of roadway closures. So here’s what you need to know if you plan on attending the parade on Saturday, January 30, starting at 2:00pm.

Roadway Closures and Parking Info

On Friday, January 29, the day before the parade (that is TODAY as of the publishing of this post), many area roadways will begin to shut down. A complete list of closures has been provided through local media outlets (for this post, I’ve used the ABC Action News article) and I strongly suggest that you go through this list so that you’re not caught in unnecessary traffic congestion. Because of the parade route and disbursement of the floats at the end of the parade, the Platt, Brorein, and Kennedy bridges will all be closed. That means your only points of egress into downtown Tampa will be the Cass St bridge, the Selmon Expressway, and I-275. If you don’t need to be in downtown Tampa, please do not enter the area! I cannot stress this enough.

For those traveling to Davis Island and Tampa General Hospital, access will be maintained to the island, but the on/off-ramps to/from Bayshore will all be closed. Please be sure to plan ahead for this, as shuttle service may not be available during the parade.

If you plan to park in one of the parking garages in either Downtown Tampa, Channelside, Hyde Park, or Ybor City, please make sure you remember where you parked. Also, keep in mind that many streets will be closed throughout the area. Please also be sure to bring cash, because some lots may only accept cash as payment. Additionally, please be aware that the City of Tampa prohibits parking on some streets.

Escape the parking and traffic hassles, use transit!

Select HART bus routes and the TECOline Streetcar Line will operate on a modified schedule on Saturday, and some bus routes will be detoured due to road closures. I’ll go through a brief rundown of what to expect if you’re using transit to get to and from the parade. For detailed information – including routes that serve the Downtown Tampa area – please visit the HART website, as information can change between now and the day of the parade.

Routes 7, 8, 14, 19, & 30 will be detoured! Please plan your trip accordingly! Below is a listing of how buses will be detoured, along with respective route maps. OneBusAway WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE FOR THE ROUTES AFFECTED, SO PLEASE REFER TO POSTED SCHEDULES FOR DEPARTURE TIMES!!!

  • Routes 7 & 14 WILL NOT SERVE CASS ST. Instead, both routes will travel along Palm Ave from N. Boulevard and then follow Tampa St/Scott St into downtown (outbound will use Marion St/Henderson Ave/Florida Ave to Palm Ave).
  • Route 8 will be detoured via Nuccio Pkwy & Cass St. The normal route through Channelside and southern Downtown WILL NOT BE SERVED.
  • Routes 19 & 30 will be detoured via Howard/Armenia and I-275. The Platt/Cleveland/Brorien/Davis Island segments of Route 19 & the Kennedy Blvd segment of Route 30 east of Armenia/Howard WILL NOT BE SERVED.
    • Please make alternate arrangements if you are needing to get to/from Tampa General Hospital, as shuttle service may not be available.
    • If you reside in the Town-N-Country area, you can park your car at the Northwest Transfer Center and use Route 30 to connect to the Gasparilla festivities!
  • The TECOline Streetcar will run a modified schedule from 9:00am through 1:30am Sunday morning, and will only serve selected stations during selected times of the day. However, the Dick Greco Plaza, Centro Ybor, and Centennial Park stations will be served all day. The Whiting station will be CLOSED all day. Please read carefully through HART’s blog post for a complete listing of stations that will be closed throughout the day.
  • Feeder bus shuttles will pick up passengers at the Tampa Port Authority Garage, Dick Greco Plaza, Cumberland Ave, Cadrecha Plaza, and Streetcar Society stations to help get customers between various parking venues and the parade route. Service will commence at 9:30am and run through 7:00pm.
  • The In-Towner will offer trolley service from Dick Greco Plaza to the Marion Transit Center to allow for speedy travel between northern Downtown and the parade route. Service will commence at 9:00am and run roughly every 15 to 20 minutes through 6:00pm.

And remember, please party responsibly. Don’t drink and drive, and don’t text and drive.

Williams Park Bus Shelter Dismantling

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If you’ve been by Williams Park in Downtown St. Petersburg during the past week, you may have noticed something different.

That’s right, the various bus shelters that currently surround the park are slowly coming down as part of an effort by the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) to discontinue using the park as a transfer hub. The park has been used as the city’s bus terminal since the 1950s, when PSTA’s predecessor agency, the St. Petersburg Municipal Transit System, was rising in popularity. The goal is to have virtually all PSTA bus routes out of Williams Park by Valentines Day, though there will be one or two routes that will still serve the park.

Stay tuned for further updates…

HRT: Why do you hate me so?

This is one issue that can make or break a transit rider real quick. Imagine after many years of being a loyal transit rider, that you are suddenly faced with being banned from your transit agency’s facilities over an accusation that has yet to be justified? Well that is exactly what has happened to one transit rider in the Hampton Roads, VA region; he was banned in 2012 from entering Hampton Roads Transit (HRT)’s administrative offices in Norfolk and Hampton. HRT alleges wrongdoing against the rider, but the agency has never showed him any sort of proof that would justify the wrongdoing. Please take a few moments to read through his post and tell us what you think.

Ideas from the Bus Rider

So over the past week: I’ve been mulling over the attitude problem that Hampton Roads Transit has with me. Apparently, someone in the Ivory Towers (3400 Victoria Blvd and 509 E. 18th St) has something against me. Very much so that they got me Administratively Banned from the administration buildings, for reasons that Hampton Roads Transit vehemently refuses to show proof of. This was back in 2012.

Fast forward to 2016 and the Ribbon Cutting for the new Downtown Norfolk Transportation Center held Friday of last week. I arrive in time to get a decent seat, or at least that was the plan when I was suddenly confronted by “security” who reminded me of the Administrative Ban from the bus garages. However, HRT suddenly decided that the new Downtown Norfolk Transportation Center was suddenly included (even though it is city property, and the City of Norfolk has no quarrel with…

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Williamsburg Area Transit Authority: Thank You

I’m going to be very honest for a few moments and say that while there is a lot of good in public transit, there are also many elements that can make or break a rider. As a transit rider myself, I know how hard it is these days for transit agencies to make ends meet, especially with the recent recession and the possibility that we could hit another recession this year.

However, some transit agencies do the very best that they can with what limited resources that they have to make their customers and their employees happy. That is exactly what we see here with the Williamsburg Area Transit Authority in Williamsburg, VA. They truly go the extra mile for their riders, as you will see in the post from a Hampton Roads area transit rider and blogger. You will also see the stark contrast between WATA and neighboring Hampton Roads Transit, the latter by which some riders have expressed to me as being a transit agency by which its upper management simply does not care about its riders.

In short, if you have management who does not try hard enough to deliver an excellent customer experience, then that in of itself will make or break many riders. While there will be riders who will simply go about their day dealing with the mess that the transit agency leaves behind because of incompetent management, other riders will become so disgruntled that they will take the first opportunity to travel by other means; whether it be by car, taxi, ride share, biking, or walking.

Ideas from the Bus Rider

Yesterday I got a chance to get away from Hampton Roads Transit, since they seem to have something against me.  I decided to spend the $2 for an All Day Pass to ride Williamsburg Area Transit Authority, and it felt like a breath of fresh air.

Over the past week, I was horribly mistreated at the hands of administrative staff of Hampton Roads Transit, because they were mad that I wanted to attend the ribbon cutting for the new Downtown Norfolk Transportation Center – a city building in which the city invited me to attend the ceremony.  They seem to insist that I did something wrong at the Victoria Blvd admin building, but flat out REFUSE to present proof.  Naturally, I was torn apart on the inside and as I write this: I am quite angry with the Admin side of the agency (I have absolutely NO beef…

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MLK Day 2016 Holiday Transit Schedules

 

MLK 2016 Holiday Schedules Banner 1

Monday, January 18, 2015 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 or not operate at all.


Holiday Service Status

MLK 2016 Holiday Schedules Banner 3

MLK 2016 Holiday Schedules Banner 4

Additional Notes:

NYCMTA Website

NY/NJ PATH Website

Chicago CTA Website

PACE Website (Chicago area suburban bus services)

Metra Website (Chicago area Commuter Rail services)


Customer Service Hours

MLK 2016 Holiday Schedules Banner 5

MLK 2016 Holiday Schedules Banner 6

Additional Notes:

Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) are available throughout the following locations for customer convenience.

  • HART (Tampa, FL): All major transit centers (Marion, University, Northwest, West Tampa, NetPark, and Yukon St).
  • HRT (Norfolk/Hampton, VA): Along the Tide LRT corridor in Norfolk, as well as at HRT transit centers, and the High St Ferry station.

Disclaimer:

All information in this post have been compiled from the websites and social media channels of the respective transit agencies listed above. Ultimately, the agencies themselves are responsible for the accuracy of information that I’ve gathered. However, if you notice something that I’ve written that doesn’t match what the agency has posted (mistakes do happen, we’re all human), please let me know right away so that I can correct the information. Thank you.

Parking Crunch at Tampa International Airport

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As the unprecedented construction continues at Tampa International Airport, passengers – and those planning to pick up or drop off passengers – should be aware of capacity constraints at the Short-Term Parking Garage that will transpire over the course of the next month and a half.

What’s Happening?

Per the Tampa Bay Times, which pretty much sums up why there will be a parking crunch…

Two floors of the short-term parking garage will be closed beginning Thursday and will remain closed until mid February as construction workers waterproof the garage entry and exit ramps. Overnight parking will not be available in the short-term garage.

How will this affect me?

If you plan to park at the Short-Term Parking Garage, you may be in for a shocker if parking capacity is suddenly full. Airport officials recommend instead, using the Economy Garage and taking the free shuttle to the terminal. Parking rates come out to about $10.00 a day at the Economy Garage and shuttles run roughly every 10 minutes.

Long-Term Parking will also be affected by the limited capacity at the Short-Term Garage, as overnight parking will not be available at the Short-Term Garage during this period of time. Overnights are often when a majority of construction work is able to be performed, due in part to the lower number of people parking and minimal disruptions.

What if I’m picking up someone?

Since late 2015, the turnaround overpasses at the south end of the airport complex (noted in the map above) have been closed. Therefore, if you have to come back around to the terminal after exiting, you’ll have to take the exit ramp to the Post Office/Economy Parking in order to return to the complex. This can be extremely time consuming and will only add to the congestion that the complex already faces. Airport officials strongly recommend therefore, that you use the Cell Phone Waiting Lot located southeast of the Post Office, adjacent to the Economy Parking entrance. There is no cost to wait at the Cell Phone Waiting Lot and restrooms and free WiFi are provided. You can also view the dynamic message boards to see when flights are arriving. When the party that you’re picking up has indicated that they’re ready to be picked up, then you can proceed to the terminal with limited hassle. Remember that the arrival and departure drives are ONLY for active loading and unloading. Airport police is extremely strict about enforcing the rules to help keep traffic flowing smoothly.

If possible, use transit!

Escape the parking and traffic hassles by using HART!
Escape the parking and traffic hassles by using HART!

If you don’t have tons of heavy luggage to carry, I personally recommend that you use Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) Route 30 to access the airport. Service runs every 30 minutes from 4:30am through 12-midnight Monday through Friday, and from 6:30am through 12-midnight on weekends. Whether you reside in Town-N-Country, West Tampa, South Tampa, Downtown Tampa, North Tampa, or even East Tampa, you can connect to Route 30 easily and leave the driving to your bus operator! A one-way fare is only $2.00, with a day pass costing only $4.00 if you need to make multiple transfers. Please visit GoHART.org for details.

PSTA Route 74 Detour – 1/6/16 to TBD

Service Alert 1

PSTA Route 74 Detour

Beginning on Wednesday, January 6, 2016, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) Route 74 will be on a long-term detour in the Gateway area – due to construction activities along Gandy Blvd N (State Rd 694), between I-275 and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St N. Because of the uncertainty in the construction schedule, PSTA does not yet know when the Route 74 will return to normal routing in this area. However, customers (myself included since I board the bus in this vicinity) will find themselves having to walk farther to catch the bus than normal. I strongly advise that you allow extra time to get to and from the bus stop during the entire duration of the detour.

Why is this detour being implemented?

The reason for this detour is because the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is going to close the 16th St N intersection with Gandy Blvd N on Wednesday, January 6, 2016, in order to continue working on the Gandy Freeway project. This project has been in the works since the 1970s, but has only begun construction in the last two years due to a lack of funding. When completed, the project will allow for thru traffic on Gandy to bypass traffic signals between I-275 and 4th St N via an elevated highway. Overpasses will be located at the intersections of 4th St N/Roosevelt Blvd, Dr. MLK  Jr. St N, 94th Ave N, and 16th St N. Local traffic will still be able to access these roadways via a frontage road system.

Will my bus stop be affected?

If you board Route 74 buses from any of the stops along 94th Ave N, from Dr. MLK Jr. St N, to where 94th turns into the South Frontage Rd along Gandy Blvd N, by 16th St N; these stops will NOT BE SERVED DURING THE DURATION OF THE DETOUR!!! Buses will instead be traveling along Gandy Blvd N to Dr. MLK Jr. St N.

For further detail of the stops being affected by this detour, please see the map below:

This map shows where the South Frontage Road access will be closed, as well as Route 74 bus stops that will not be served.
This map shows where the South Frontage Road access will be closed, as well as Route 74 bus stops that will not be served. Click on the map for a larger view.

Where can I catch the bus from?

You will be able to board Route 74 buses from the stops along MLK Jr. St N at 94th Ave N. These stops also serve Route 59.

How can I obtain more information about this detour?

I strongly encourage you to contact PSTA directly with any questions or concerns regarding the detour. You can visit their website at PSTA.net, then select the Rider Alerts link at the bottom. Or, you can call the PSTA InfoLine at (727)-540-1900. If you have a Twitter account, please be sure to follow the latest route detours and other service alerts @PSTAalerts.