Use transit for FREE on Election Day!

Tomorrow, August 30, 2016 is Primary Election Day, and many transit agencies are pitching in to make sure that you can get to the polls!

In the Tampa Bay Area; HART, PSTA, SCAT, and PCPT are allowing respective county residents with a valid voter ID card to hop on board the bus for FREE. Restrictions do apply, so please be sure to contact your respective transit agency for details.

UPDATE: Tropical system develops into Tropical Depression 9

Weather Advisory 1

Things can change in the matter of just a few days, or even a few hours when it comes to the weather.

Late Sunday, “Invest 99L” developed into Tropical Depression 9 and is expected to become a Tropical Storm by late today or going into Tuesday. While the forecast track and the intensity of the storm remains uncertain, it is looking more clear that a trough will force the storm to turn northeastward towards central or north Florida.

Get the latest on the storm from FOX 13

Get your Emergency Plan together NOW

HART Emergency Service Procedures/Routes/Maps


#StormMode

As with any major weather event, I will be in #StormMode beginning Tuesday morning. This means that all scheduled blog posts will be suspended until the storm has passed and major effects are no longer being felt throughout the region. During this time, social media posts will be relegated to weather updates, school/road closures, transit detours/suspensions, and other important information. The Daily Transit News Roundup will still be published.

Both Hillsborough Area Regional Transit & the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority provide emergency bus services when evacuations are ordered. These special routes are designed to bring people who have no other place to go – to designated shelters. For further information regarding these services, please contact HART [(813)-254-4278 or by visiting gohart.org] or PSTA [(727)-540-1900 or by visiting psta.net].

Further updates will be made as information becomes available. In the meantime, please monitor local media outlets for the latest.


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Legalese | Disclosures

LYNX and HRT Service Changes – Effective 8/28/16

LYNX-HRT August 2016 Service Changes 1

Beginning Sunday, August 28, 2016, the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX) and Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) will enact various service changes throughout their respective systems. Please read carefully through the following changes. Further details – including route schedules – can be found on the transit agency’s website.


LYNX August 2016 Service Changes

HRT August 2016 Service Changes


 LYNX

FYI: LYNX refers to their bus routes as “links”

New Routes

  • Link 320  Avalon Park Schools Connector – New weekday service from Alafaya Trail/East Colonial Drive to East Colonial Drive/Chuluota Road and Avalon Park providing service to the Econ River High Charter School. Service began on August 15.

Routing Adjustments

  • Link 10 – East U.S. 192/St. Cloud (Osceola County) – Eastbound buses will operate on Orange Avenue instead of Grape Avenue between 10th Street and U.S. 192. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments.
  • Link 24  Millenia (Orange County) – Westbound buses on Oak Ridge Road will operate via International Drive, Altamira Drive, Adrianna Avenue and Oak Ridge Road to the Orlando Premium Outlets International Drive. Eastbound buses will now operate via Oak Ridge Road to Millenia Boulevard. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments.
  • Link 31 – LYMMO Orange-Downtown (Orange County) – While being the “original” LYMMO circulator line, the route’s numbering has been inconsistent with the three subsequent LYMMO routes that have 60-series route numbers. As a result, LYNX is re-designating this route as Link 60 (LYMMO Orange-Downtown).
  • Link 62 – LYMMO Grapefruit (Orange County) – Layover location will be moved to E. Church Street/S. Magnolia Avenue. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments.
  • Link 63  LYMMO North Quarter Line (Orange County) – The current bus stop on N. Orange Avenue/Concord Street will be moved north to N. Orange Avenue between Colonial Drive and Concord Street.
  • FastLink 407 – Kissimmee/Medical City/Orlando International Airport (Osceola County/Orange County) – The direction of travel will change for this route. Trips from the LYNX Kissimmee Intermodal Station will serve Orlando International Airport (OIA) before Medical City and then reverse on the trips from Medical City to the LYNX Kissimmee Intermodal Station. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments.

Trip Adjustments/Additions/Eliminations

  • Link 6  Dixie Belle Drive (Orange County) – The Weekday/Saturday 5:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. trips, as well as the Saturday trips from Dixie Belle Drive/Gatlin Avenue, the 4:55 a.m. weekday; and 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday trips from Colonial Plaza SuperStop will all be eliminated. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments.
  • Link 8 – W. Oak Ridge Road/International Drive (Orange County) – A trip at 6:05 a.m. on Weekdays and Saturdays will be added, as well as a 5:15 a.m. trip on Sundays – all from LYNX Central Station. A 4:14 p.m. Weekday, 5:15 p.m. Saturday, and 4:48 p.m. Sunday trips will be added from Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments.
  • Link 23  Winter Park/Springs Plaza (Orange County) – The Saturday 5:40 a.m. trip from Denning Drive/Webster Avenue and the 5:45 a.m. trip from Springs Plaza will be eliminated.
  • Link 37 – Pine Hills/Florida Mall (Orange County) – A 5:55 a.m. weekday trip, as well as 7 and 8 a.m. Sunday trips will be added from Silver Star Road and Hiawassee Road. 3:10 p.m., 4:10 p.m., and 5:10 p.m. trips will be added on Weekdays; and 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. trips will be added on Sundays – all from Florida Mall. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments.
  • Link 40  Americana Blvd./Universal Orlando (Orange County) – The 4 a.m. Saturday and 4:45 a.m. Sunday trips from LYNX Central Station will be eliminated.
  • Link 102  Orange Avenue/South 17-92 (Orange County) – The 4:45 a.m. weekday trip from LYNX Central Station will be eliminated, as well as the 10:28 p.m. Sunday trip from Fernwood Boulevard and Oxford Road. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments.
  • Link 106 – N. U.S. 441/Apopka (Orange County) – The 1 a.m. weekday trip from Apopka SuperStop will be eliminated. A 4:25 a.m. Weekday and a 4:50 a.m. Sunday trip from Apopka SuperStop will be added. A 9:45 p.m. Saturday and a 7:45 p.m. Sunday trip from LYNX Central Station will also be added. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments..
  • Link 107 – U.S. 441/Orlando Florida Mall (Orange County) – A 9:15 p.m. trip on Sunday from LYNX Central Station will be added. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments.
  • Link 313 – Winter Park (Orange County) – The 7:40 p.m. weekday, 6:39 a.m. and 7:33 p.m. Saturday trips from Florida Hospital will be eliminated, as well as the 6:45 a.m. Saturday trip from LYNX Central Station.
  • FastLink 418 – Florida Mall/Meadow Woods/Lake Nona (Orange County) – The 7:30 p.m. weekday and Saturday trip from the VA Hospital will be eliminated. There will also be minor scheduling adjustments.

Minor Scheduling Adjustments

The following routes will see minor scheduling changes – many of which include changes to timepoints and/or running times.

  • Link 3 – Lake Margaret Drive (Orange County)
  • Link 9 – Winter Park/Rosemont (Orange County)
  • Link 20  Malibu Street/Mercy Drive (Orange County)
  • Link 26  Pleasant Hill Road/Poinciana (Osceola County)
  • Link 28 – E. Colonial Drive/Azalea Park (Orange County)
  • Link 29 – E. Colonial Drive/Goldenrod Road (Orange County)
  • Link 44 – Hiawassee Road/Zellwood (Orange County)
  • Link 50 – Downtown Orlando/Magic Kingdom (Orange County)
  • Link 54 – Old Winter Garden Road (Orange County)
  • Link 108 – S. U.S. 441/Kissimmee (Orange County/Osceola County)
  • Link 434 – SR 434 Crosstown (Orange County/Seminole County)
  • Link 436N – SR 436 Crosstown (Orange County/Seminole County)
  • NeighborLink 652 – Maitland Center (Orange County)

HRT

New Routes

  • Route 55 – Greenbrier Circulator (Southside) – New Monday through Saturday service from Greenbrier Mall to Robert Hall Blvd via Crossways Blvd.
  • Route 968 – MAX (Express) – Silverleaf Park-N-Ride / DoD Suffolk – New express route will provide service between Silverleaf Park-N-Ride to the Joint Staff Compound in Suffolk. There will be two AM trips leaving Silverleaf (6:00, 6:30) and two PM trips leaving the Compound (3:40, 4:10).
  • Route 969 – MAX (Express) – Indian River Park-N-Ride / DoD Suffolk – New express route will provide service between Indian River/Greenbrier Park-N-Ride to the Joint Staff Compound in Suffolk. There will be two AM trips leaving Indian River(6:11, 6:30) and two PM leaving the Compound (3:40, 4:10).

Route Eliminations

  • Route 427 – Denbigh Midnight (Northside) – Route discontinued due to low ridership. Note, this was a lone commuter run that began its trip at about 12:00am, hence the route’s name.

Routing Adjustments

  • Route 14 – Robert Hall Blvd / TCC Chesapeake (Southside) – Route has been revised to service TCC Chesapeake in one direction only.
  • Route 111 – Thomas Nelson Community College / Riverside Regional (Northside) – Route modified to provide service between Patrick Henry Mall and Fishing Point via Canon Blvd.Hourly service to the Newport News/Williamsburg Airport, Mary Immaculate Hospital and Riverside Convalescent Center removed from the Route 111.  Hourly service to the airport will now be provided by Route 116. Hourly service to Mary Immaculate and Riverside Convalescent center will be provided by the Route 107.
  • Route 116 – Lee Hall / Patrick Henry Mall (Northside) – Route revised to provide service to Newport News/Williamsburg Airport. Service frequency will also change from 70 minutes to 60 minutes.
  • Route 119 – Fishing Point Dr/Riverside Regional Medical Center (Northside) – Service to the Canon facility will be discontinued. Route 111 will provide service to Canon Blvd.
  • Route 121 – Newport News Transportation Center / Williamsburg (Northside) – Boarding/Disembarking for for this route at NNTC will now be done on Washington Ave between 34th and 35th St. (In front of the clock tower)
  • Route 966 – MAX (Express) – Silverleaf Park-N-Ride / Newport News Transit Center – Boarding/Disembarking for this route at NNTC will now be done on Washington Ave between 34th and 35th St. (In front of the clock tower). Schedule has also been adjusted to start service from Silverleaf at 5:40 AM.

Trip Adjustments/Additions/Eliminations

  • Route 15 – Evelyn T. Butts Ave / Robert Hall Blvd (Southside) – Service to Greenbrier Mall, Monday – Friday limited only to after 7:30 PM; service to Greenbrier before 7:30 PM, will be provided by Route 55. Service to Robert Hall also increased to every 30 minutes.
  • Route 103 – Downtown Newport News / Downtown Hampton (Northside) – Weekdays and Saturdays, after 8:00 PM service frequency will be changed from every 45 minutes to hourly.  Sunday service will be hourly.
  • Route 104 – Downtown Newport News / Newmarket (Northside) – Weekdays and Saturdays, after 8:00 PM service frequency will be changed from every 30 minutes to hourly. Sunday service will be hourly.
  • Route 108 – Patrick Henry Mall / Lee Hall (Northside) – Service frequency will change from 70 minutes to 60 minutes.
  • Route 918 – MAX (Express) – Silverleaf Park-N-Ride to Lafayette River Annex/Gate 4 – Due to low ridership, service will be reduced to one AM trip (6:00) and one PM trip (4:15).
  • Route 961 – MAX (Express) – Norfolk to Hampton to Newport News – New 4:00 PM trip from NNTC to DNTC via Evelyn T Butts.

Minor Scheduling Adjustments

The following routes will see minor scheduling changes – many of which include changes to timepoints and/or running times.

  • Route 12 – South Norfolk / TCC-Virginia Beach (Southside)
  • Route 23 – Norfolk General / Military Circle / Janaf (Southside)
  • Route 109 – Downtown Hampton / Buckroe (Northside)
  • Route 112 – Downtown Newport News / Patrick Henry Mall (Northside)
  • Route 115 – Buckroe / Downtown Hampton (Northside)
  • Route 403 – Buckroe Shopping Center (Northside)
  • Route 414 – NNTC/Jefferson/Oakland (Northside)
  • Route 415 – NNTC/Denbigh (Northside)
  • Route 430 – Denbigh Fringe (Northside)

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Legalese | Disclosures

Labor Day 2016 Holiday Transit Schedule

Labor Day 2016 Banner 1

Monday, September 5, 2015 is Labor Day and many transit agencies will be running limited service, with some agencies not operating at all. As always, please see the listing below to see what level of service that each transit district will operate.


Service Schedule Status

July 4 Holiday Transit Schedules Banner 7 - FL-VA

Service Exceptions and Notes

Some trolleybus routes (Pinellas County) may operate on a schedule other than a Sunday schedule. Please check psta.net for details.

Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) bus routes will not operate, except for the Anna Maria and Beach Express Trolleys. Schedules can be obtained at www.ridemcat.org.

Votran Routes 1, 3, 4, 10, 15, & 17 will operate on a normal Sunday schedule. Routes 20, 21, & 23 will operate on a special Holiday schedule with 60 minute headways on Route 23, and two hour headways on Routes 20 & 21. All other routes – including Routes 31, 32, & 33 – will not operate. Schedules can be obtained at www.votran.org.

Labor Day will be the final day of 2016 service for Virginia Beach WAVE (HRT) Routes 31 & 32. Route 30 will operate on a reduced schedule (with buses departing roughly every 30 to 40 minutes) until September 30, 2016.

July 4 Holiday Transit Schedules Banner 8 - NY-IL

Service Exceptions and 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

July 4 Holiday Transit Schedules Banner 9 - Cust Serv 1

July 4 Holiday Transit Schedules Banner 9 - Cust Serv 2

Additional Notes

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

  • HART (Tampa, FL): All major transit centers.
  • HRT (Norfolk/Hampton, VA): Along the Tide LRT corridor in Norfolk, as well as at HRT transit centers, the High St Ferry station, and at select (summer) locations along the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.

Normal Transit Service Resumption

Regular weekday transit services will resume on Tuesday, September 6, 2016


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.


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Legalese | Disclosures

Weather Advisory – Tropical System to possibly strike Florida this upcoming week

Weather Advisory 1

UPDATE AS OF 5:00PM, 8/28/16 – Weather.com

With Hurricane Season approaching its annual peak activity period, we need to remain prepared for the worst if it happens. Florida has been very fortunate to not get hit with anything stronger than a tropical storm in the past few years, but that luck could run out sooner than we think.

Right now, meteorologists are monitoring what is currently known as “Invest 99L”, which is forming east of Puerto Rico. If the storm were to strengthen, it would could a tropical depression by the weekend. By Monday, it is predicted that the storm could further develop into Tropical Storm Hermine. The projected path sends the storm northwestward towards Florida, but some projections have the storm skirting the southern part of the state. Right now, we just don’t know the ultimate path, but a barrier of high pressure is keeping the storm from turning northward.

Many long time Floridians will remember the 2004 hurricane season, where four hurricanes crossed the state – one after the other. While this season may not bring forth that same pattern, we must still be prepared. Be sure to have a plan formulated now and be ready to execute it if need be. Also, if you have to evacuate, know where to go. For further storm preparedness information, please visit Ready.gov.

Both Hillsborough Area Regional Transit & the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority provide emergency bus services when evacuations are ordered. These special routes are designed to bring people who have no other place to go – to designated shelters. For further information regarding these services, please contact HART [(813)-254-4278 or by visiting gohart.org] or PSTA [(727)-540-1900 or by visiting psta.net].

Further updates will be made as information becomes available. In the meantime, please monitor local media outlets for the latest.


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Legalese | Disclosures

Website Relaunch Survey

Website Survey 1

This fall, I plan on beginning a massive overhaul and relaunch of my website to provide a better experience for my readers. In order to build a better website; I have put together an online survey that will ask for your suggestions. The survey should take no more than 10 minutes to complete, and your suggestions are greatly appreciated. During the survey, you will also have the chance to suggest a new name for the site.


What does the survey encompass?

First Impression

What is the first impression when you visit my site?

Ratings

I will ask you to rate my site overall, as well as 5 specific aspects: layout, functionality, attractiveness/design, content, and interactivity.

What do you want to see?

What existing content do you want to continue seeing on my site? What new content do you want to see? And is there anything that you no longer want to see?

Transit Agency Profiles

What transit agencies would you like me to profile in the future?

What’s in a Name?

You will have a chance to suggest a new name for site. While this section is completely optional, if you can think up a catchy name that relates to public transit and isn’t copyrighted, I might just choose your suggestion.

Additional Comments

Suggest anything that I didn’t cover in the survey


Deadline to complete the survey

The survey will be open through September 24, 2016 – 11:55PM EDT.

After that, the link to the survey will be deleted and no further responses will be allowed. I will then spend the next week evaluating responses. I hope to be able to re-launch the site by December 3, 2016.

So without further delay…


Launch the Survey


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Legalese | Disclosures

Why Transit Ridership is Down

Inside 2321. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012. March, 2014.
Inside HART 2321. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012. March, 2014.

You’ve probably noticed in recent months that overall transit ridership has declined. In some regions, transit ridership has declined to the point where transit agencies are seriously having to examine cutting service and raising fares just to stay afloat. Here in Tampa Bay, ridership on both Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) have seen ridership declines over the course of 2016. While the overall downward trend may be alarming to some transit riders, it is important to know what factors are going into any widespread transit ridership decline.

Improving Economic Outlook

Back in 2008 and 2009, transit ridership was surging at a time when transit agency budgets were shrinking. This was largely because gas prices were at all-time highs, unemployment was up, and the overall state of the economy was very gloomy. Fast forward to the present time – August 2016, and gas prices still hover near their lowest levels since 2007/2008, unemployment is down, job markets are changing, and the overall state of the economy – while not entirely positive – has very much rebounded from the lows of 2008/2009. This upcoming election is going to change the playing field yet again for transportation – so it is very important that everyone thoroughly research the candidates and issues at hand.

Expanded Transportation Options

The number of transportation options have expanded in recent years – especially in larger metro regions.  These options range beyond driving alone, and using bus and/or rail lines – and include biking/walking, carpool/vanpool, ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft, carsharing services like ZipCar, and even telecommuting and revised work weeks. All of these allow for people – especially Millennials – to broaden how they get around. On one note – the recent tension between local and state governments and the ridesharing companies may cause transit ridership to tick upwards again. This is especially the case in Hillsborough County, where the fate of Uber and Lyft hang in the balance of the notorious Public Transportation Commission (or PTC). The PTC oversees taxicab and limo companies – which argue that ridesharing companies are operating illegally because they (the rideshare companies) are not held to the same standards as they (the taxi and limo companies) are. Despite efforts to try and come to a consensus, the PTC has not budged on background checks and vehicle inspections. Therefore, the PTC is going evaluate whether to impose new rules on the rideshare companies anyways – something that could signal an immediate exit for both Uber and Lyft from Hillsborough – which in-turn could spark a jump in bus ridership for HART.

Big Auto shelling out car-buying incentives

With gas prices being lower and the overall economy in a better state than it was in 2008, the auto manufacturers are spending tons of money trying to get Milliennials back into cars – and in the case of the US automakers – gas-guzzling SUVs. You’ve probably been seeing various ads featuring Millennials and how “they love their cars”, so it should be no surprise here that this effort is also contributing to the overall decline in transit ridership – but specifically amongst choice commuters like many Millennials.

Transit agencies have limited offerings

Another reason for the decline in transit ridership is the fact that many transit agencies have had to scale back their offerings. Some bus and rail lines do not provide convenient and frequent service, and some lines have had to be cut back or eliminated due to budget cuts. This in-turn forces transit riders out of the system and into the realm of other options available – especially again…choice commuters.

Public distrust towards the transit agencies

If you’ve heard about the DC Metro saga, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Unfortunate events like the poor maintenance within the DC Metro system have also discouraged transit riders from using their respective systems. Poor transit agency management and decisions can also drive customers away from bus and rail lines and back into cars. It is already bad enough when transit agencies have to juggle with limited funding, but it is far worse and damaging when agencies have to deal with worsening ridership figures due to a large chunk of riders leaving the system – because they hate the management and decisions they’ve made.

In Conclusion

So to conclude; is it doomsday for the transit agencies? I wouldn’t say so. But, depending on how the upcoming elections pan out – we could either see transit funding and levels remain about where they are here in the US, or we could see a dramatic decline in transit funding and services. Once again, it is important for everyone to thoroughly research the candidates and issues at hand. Above all though – register to vote before it’s too late! I don’t care what or who you are voting for. Sitting out a crucial election like this one is the absolute worst decision that you can make.

With that being said, in the coming days – I will be launching a Transit Rider Interview initiative to try and gauge how transit riders feel about their current transit system(s). I will be following up with another blog post that goes further into what the initiative is about.


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Legalese | Disclosures

The Back To School 2016 Post

13340854_1242186942459529_231546219_o(1)

It’s time for students to return to school – and the school buses to hit the roads once again.

Well folks! It’s that time again! Time for many people to head back to school! And whether you’re a college student attending one of the local colleges or universities, or a parent trying to get some last minute school supply shopping done for your children, it is always important to know that with the school year starting back up, you can expect increased traffic on the roads. And yes, that includes those big yellow school buses!

In this Back to School Edition blog post, I will be highlighting the importance of school bus safety, because often times, we see accidents that involve a school bus. All 50 states the US have laws that revolve around school buses, specifically laws that make it illegal to pass a school bus when it is stopped (and its lights are flashing and signs are extended out). Sadly, there are too many incidents by which vehicles pass a stopped school bus as it is loading or unloading passengers, and some of those incidents have involved fatalities or serious injury.

In the past, I’ve been able to provide a link to Shawn’s “School Bus Driver” website, which had a page dedicated to this matter in particular. However, he has closed the website as of a few months ago. In place of that link, I am going to share a diagram that has been seen on various sites across the web. The diagram clearly shows when vehicles must stop for a stopped school bus that is loading or unloading students.

passingbuses

With that said, I wish everyone that is headed back to the classroom a safe and wonderful school year!