November, 2018 Photo of the Month

Gainesville Regional Transit System (RTS) # 1807 on layover. Photo courtesy of Sean W.

The November “Showcase” photo is of a relatively new bus this time, # 1807 from the Gainesville Regional Transit System (RTS) in Gainesville, FL. This is one of eleven 2018-series 40-foot Gillig Low Floor buses that the agency ordered to replace its oldest buses. The photo shown here was taken by Global Transit Guidebook Forum moderator Sean W.

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October, 2018 Photo of the Month

Broward County Transit #1336, taken by Jake L.

The October, 2018 “Photo of the Month” features another member of the “dying breed” group of transit buses, and was once again chosen by members of my Facebook group – The Global Transit Enthusiast Lounge. The photo was taken by our photo contributor and assistant administrator Jake L.

This month’s showcase features Broward County Transit (BCT) #1336, which is a 2013 40-foot North American Bus Industries (NABI) Low Floor (or 40-LFW) transit bus operating on Route 36. NABI’s low floor buses were once powerhouses for both Broward and neighboring Miami-Dade County, and there were three model generations manufactured. Additionally, NABI produced a sleek Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) version of the LFW featuring a curved front. The BRT line of buses were produced in 40 and 60-foot (articulated) lengths, while the regular LFW models were produced in 30, 35, and 40-foot lengths. Options for diesel, diesel-electric hybrid, and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) were available on both bus types.

BCT and Miami-Dade Transit (part of the Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works) both have 1st and 2nd generation models – either diesel or hybrid, and each sporting mechanical and cosmetic differences. The 3rd generation model is based on the 2nd generation, but with various mechanical and cosmetic differences. The 2nd and 3rd generation models had the option for “frameless” exterior window panels.

NABI was acquired in 2015 by New Flyer and thus the former’s line of buses are no longer produced. BCT was originally due to get one the final batches of 40-LFW 3G models, but they wound up cancelling the order due to financial difficulties. Fifteen of the buses wound up being acquired by M-DT for service on their express routes that originate in Broward County, while the remaining buses went elsewhere.


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Fall 2018 Service Changes

It’s that time again…

It’s that time again, time to roll out the next batch of transit system service changes. Effective dates and scope of changes will vary greatly by transit agency. For this post, I’m going to divide each of the changes by transit agency and arrange by effective date.


Agencies included in this post

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, Polk Citrus Connection, Sarasota County Area Transit, Palm Tran, & Hampton Roads Transit


Hampton Roads Transit (HRT)

Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, & Portsmouth, VA

What’s Changing?

Seasonal Virginia Beach WAVE Routes 30 & 35 will be ending service for 2018. VB WAVE services will resume in May, 2019.

Customers can use alternative services to access the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.

  • Shore Dr between Pleasure House Rd & Great Neck Rd: Route 29
  • Virginia Beach Oceanfront & Atlantic Ave: Route 33

When are the changes effective?

Sunday, September 30, 2018 will be the final day of service for Routes 30 & 35 for 2018.

Where can I get more information?

On the HRT website, or by calling 757-222-6100.


Photo courtesy of Carlos A.

Palm Tran

Palm Beach County, FL

What’s changing?

Palm Tran will be implementing its system redesign called Route Performance Maximization (or RPM). This effort is very similar to the Mission MAX system redesign effort that Hillsborough Area Regional Transit implemented last year. The aim of RPM is to create more direct transit services with more uniform frequency, faster travel times, and a greater span of service.

The Palm Tran website has a dedicated comprehensive page on all of the approved changes and how you can plan your transit trip around the new schedules.

When are the changes effective?

Sunday, September 30, 2018 will be the first day of service under the RPM redesign.

Where can I get more information?

On the Palm Tran website, or by calling 561-841-4287.
The link above will go straight to the dedicated RPM page.


Polk Citrus Connection

Polk County, FL

What’s changing?

Several routes will be undergoing scheduling and/or routing changes to reflect ridership patterns, funding levels, and municipality agreements.

  • Route 15: Routing change to add more service within downtown Winter Haven.
  • Route 35: Routing changes in Frostproof.
  • Routes 40/44: Buses will begin serving the Winter Haven Amtrak station.
  • Route 59X: Route elimination due to low ridership.
  • Route 60: Saturday service will be discontinued due to low ridership.
  • Full listing of service changes can be viewed on the Citrus Connection website.

When are the changes effective?

A majority of the changes will take effect on Monday, October 1, 2018, though a couple of routes may have differing effective dates.

Where can I get more information?

On the Citrus Connection website, or by calling 855-765-5287.
Select the Routes tab at the top to view the new schedules and service change overview presentation.


Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART)

Hillsborough County, FL

What’s changing?

Three key routes will be changing – encompassing routing or scheduling changes.

  • Route 275LX: will be undergoing a minor routing change in Pasco County where northbound buses will serve the main entrance of Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel before arriving at the northern terminus at the Wiregrass Park-N-Ride Lot. Schedules will not change, and the southbound direction will not be affected. Northbound buses are already serving the new stop via temporary detour, but the detour will become permanent with this change.
    • Further enhancements to the 275LX will follow in December of 2018 (though possibly sooner) to include the introduction of the former Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) suburban coach buses. These buses include high-back reclining seats, individual reading lights and A/C vents, and overhead luggage racks.
  • Route 400 (MetroRapid): will see weekday frequency rolled back to every 15 to 30 minutes during the day with hourly late-evening service. For the past year, HART has fiddled with having MetroRapid buses depart every 12 to 15 minutes during the day on weekdays in an effort to help bolster ridership. However, this change has had a negative impact on service reliability – including bus bunching, buses running extremely late, and very short layover times (which weren’t allowing operators to take their proper breaks at the terminating points). Weekend service will remain largely unchanged.
  • Route 800 (TECOline Streetcar): will see the introduction of FARE FREE SERVICE, increased span of service, and increased frequencies during the week. These changes are all due to a Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) grant and will allow the streetcar to become a more viable alternate transportation option for both residents and visitors alike. The expansion in service will also allow for a more sturdier foundation for future system extensions.

When are the changes effective?

Sunday, October 7, 2018 will be the first day of the improved streetcar service, as well as changes for Route 275LX and MetroRapid.

Where can I get more information?

On the HART website, or by calling 813-254-4278
Select the Menu tab on the right, then select Maps and Schedules, followed by System Map and Schedules. On the schedules page, select the drop-down menu and scroll to the bottom to view the new schedules.


Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA)

Pinellas County, FL

What’s changing?

Several routes will undergo minor routing and/or scheduling changes to improve efficiency. Changes will also be made to shift resources from under-performing trips to higher ridership core services.

  • Routes 35 & 777 – The Central Ave Trolley & The Suncoast Beach Trolley: Both trolley routes will see map and/or time point changes. Overall schedules will only see very minor changes if any. For the CAT, maps have been changed to reflect current downtown St. Petersburg circulation. For the SBT, the southbound Clearwater Beach time point has been shifted to the new Clearwater Beach Transit Center platform along the Memorial Causeway – just prior to the beach roundabout.
  • Route 16: The first northbound weekday trip will be rolled back by 5 minutes to improve connectivity to the first northbound 100X trip at Gateway Mall.
  • Route 52: This will be the most drastic change in the system, with resources from current Routes 97 & 98 being rolled into weekday peak Route 52LX (Limited Express) trips that will skip the Avalon Ave/150th Ave N loop and serve the Carillon Business Park. Stops along the LX corridor will be limited to help reduce travel times, and the overall combination setup will allow for a more uniform frequency during the day, while under-performing early morning trips are adjusted or eliminated to make room for better evening travel options.
    • In addition, all weekend trips will begin serving the 34th St N transfer platform by the PSTA Facility.
  • St. Pete Downtown “Looper”: New routing and schedule will be implemented, as well as service using a combination of existing replica trolley vehicles and new PSTA BYD electric buses. Service will also become FARE FREE! More information can be found on the dedicated “Looper” page of the PSTA website.

When are the changes effective?

All service changes will take effect on Sunday, October 7, 2018, with Route 52LX trips beginning on Monday, October 8, 2018.

Where can I get more information?

On the PSTA website, or by calling 727-540-1900.
The link above will go straight to the dedicated service changes page.


Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT)

Sarasota County, FL

What’s changing?

Several routes will be undergoing scheduling and/or routing changes to reflect ridership patterns & funding levels.

When are the changes effective?

A majority of the changes will take effect on Saturday, October 27, 2018.

Where can I get more information?

On the SCAT website, or by calling 941-861-5000.
The link above will go straight to the Maps & Schedules page. To access the PDF file listing the service changes, select the October 2018 Route Change Notice, or simply click here.


Disclaimer

While I strive to maintain the highest level of accuracy, the information put together in this post originated from the transit agencies themselves. If you spot something that isn’t quite right, please let me AND the respective transit agency know so that we can convey the correct information. Thank you.


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Sarasota County Area Transit sells express bus fleet to Hillsborough Area Regional Transit

A New Life

Many transit agencies go through vehicle replenishment on a regular basis. Here in the United States, most transit vehicles operate anywhere from 10 to 15 years before it’s time for the agency to bid farewell and retire them. Some agencies however will keep buses on the road longer if the need is there – like if a new bus order is delayed or additional demand arises, while others may part ways earlier than planned if the vehicles are no longer needed – many instances due to shrinking budgets and service reductions.


Overall service reductions prompt fleet reductions

In Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT)’s case, the past few years of undergoing service tweaks and reductions have resulted in more buses in the fleet than what the agency needs. SCAT’s cross-county express routes, originally launched in 2013, have suffered very low overall ridership – despite many past efforts to try and enhance service with new branches and destinations. At one time, there were three express routes in operation – the 80X, the 90X, and the 100X. All three routes originated at either Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport or the Downtown Sarasota Terminal, and traveled southward to North Port. The 80X and 100X primarily used Interstate 75 while the 90X deviated through Venice.

#1104X at the South Venice WalMart.

During the past year or so, SCAT has trimmed down the number of express trips and axed the 80X and 90X. While I have reason to believe that the 100X will survive through the end of 2018, I have a strong feeling that the route will reach the end of the line for good in 2019 – especially now that the suburban coach style buses from 2011 and 2012 are leaving the fleet. Just this past July, SCAT expressed its intent to divest itself of the eight buses – numbered 1101X through 1106X for the six 2011 models, and 1201X and 1202X for the two 2012 models. While I’m not sure how many area transit agencies expressed interest in buying them, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) was the agency that ultimately purchased them. HART is currently struggling to maintain a sturdy bus fleet – with its 2005 and 2006 fleet reaching the end of their useful lives. HART intends to use the express coaches for its 60LX and 275LX (Limited Express) routes – which serve Tampa International Airport. While the timeframe for the start of revenue service under HART’s umbrella is not yet definitively known at the moment – the agency is looking to have them in service by January of 2019. While it does take time for the transfer process to occur – including decommissioning of the buses by SCAT, it is currently not known if the buses will be donning temporary wrapping and placed into service as soon as October, 2018, or if the buses will be sent off-site for repainting beforehand.


Upcoming website changes

As part of my broader website updating efforts, both the SCAT and HART fleet pages will be redesigned and will also reflect the transfer. In fact, I’ve already designed a draft post behind the scenes to reflect the addition of the coach buses to the HART fleet. On the SCAT page, the placeholder for the coach buses will remain intact – along with photos of the buses while they were in service with them, but I will also be directing my readers to visit the HART fleet page to see new photos of the buses in action with the latter.


Sources

Information used to put this post together was compiled from the following:


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And one final note…

I’ve been presented with the opportunity to help WordPress test a new editing format. While I like the features, I think the new post appearance looks a bit awkward with my current theme. I really like my current site theme and do not wish to change it, so we’ll see where this goes.


Changes to the Transit Roundup (e-paper)

A couple of years ago, I signed up with Paper.li to try out their customized “e-paper” based on specific topics that fancies one’s interest. While I’ve enjoyed being able to share various transit-related news through this platform, various changes that are beyond my control have forced me to re-evaluate whether to continue with the service for the time being or not. For the moment, I will continue to have my Transit Roundup “e-papers” published, but they will be done so on a weekly basis after Saturday, September 8, 2018. After this date, “e-papers” will be published every Saturday morning.


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PSTA Bus Fleet – September, 2018

Something that I don’t talk about too often via a blog post is bus fleet changes. And for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), there’s been a ton going on recently – old buses leaving, new buses arriving or on order, and sadly…buses getting into accidents.

#2116 at Williams Park. I last saw this bus in operation back in February, 2018.

First and foremost, let’s begin with the oldest fleet of buses in the PSTA fleet, the 2001-series 40′ Gillig Low Floors. These buses were true powerhouses back when they were new. One of my bus operator friends loved to drive them regularly in fact because of how they drove. While many of them still ran good up until 2016, the usual reliability issues came into play and the lifespan of a few – including #2109 – exceeded 15 years. Because of this, the 2100s were utilized solely as contingency spares (in the event that another bus broke down) after 2015. Many had been retired in 2016 and 2017, but a few – including #2109 – remained on the roster through the beginning of 2018. In fact, I last spotted #2109 on contingency duty as recently as April of 2018.

Since June of 2018, I’ve noticed that all of the remaining 2100s are no longer going out on the road. This can only mean that they’ve been officially decommissioned in preparation for the arrival of 9 new 2018-series 35′ Gillig Low Floors and 2 new 2018-series 35′ BYD K9 Battery Electric buses. The Gillig order will be virtually identical to the 2017-series buses that hit the road last year. In addition to the 11 new buses, 8 new 2018-series 27′ Freightliner Defender cutaway vans have arrived – slated to replace the aging 2002 and 2005 29′ Gillig Low Floors that are currently in use on the North County Connector routes. The original order of 2012 27′ Ford E450 cutaway vans were retired early in 2015 due to various mechanical defects – thus resulting in the holdover of the 2002 and 2005 “baby” Gilligs.

Between now and late 2020, a total of six 35′ BYD K9 battery electric buses (like this one) will be delivered to PSTA. Four are slated to be used on the Downtown St. Pete “Looper” system and two for a future circulator route in the Carillon Business Park.

With all of these new vehicles coming into the fleet, it made sense to completely phase out the 2100s to make room at the yard for them. In addition, the 9 remaining 2002-series 40′ Gillig Low Floors – which have also been running contingency duty – will be slowly phased out of the fleet over the next year to make way for 9 more 35′ Gillig Low Floor buses and 2 more 35′ BYD K9 buses (both 2019 models). In 2020, PSTA is slated to order 6 more 35′ Gilligs and now there are 2 more 35′ BYDs on the list due to another wave of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) “Lo-No” funds that were granted to the agency just last month. This makes a grand total of 38 buses that will be coming to the PSTA fleet – mostly to replace older vehicles that have exceeded their useful lives.

Created by HARTride 2012.

Now, let me go ahead and get into the last part of this post, since I’ve discussed both the old and the new buses. I have to now bring up the ugly – which is that several PSTA buses were recently involved in accidents. Bus # 15104 (a 2015 40′ Gillig Low Floor hybrid with the BRT design) was rear-ended by a municipal garbage truck last year while finishing a run on route 59 and has been out of service since. The PSTA board recently voted to allow the agency to have the bus hauled off to Tavares, FL – where Coach Crafters will make the necessary repairs to get the bus back in tip top shape for revenue service. See board meeting agenda (item 5E).

The second incident to note involved #2706 back in June of 2018. The bus operator apparently suffered a medical episode and wound up crashing the bus into a concrete utility pole – but not before a good Samaritan jumped aboard the bus to try to stop it. Miraculously, there were no other vehicles involved in the incident, no contact with pedestrians, and no other major property damage. However, due to substantial front-end damage to the bus caused by the collision with the utility pole, it will be out of service for quite a while. I’m not sure if #2706 will follow the same fate as #15104.

Regardless of the incident, any kind of accident involving a transit bus puts strain on the overall fleet because operational spares have to be used more often when breakdowns occur. Just the other day, I saw half of the 2200s out in revenue service to fill in for those buses who had either broken down or were involved in recent accidents.

As I wrap up this post, I want to give a quick shout out to transitaddict327 for giving me inspiration to create this post. I invite you to read up on his blog about the VIA Metropolitan Transit system in San Antonio, TX.


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September 2018 Photo of the Month

Trinity Metro #1105 on layover. Photo courtesy of Carlos A.

For the September, 2018 Photo of the Month, I decided to once again offer members in The Global Transit Enthusiast Lounge an opportunity to contribute their transit photos. Each contribution was then put up for a vote to see which one would grace the cover of my social media pages/groups and become the Showcase photo for September as well.

The winning photo was taken by our social media moderator Carlos A. and shows Trinity Metro (in Fort Worth, TX) bus #1105 on layover during its run on Route 67X, which operates Monday through Friday and connects the South and Southeast campuses of Tarrant Community College. Bus #1105 is a 2015 40′ Gillig Low Floor bus that is fueled by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). Many transit agencies in Texas have CNG-powered buses in their fleets in addition to diesel units.

Now this isn’t the first time that the 67X designation has come about, as there were two previous versions on the 67 that were eliminated. One of which was an ultra-express connecting Dallas with Fort Worth. I’m guessing that this incarnation was later replaced by the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) commuter rail that opened in 1996. In addition to the TRE, Trinity Metro is also constructing the TEXRail Commuter Rail line that will connect Downtown Fort Worth directly with Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.


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Labor Day 2018 Holiday Transit Schedule

Monday, September 3, 2018 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.


Select the image for a closer look.

Service Exceptions and Notes

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. Routes 40 & 41 will also operate on a special Holiday schedule with two hour headways. All other routes – including Routes 31, 32, & 33 – will not operate. Schedules can be obtained at www.votran.org.

To view holiday service schedules for the Gainesville RTS system, please visit their website at go-rts.com, Once on the homepage, hover over “Schedules” and select the “Fall 2018” button (schedules are updated in accordance with the college calendars at the University of Florida). Once on the schedules page, select the “Holiday/Reduced” button to view which routes will operate.

Select the image for a closer look.

Service Exceptions and Notes

Chicago CTA Website

PACE Website (Chicago area suburban bus services)

Metra Website (Chicago area Commuter Rail services)

Select the image for a closer look.

Select the image for a closer look.

Service Exceptions and Notes

NYCMTA Website

NY/NJ PATH Website

NJ Transit Website

SEVT “Moover” Website

SEVT “The Current” Website

Rabbit Transit Website

Select the image for a closer look.

Service Exceptions and Notes

Virginia Beach WAVE Trolley/Shuttle services will begin their fall service reductions after Labor Day. Please see below for the following information.

  • Route 30 – Atlantic Ave Trolley: Will continue to operate its normal daily schedule until Sunday, September 30, 2018.
  • Route 31 – Campground Shuttle: Will be discontinued for the season.
  • Route 35 – Bayfront Shuttle: Will reduce service to operate on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays only until Sunday, September 30, 2018.

Customer Service

Select the image for a closer look.

Additional Notes

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

  • HART (Tampa, FL): All major transit centers (Downtown/Marion, University, NetPark, Northwest, & Yukon). TVMs along the TECOline Streetcar Corridor are being removed in preparation of Fare-Free Streetcar Service, which will officially launch in October of 2018.
  • HRT (Norfolk/Hampton, VA): Updated locations.

Normal Transit Service Resumption

Regular weekday transit services will resume on Tuesday, September 4, 2017.


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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Site Renovations Underway

You’ll be seeing graphics such as this one across some of my sections as I work to update them.

Have you noticed something different about some of my sections lately? Yep, you guessed it! It’s time for a major update of The Global Transit Guidebook.

Over the next few months, I’ll be updating information in the existing sections, adding new sections, and expanding my photo collection. In addition, I’ll be able to kick start my new Jacksonville, FL section due to a recent trip.

I know that everything looks very disorganized now, but as I work to make these much-needed improvements, you’ll see a much better guidebook materialize so that transit riders, enthusiasts, and advocates alike can enjoy a better experience.

Would you like to make a suggestion for the Guidebook? Simply send me a message, or join our Facebook group.

~ HARTride 2012 & Staff


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August 2018 Photo of the Month

Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) Streetcar #4135.
Photo Courtesy of Toby R.

For the August, 2018 Photo of the Month, I decided to offer members in The Global Transit Enthusiast Lounge an opportunity to contribute their transit photos. Each contribution was then put up for a vote to see which one would grace the cover of my social media pages/groups and become the Showcase photo for August as well.

The winning photo was taken by group member Toby R. and depicts Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) streetcar #4135 traveling to Neville Park on Line 501. The model train pictured is a 1980 or 1981 UTDC/Hawker Siddeley CLRV L-2. While the older stock has been well maintained, they are slowly being phased out in favor of newer LRVs manufactured by Bombardier. Because of various issues with Bombardier, the rollout of the new LRVs has been painstakingly slow, leaving many of the older trains to see another day in revenue service – at least through 2019.

The TTC streetcar system is among a handful of streetcar lines that still operate in North America – as many were torn apart during the course of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s in favor of buses and personal automobiles. The TTC at one point even considered giving up on its own streetcar lines because of the high cost of maintenance and restoration of crumbling infrastructure. However, public pressure led to the TTC keeping many of its streetcar segments running.