PSTA OCTOBER 2, 2016 SERVICE CHANGES – PARTS 2 AND 3

On Sunday, October 2, 2016; the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) enacted a major revamp of key bus routes with the goal of streamlining service and improving efficiency and reliability throughout the system. These changes include the introduction of four new bus routes and substantial changes to 12 others – including the Jolley Trolley. I was originally going to make three posts in the series, with this post discussing changes made to key central Pinellas routes. However, due to Hurricane Matthew, I’ve decided to combine the two into one post.


Improving Clearwater and Northern Pinellas Service

Various routes in Central and Northern Pinellas were revised to improve system efficiency and eliminate notoriously long runs that caused entire routes to be inefficient. The most radical change was in North Pinellas, where routes in Dunedin, Tarpon Springs, Countryside, and Clearwater were changed.


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With almost never-ending construction on Ulmerton Rd, Route 59 was continually bogged down in delays – which in-turn caused the entire route to run inefficiently. To help remedy this problem, the 59 was truncated at the 34th St N Platform, with the southern sections being taken over by Routes 4 and 9. Weekday frequency was also streamlined to include 15-minute peak service with 30-minute midday service (with the exception of a 15-minute “pulse” during the noon hours), and 40 to 45-minute evening service (after 6:00pm). Weekend service was left unchanged due to funding constraints, but February 2017’s service changes will yield 30-minute Saturday service and buses running through 11:00pm on weekdays, 10:00pm on Saturdays, and 9:00pm on Sundays.


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route-60Route 60 saw no major changes, but did see adjustments made to running and departure times to improve efficiency.

 


IMG_20160325_072210route-61Route 61 was extended to Westfield Countryside via SR 580 to create an additional option for those wanting to commute between the Countryside, Dunedin, and Clearwater areas. The area around Palm Lake Village continues to be served, but the segment of SR 580 between Pinehurst Rd and County Rd 1 is no longer served, and the north-south portion in Dunedin was re-aligned to  Patricia Ave.


route-62Route 62 no longer serves Safety Harbor, and has instead been realigned to operate along SR 580 and McMullen Booth Rd between Westfield Countryside and the Shoppes at Boot Ranch. Service lost from the 62 was compensated via a revised Dunedin/Palm Harbor Connector.


route-66lSince the implementation of the Jolley Trolley Coastal Route back in the late 2000s, service along Alt US Hwy 19 has seen duplication of what could be one single service. PSTA and the company operating the Jolley Trolley agreed to combine the resources of the 66 and the Jolley Trolley Coastal Route into one trolley route. The 66 numbering was retained for a limited stop service that would follow the original local 66’s routing between Clearwater and Tarpon Springs, but service only operates during peak hours on weekdays, in addition to the AM and PM runs to the Clearwater Fundamental Middle School when class is in session.

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route-67Route 67 was streamlined so that all trips serve the Nielsen Media Research Campus in Oldsmar. The Forest Lakes Blvd segment between Commerce Rd and Tampa Rd was eliminated. Those in the southern portion of the Forest Lakes subdivision can still use the Tampa/Oldsmar Connector.


route-76Route 76 did not see significant changes to its routing or schedule, but an intermittent service area was added in Downtown Clearwater in the event that the route needs to be detoured due to downtown events.


route-78Route 78’s Dunedin portion was re-aligned to serve the Douglas Ave portion of the 61. Scheduling changes were also made.

 


Changes to the North County Connector

The Tampa/Oldsmar Connector was re-aligned to serve Belcher Rd instead of Countryside Blvd due to demand. Schedules have also been streamlined to where buses now operate every hour on Saturdays, instead of every hour and 15 minutes with the prior route, and buses run a bit later in the day as well.

The Dunedin/Palm Harbor Connector was re-aligned to serve the Safety Harbor/Main St portion of Route 62, while the limited trips to the St. Petersburg College Tarpon Springs Campus was eliminated due to low ridership. Schedules have also been streamlined and buses run a bit later than they used to under the old route.


What’s Next?

Starting February 5, 2017, PSTA will enact another round of service changes that will usher in expanded service for many Pinellas routes. This is able to be done thanks to the increase in the millage rate that PSTA receives from property tax revenues.


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Gasparilla 2017

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 28, starting at 2:00pm.

Roadway Closures and Parking Info

On Friday, January 27, the day before the parade (that is TOMORROW 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 News Channel 8 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 8:00am 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 Saturday Route (Route 97) will operate along its normal route, but will provide frequent service throughout the day. Service will commence at 9:00am and run roughly every 15 to 20 minutes through 7:00pm. Customers may disembark the trolley at stops along Jackson St (inbound to Channelside) or Whiting St (Outbound to Marion Transit Center). OneBusAway tracking will be unavailable.

The Cross-Bay Ferry will NOT OPERATE!!!

For those hoping to hitch a ride on the ferry this Saturday, sorry folks! This is due to US Coast Guard regulations in place during the parade.


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


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New Story Project – Tampa Bay of the Future

You may be reading the title of this post, but that’s not what I’m calling this story. In fact, right now, the story doesn’t have a name – not even a working title. However, I feel that I have put together enough details to be able to bring forth some basic information about the project to my readers.


What is this story about?

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Nathan Tipton – the main character of the story. Note: All of my characters are created in The Sims 4.

First and foremost, this is purely a work of fiction. While it does take place in a real life area, the characters, venues, and many other elements of the story are all fictional, and all of my own creation. There will be some references to present-day events, places, and public figures, but all are done so coincidentally.

The story takes place in the Tampa Bay Area, but primarily St. Petersburg – all set in the year 2066 (later going into 2067). There won’t be flying cars (I don’t see that we’ll be in the Jetsons age that quickly), but vehicles will be automated and a key roadway that many use today won’t be in existence. There will also be a vast bus and monorail system involved, as well as a built-out Brightline intercity rail system, and a wide array of areas for people to take a breath of fresh air at (also known as parks).

The story revolves around a young man named Nathan Tipton. He is a police officer in San Francisco who winds up moving to St. Petersburg with his mom and younger brother (the latter who is also a police officer). While trying to get adjusted to his new life in Florida, he runs into some old friends and adversaries while trying to make new friends and find his forever soulmate. Throughout the story, Nate also encounters a variety of situations with some being harder to deal with than others.

As I continue to put this story together, I will post subsequent updates regarding the characters, venues, and the overall area by which the story takes place in. I don’t want to reveal too much more about the plot so as to not spoil everything.

If you’d like to provide any suggestions for this project, please feel free to contact me through the Contact Form (link is below).


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UPDATE: Agreement between the Greater Dayton RTA and ATU 1385 reached. Transit Service to resume on Friday, 1/13/17.

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After spending 13 non-stop hours at the negotiating table, both leaders at the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1385 were able to reach an agreement Wednesday evening. The agreement – by which details are still yet to be publicly announced – ends months of contention between the two parties as well as a three-day strike by unionized transit workers. Both sides must formally vote for the agreement, but as of now, there does not appear to be any issues that would prevent respective votes from being held.

The RTA has announced through its social media feeds, that regular transit and paratransit services will resume on Friday, January 13, 2017.


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Greater Dayton RTA Service Suspension – What you need to know

Strike Force and Labor Dispute_0.jpg

It’s not too often that I report on transit happenings occurring outside of my coverage areas. However, in extenuating circumstances that could cause long-term impacts upon a transit agency while causing short to mid-term service disruptions – it’s important to know what your options may be if transit services are suddenly not available.

In the Dayton, OH region, many transit customers rely on the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority to provide bus and paratransit services each day. The area’s school district also contracts with the transit agency to provide basic bus service to and from schools. In Florida, most of the respective school districts provide their own busing to transport students to and from school.

During the past several months, a labor dispute has threatened to cripple transit services if left unresolved. Unionized employees have continually alleged that their needs for better pay and benefits have been left ignored by agency management. Despite several efforts to try and negotiate through the situation without incident, those talks have failed.

As of 12-midnight this morning, the unionized GDRTA employees are on strike, leaving regular bus services completely suspended and paratransit services operating at bare minimum levels until further notice. While many have been bracing for the possibility of a widespread service interruption in a worst-case-scenario for some time, other customers were left scrambling for transportation options as of this morning.


How did this happen?

Two key issues by which the unionized GDRTA employees – represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1385 – are demanding that management resolve are pay and medical benefits. Workers state that there has been no pay raise since April 2014 and that they have not been properly compensated for overtime. Additionally, increased costs in health care have prompted the agency to make unpopular changes in their employee’s medical benefits. So far, the two sides have been unable to come to an agreement and the union announced its intent to go on strike in late December of 2016, with January 8th being the “make it, or break it moment”.


What you need to know going forward

There’s no doubt that as the AM rush hour starts to dwindle that many are left stranded, wondering how they’ll get to where they need to go. While the strike is in effect, expect increased traffic as those who have access to a personal vehicle but normally use transit will be on the roads. Additionally, ride sharing and taxi services will be to capacity and a speedy pickup may not be available. While biking, walking, carpooling, and telecommuting may be an option for some, it will not be an option for many others.

For those who rely on paratransit services (also known as Project Mobility), you should contact (937) 425-8300 for further information and scheduling a next-day trip. You can monitor updates through local media outlets and through social media. Frequently Asked Questions are posted to the RTA website.


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MLK 2017 Holiday Transit Schedules

Monday, January 16, 2017 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 Transit Service Levels

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For transit services not listed above, please contact your respective transit agency.


Customer Service

Unless otherwise noted, many transit agencies will operate normal (weekday) customer service hours. Please contact your respective transit agency for the latest information. As of January 3, 2017, I am no longer posting Customer Service hours because I cover so many agencies and not all agencies post detailed information on their websites.

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.


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