Weather Advisory – Hurricane Irma

Weather Advisory 1

Check the status of transit agencies in FL

If you reside along the US east coast, chances are, you’ve been following the progress of Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma has become an intense and dangerous storm – sustaining Category 4 strength during much of this weekend. The storm is expected to batter the Caribbean before eventually turning northward. The big question is, when will Irma begin making that northerly turn? Right now, high pressure is preventing the storm from travelling northward.

With the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey still fresh on everyone’s minds, it is important to not panic, but be prepared. If Hurricane Matthew last year tells us anything about Irma’s track, it will very likely wind up being eerily similar to that. However, anything can happen between now and this next weekend, so I urge you to stay tuned to local media outlets for the latest updates and get your storm supplies together now.

Get storm updates from the Weather Channel

Get your Emergency Plan together NOW

HART Emergency Service Procedures/Routes/Maps


With Florida Governor Rick Scott declaring a state of emergency for the entire state ahead of Irma’s possible impacts, we will be in full Storm Mode until the threat passes. As always, this means that I will suspend all planned blog posts to bring you whatever updates I can on how the storm may affect you. All 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] or PSTA [(727)-540-1900 or by visiting].

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

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Updates to the OneBusAway interface for Tampa Bay

During the past week, a couple of updates have been made to OneBusAway for Tampa Bay, particularly the smartphone app.

Bike Share Layer

The folks at Coast Bike Share have been working with Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) and the Center for Urban Transportation Research to add capabilities to the OneBusAway smartphone app that would all customers riding a HART or a Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) bus to not only find bike share hubs, but also view how many bikes are available and even initiate the reservation process – all in one place! Thanks to a new layer added in the app, you can now do just that!

When you open up the OBA app, you’ll notice the new Layer button above the Geolocation button. Tap the Layer button to view the options available.

When you view the list options to display, anything in gray will not be viewable until you tap the option that you wish to view. For now, only the Bike Share option is available. In the future however, added capabilities will allow for other options to be added – yes, I sense a HyperLINK option being added later on for HART.

When you’ve tapped the option that you want to view, the button will turn blue.

Now you can view all of the Coast Bike Share hubs, indicated by the blue “P” marker. These will show in both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties – allowing you to plan what bus route to take to your particular destination AND view where the closest Coast hub is to your destination bus stop.

To view how many bikes are available at a particular hub, tap the hub marker that you wish to view and then a box appears showing the total number of spaces at that hub – and how many bikes are available to reserve. Once you’ve zeroed in on the hub that’s closest to your destination stop (that has bikes available), tap on the “Tap to reserve a bike” link and you’ll be directed to the Social Bicycles application to begin the reservation process.

If you have questions about how to use the Social Bicycles application or to learn more about Coast Bike Share and how it works, please visit the Coast Bike Share website.

HART Mission MAX Updates

In addition to the Bike Share capabilities, HART is also making gradual changes to the app to reflect the upcoming “Mission MAX” system restructuring.

The OBA Desktop Interface showing the existing and re-aligned (MAX) Route 5 through the USF area. Click the image for a larger view.

When you open the OBA app, or view the desktop site, you’ll notice that some routes will have additional placeholders for the post-restructured routing and stops. The existing routing and stops will be viewable until October 8, 2017 – when the system restructuring takes effect – but HART is getting the work done now so that customers can be able to catch a bus without worry once the restructuring takes effect.

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Photo of the Month – September, 2017

MTA Bus #5997 on the Q44-SBS, arriving at the Boston Rd layover point.

Showcasing another photo from my recent (May, 2017) trip to New York City this month, I want to delve a bit into the New York MTA’s Select Bus Service.

Select Bus Service (or SBS) is considered a premium transit service and operates similarly to HART’s MetroRapid in Tampa. Uniquely branded buses are used along each route, which comprises of limited stops and specially designated shelters, as well as off-board fare collection. Each SBS stop has ticket vending machines where you can purchase a MetroCard and then validate for use on the SBS line. Once your card is validated for use on the SBS line, a paper receipt will print. You’ll want to keep this receipt handy at all times, as ticket inspectors will board buses at random to combat fare evaders (and believe me, fare evaders are NOTORIOUS for boarding SBS lines).

The above photo shows one of the newest buses in the NYC MTA bus fleet, some of which are used for SBS lines. #5997 is among the many 2016 New Flyer diesel Xcelsior articulated buses that are assigned to the Q44 SBS  line, which connects the heart of Queens to the Bronx Zoo. These buses are equipped with complementary Wi-Fi access and USB charging ports so that you can sit back and relax while your device charges. I took full advantage of both features – to charge my phone so that I could take photos along the (7) train later, while being able to post my trip adventures on Facebook.