Over the past couple of months, I’ve been making preparations for my next & largest website update to date. Many of you may have already noticed the new theme & layout, as well as the completion of some sections.
However, over the next few months, I’ll be heavily working on sections that I previously was unable to complete due to other obligations. Such sections for the most part, have been temporarily taken down until I’ve had a chance to re-work them. You’ll thus notice the lack of links on the navigation bar.
My completed sections/pages so far comprise of the following:
Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority section (with the exception of the Active Transit Vehicles page)
Manatee County Area Transit section
Other Features & Projects section
Intercity Transit Services subsection
Transit Museum subsection
Alternative Fueled Vehicles subsection
If you’d like to get sneak peak on what I’m working on here at The Global Transit Guidebook & you happen to have a presence on Facebook, please feel free to join The Global Transit Guidebook Forum Facebook Group. There, you can also share your transit-related photos & experiences, partake in periodic group polls & photo contests, & share transit-related news & happenings from your area. You do not have to be a transit enthusiast or advocate to join.
Avoid parking & traffic hassles, use transit this Spring Break!
It’s hard to believe that March is just around the corner, and with that comes the rush of college students and families from all across Pinellas County and beyond to enjoy the county’s award-winning beaches. Also along with that, comes a lot of traffic and parking headaches. In this post, I will break down some of the alternatives available to you should you join in on the Spring Break hustle and bustle.
Extra Transportation Options in Clearwater Beach
Let’s begin with the award-winning Clearwater Beach, which is a consistent hotspot for tourists & residents alike. Because of the immense amount of people who visit Clearwater throughout the year, peak tourist seasons always bring forth massive amounts of traffic across the Memorial Causeway bridge, & this year will certainly be no exception.
To help alleviate some of the congestion and to promote an alternative option to get to and from Clearwater Beach, the City of Clearwater and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) collaborated last year to provide additional bus trips between the beach and designated park-and-ride lots in downtown Clearwater. While the initiative was considered a success, it was met with many challenges – including where to let customers on and off at once at Clearwater Beach.
The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) Clearwater Beach Transit Center – which was constructed last year – will once again become the focal point of beachside transit operations in Clearwater Beach. While this facility provides a safe avenue for tourists & residents to board or de-board a bus on the westbound side of the causeway, the eastbound side has remained a challenge. This year, the agency – with its partners at the City of Clearwater – has constructed a second transit platform by the Clearwater Beach Marina to allow those heading back to Downtown Clearwater a safe avenue to board without having to circle the roundabout.
Whether you’re driving into the Clearwater area, or using a PSTA bus route to connect to the trolleys, you can leave the driving to your bus operator and not have to worry about changing lanes or battling other visitors to find a parking space. I will tell you right now that finding parking in Clearwater Beach is extremely difficult during the peak tourist season, and you could be waiting over 15 minutes in some cases just to find a parking space.
For the Spring Break 2019 season, PSTA has created a page on its website where you can learn more about the expanded trolley service and park-and-ride lot locations. Buses will depart the park-and-ride lots every 15 minutes (with PSTA and Jolley Trolley vehicles alternating trips) and customers will be able to park at the lots for free. Once at Clearwater Beach, you will be able to exit at the Clearwater Beach Transit Center and will only need to walk a short distance to get to the powder white sand of the beach, or other nearby shopping and dining destinations.
Please keep peeled to the PSTA website for special Spring Break transit promotions!
The Clearwater Ferry
For those who enjoy being out on the water, the Clearwater Ferry is a fun & convenient alternative to crossing the Memorial Causeway. Ferry landings are located alongside Downtown Clearwater, the Clearwater Beach Marina, Island Estates, and the northern end of Clearwater. There’s also a separate route that serves Dunedin, so you can take advantage of that avenue as well! Further information regarding the ferry, including current fares, are available through their website.
Transportation Options to St. Pete Beach
St. Pete Beach is another tourist hotspot during Spring Break, but isn’t as congested as Clearwater Beach. Nonetheless, roadways can get jammed at times and parking can be a hassle. Additionally, roadway construction around Pass-A-Grille is making getting around a headache of its own.
PSTA provides trolley service to St. Pete Beach and Pass-A-Grille via the Central Avenue Trolley. The trolley operates every 20 minutes during the day on weekdays and every 30 minutes during the evening and all day on weekends. Please note that some trips may be delayed or rerouted due to construction in Pass-A-Grille. PSTA is currently exploring the possibility of truncating Central Avenue Trolley service at the Don Cesar Beach Resort stop, and having customers transfer to a shuttle bus or van to complete their trip to Pass-A-Grille.
St. Pete Beach also serves as the southern terminus for the Suncoast Beach Trolley – which departs every 30 minutes. You can catch either trolley at the Gulf Blvd/75th Ave transfer point and quickly get to and from the beaches – whether you’re coming from St. Pete, Clearwater, or somewhere in between.
What if I’m going to another beach?
Most of Pinellas’ award-winning beaches are served by either a PSTA bus or trolley, or the Jolley Trolley lines. The only exceptions are Fort Desoto Park/Beach, Honeymoon Island, Sunset Beach, and Fred Howard Park, as there is no transit service to these destinations. However, bicyclists can ride to these areas without having to venture too far off from a bus route or The Pinellas Trail system.
The Central Avenue Trolley serves the following destinations:
St. Pete Beach (transfer point to the Suncoast Beach Trolley is at 75th Ave @ Gulf Blvd)
Central Avenue Corridor & the historic Grand Central District
PSTA Grand Central Station
The Edge (Arts & Entertainment) District
Downtown St. Petersburg (including Beach Dr, Sundial Shoppes, and The Pier District)
The Suncoast Beach Trolley serves the following destinations:
St. Pete Beach
Madeira Beach (including the John’s Pass Shopping District & Boardwalk)
Connection to Route 68 is available at John’s Pass. Simply exit the trolley at the stops across from the shopping district and board Route 68 at the northbound-facing stop along Gulf Blvd. You may also transfer by exiting the trolley at any stop along Gulf Blvd between the shopping district & 150th Ave (Tom Stuart Causeway).
Reddington Beaches (including Reddington Shores) Indian Shores
Indian Rocks Beach
Connection to Route 59 is available at 4th Ave. Simply exit the trolley at the Gulf Blvd stop by the CVS Pharmacy at 4th Ave & walk one block east to the stop on 4th Ave @ 1st St.
There are no stops in the Belleair Beach or Belleair Shores areas.
Unfortunately, these communities are not very friendly to transit and do not wish to place any funding towards transit service, so thus there are no trolley stops in these communities.
Sand Key Beach
Clearwater Beach (including dining and entertainment)
PSTA Clearwater Beach Transit Center
Island Estates (early morning trips only)
PSTA Park St Terminal
Downtown Clearwater dining and entertainment
The Jolley Trolley Beach Route serves Island Estates after 10:00am. The route also serves many popular Clearwater Beach destinations throughout the day. Departure times are staggered so that you don’t have to wait too long for either a PSTA Suncoast Beach Trolley or a Jolley Trolley vehicle to arrive if you’re traversing the island.
The Jolley Trolley Coastal Route serves the following destinations:
Sand Key Beach
Clearwater Beach (including dining and entertainment)
PSTA Clearwater Beach Transit Center
PSTA Park St Terminal
Downtown Clearwater dining and entertainment
Various coastal destinations throughout Dunedin, Ozona, and Tarpon Springs – including the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks.
Regardless of where you venture off to via PSTA, be sure to download the Transit App before you go!
What other transportation options are available?
For those who aren’t using transit to get around, but still don’t want to rent a vehicle, you can utilize Uber and Lyft. Just keep in mind that surge pricing may be in effect during periods of high demand. Taxicab companies will also be busy shutting people around the area.
Baseball Spring Training is back, which means heading out to the stadium, fighting traffic, battling to find a good parking spot, & maybe having to pay to get into the lot in the process.
It doesn’t have to be that way if you’re heading to Dunedin Stadium to watch the Toronto Blue Jays though. The city of Dunedin, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), & the Clearwater Jolley Trolley, have teamed up to provide a free Park-N-Ride lot in downtown Dunedin, along with free Jolley Trolley service to and from the stadium. The promotion begins Saturday, February 23, 2019 & runs until Friday, March 22, 2019.
For further information, please select from one of the following links. Please be advised that game dates & times are subject to change.
Moving Towards Better Express Bus Service In Tampa Bay
Post was updated on 03/03/2019. Information has been added regarding the planned start of the PSTA/FDOT shoulder-running pilot project on I-275.
The last time I wrote a post on my experiences on Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) Routes 100X & 300X was way back in 2012. Lots have changed since that time – including me moving over to Pinellas County & PSTA changing the routing and schedules for both routes. In this post, I will provide an update on where these routes are now and where we’re heading.
Ever since it was established, the 100X has always traveled between Downtown Tampa & Gateway Mall in St. Petersburg. Originally, the route was operated by Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART), but was handed over to PSTA in 1990. Frequency has greatly varied over the years, with departures ranging between 30 minute peak headways and 60 minute off-peak headways, with limited midday service. However, the biggest limitation of the 100X is that current funding levels do not allow it to run on weekends – creating a large void for those who want to cross into Hillsborough County and vice versa all week long.
While the map can look a bit intimidating, one thing to note is that only certain marked stops are served. In some areas, the bus will serve nearly all localized stops, while in other areas, buses will only serve selected intersections. It is important to know which stops serve the 100X so that you can properly catch the bus.
Downtown St. Petersburg
A vast majority of designated PSTA stops along portions of 1st Ave N & 1st Ave S are served, as well as selected stops along other downtown corridors. Buses use I-275 & I-375 to traverse between 54th Ave N & Downtown St. Pete. Please note that there are currently no stops along 54th Ave N.
Buses travel northbound only on 4th St N between 54th Ave N & 77th Ave N & southbound only on MLK St N between 77th Ave N & 54th Ave N. Only selected stops at selected intersections are served.
Gateway Mall Transfer Center: Connections are available to Routes 4, 9, 16, 58, 74, & 75.
From the Gateway Mall Transfer Center stop to Gandy Blvd via MLK St N, 83rd Ave N, & 4th St N, almost all designated PSTA stops are served.
On Gandy Blvd, all designated PSTA stops are served, but stops are limited along the corridor approaching the Gandy Bridge.
Once in Hillsborough County, buses traverse Gandy Blvd from the bridge to Dale Mabry Hwy with localized stops available. Customers can connect with HART Route 17 at Manhattan Ave.
Buses then travel on Dale Mabry Hwy between Gandy and the Britton Plaza Transfer Center, with localized stops available. Customers can connect with HART Route 360LX anywhere along the corridor.
HART Britton Plaza Transfer Center: Connections are available to HART Routes 17, 19, 36, 360LX, & the South Tampa Flex route.
After leaving Britton Plaza, buses go non-stop again, but via the Selmon Expressway, to travel to Downtown Tampa. Those wishing to access points along Dale Mabry Hwy between Britton Plaza & Bay to Bay Blvd, or Bay to Bay Blvd between Dale Mabry Hwy & MacDill Ave will need to use HART Route 360LX instead.
Once in Downtown Tampa, buses serve all stops along the Marion St Transitway & terminate at the HART Marion Transit Center North Platform. Customers can connect to either PSTA Route 300X, or a variety of HART services – including MetroRapid. Connections with MegaBus & RedCoach services are also available at the North Platform. Please visit www.gohart.org for a current listing of connections at the Marion Transit Center, as routes & boarding locations can change.
Route 300X was established in 2003 to allow customers in central Pinellas direct limited-stop access to Downtown Tampa. A Park-N-Ride lot (originally a KFC) is situated near the corner of Ulmerton Rd & Starkey Rd for customers who wish to leave their vehicles instead of crossing the Howard Frankland Bridge. Customers from Routes 59 & 73 are also able to easily access the facility. In 2016, the lot received a much-needed facelift that included lot resurfacing, bus lane redesign, a new green space, & shelters.
Like the 100X, overall frequency on the 300X has varied since its 2003 launch, with initial frequency being every 30 minutes during peak hours & limited midday service. Over time, peak frequency has been cut back to every hour due to ridership pattern changes & funding constraints. Also like the 100X, there is also no weekend service. However, unlike the 100X, the 300X has always had limited stops throughout its entire journey (see the route map below).
In 2018, PSTA restructured & re-branded the 300X to serve Tampa International Airport’s public bus hub, located adjacent to its rental car center. This allows customers to leave their vehicles at home or park conveniently at the Ulmerton Park-N-Ride lot & catch a bus to the airport. To address rider concerns about connecting between the lot & Downtown Tampa (including HART’s Marion Transit Center) directly, one AM trip & one PM trip skips the airport.
As a result of the restructuring, the 300X is now referred to as the “Airport Express” & buses # 16101, 16103, & 16106 (all 2016 40-foot Gillig Low Floor hybrids) have sported special wrapping for the service. Additionally, some seating on these buses have been removed to accommodate luggage racks.
What does the future hold?
Unless PSTA is able to locate additional funding avenues, such as the passage of a county-wide sales tax referendum, don’t expect too much to change with either express route. However, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is currently working with PSTA on two projects that will affect the 100X.
The first is a shoulder-running pilot by which when congestion on I-275 becomes bad, buses will be allowed to run along a hardened outer shoulder to bypass traffic. The second is the redesign and usage of an FDOT-owned lot on 22nd Ave N by the interstate that is currently used for Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (TBARTA) sponsored carpools & vanpools. PSTA would be able to use the redesigned lot for Park-N-Ride operations for the 100X. Both projects are connected to the broader, yet controversial plan to bring variable toll lanes to I-275 and other thoroughfares throughout the region. FDOT also continues to provide funding support for both routes via its Urban Corridor Project.
On February 26, 2019, FDOT announced that construction of the revised shoulders on I-275 between Gandy Blvd & 5th Ave N will begin this fall, with scheduled completion & operation in early 2020. It is not clear when the Park-N-Ride project will commence.
Monday, February 18, 2019 is President’s Day. 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 President’s Day, with some districts operating weekday services with modifications.
The only transit agencies that I know of, by which I cover in The Global Transit Guidebook, that will operate a modified schedule are Hampton Roads Transit (HRT), the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, & the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH). Some New Jersey Transit (NJT) bus & rail services may be modified accordingly, as well as various other northeastern US bus & rail services. Please check with your respective transit agency if you are unsure about the service schedule for President’s Day.
Hampton Roads Transit (HRT)
Weekday service for light rail, ferry, & most bus routes.
Express bus routes 919, 922, 973, & 974 will not operate.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York (MTA)
Subway & bus services will operate on a modified Saturday schedule with some services & routes seeing extra trips.
Commuter rail schedules may vary.
Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH)
While I’ve done my best to ensure accuracy, the listed information ultimately comes from the transit agencies themselves. If you spot an error, please let me know as soon as possible so that I can correct it.