Welcome to the Blog!

Welcome to my transit blog, where you can read up on transit-related topics ranging from fare evasion to service adjustments. Feel free to start a discussion if you please, just make sure that you keep things clean. All comments are moderated, meaning that I must approve all comments before they can show up on blog posts and web pages. So any comments that I find to be inappropriate or offensive will not be posted on the website. Periodically, I will have ”Focus Posts” and poll questions that deal with specific transit-related topics.

Transit Tourism – New York City Transit Excursion 2017 – Part 2

In Part 2 of Transit Tourism – New York City Transit Excursion 2017, I am going to document my departure out of Tampa. Now, usually, my trips to Tampa International Airport aren’t much to write about – mainly because of the fact that Tampa Bay’s transit system is so inadequate. It’s even more pitiful when a world class airport like Tampa’s, is only served by one bus route – Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Route 30. Now, It’s been envisioned for a while to have a small transit hub on Tampa International Airport property, but previous plans fell through due to budgetary constraints and changing climates in the airport’s expansion plans. Fast forward to the present, and the airport is undergoing the largest expansion project ever to date. In the coming months, I’ll be making another update to my Tampa International Airport page – which will include photos of the terminal as of May/June 2017. Phase 2 of the airport expansion will include accommodations for HART buses to layover by the Consolidated Rental Car Facility – which would end the practice of buses going through the terminal loop roadway. Customers would instead get off the bus at the rental car center and take a SkyConnect train to the main terminal.

Whether you reside in Town-N-Country or South Tampa, HART Route 30 gets you to Tampa International Airport with 30-minute service seven days a week!

Now, to get back to the purpose of this post; instead of having my mom drop me off at the airport, or taking a taxi (the latter which costs a lot more than what I wanted to spend on transportation), I decided to take HART from my mom’s house in South Tampa to the airport via Routes 19, 36, & 30. Route 19 currently operates every 30 minutes on weekdays and every hour on weekends between Port Tampa City in South Tampa and Downtown Tampa’s Marion Transit Center. The 19 also serves Britton Plaza, Memorial Hospital, the Hyde Park district, and Tampa General Hospital. Buses south of Britton Plaza currently split into two segments, running roughly every hour; Manhattan Ave and WestShore Blvd. Route 36 currently traverses Dale Mabry Hwy and Himes Ave between South Tampa via Britton Plaza and Carrollwood by Fletcher Ave. The 36 runs every 30 minutes on weekdays and every hour on weekends. Finally, Route 30, which serves the airport, runs along Kennedy Blvd from Marion Transit Center to WestShore Blvd, passing by WestShore Plaza and International Plaza malls before arriving at the terminal. Buses continue onward to the Northwest Transfer Center in Town-N-Country, and operate every 30 minutes all day, all week. Under HART’s system reorganization plan, all three routes are slated for major revisions.

While it’s not necessarily easy to get to the airport via transit given the fact that Tampa Bay’s transit system is so inadequate, it is not necessarily impossible either if everything falls into place just right. While planning out my trip to New York, I heavily took transit accessibility into consideration and chose a flight out of Tampa that would not be so early in the morning by which I wouldn’t be able to use the bus to get to the terminal, but also not so late in the day by which I would not be able to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Big Apple during the same day. I also wanted to ensure that I would be able to connect between the airport in New York and wherever I was staying. The itinerary that I ultimately chose for my flight to New York was one by which the flight out of Tampa would depart at 8:30am and arrive in Washington D.C. (Reagan National Airport) by around 10:45am. My connecting flight out of D.C. would then depart at 12-noon and arrive at New York’s LaGuardia Airport by 1:30pm. This allowed me to plan my bus rides from South Tampa to TPA Airport in a manner by which I would enjoy seamless connections and relatively light traffic on the roads. Even though I had to get up early the morning of May 9, I was more than ready to head out that morning to catch my bus and flight. Best of all, I didn’t have to worry about parking fees or taxi fares, or having a family member drop me off. I left my car at my mom’s house, purchased a 3-day Flamingo Fare via the Flamingo Fares Tampa Bay App, and was able to relax and post on Facebook while on the bus. Below is an illustration showing the HART buses I took.

An illustration showing the HART bus routes that I rode to Tampa International Airport on May 9, 2017. Click on the image for a closer look.

Now before I go into each route, I will go ahead and clear something up that I know some of you will ask me. I purchased a 3-Day Flamingo Fare because I used HART on May 7 and May 8, in addition to May 9. I did this for two reasons; first, so that I would not have to hassle with locating parking in Ybor City or Downtown Tampa, and second, so I wouldn’t have to pay for each bus ride or purchase three separate day passes. May 7 happened to fall during the 2017 RiverFest, which was held along the Downtown Tampa RiverWalk. This family-friendly event featured food, entertainment, and all sorts of activities for everyone to enjoy! As with many Downtown Tampa events, parking is always a challenge, so I parked my car at Britton Plaza and took the 19 to Downtown to check out the festivities. On May 8, I parked in Downtown near the Marion Transit Center and took Route 8 to the HART Ybor City offices for a sit-down discussion with Sandra Morrison – HART’s Public Information Officer, and Marco Sandusky – HART’s Senior Manager of EEO and Community Programs. During our meeting, we discussed HART’s planned restructuring and what suggestions that I had in regards to various routes that are slated to be changed. We definitely had a wonderful discussion and I look forward to future transit conversations with them.

Route 19 – Manhattan Ave Branch to Britton Plaza

My journey to New York kicked off at around 4:00am. My duffel bag and backpack were ready to go the night before, and all I really had to do was get ready for the day ahead. Once I was all set to go (about 5:05am), I double checked my backpack for my boarding passes and then walked over to the bus stop. I managed to arrive at the bus stop just shy of 5:20am, which was the time that the first Route 19 bus to Downtown would depart from Port Tampa City. HART bus #1602 (a 2016 40-foot Gillig Low Floor CNG) arrived on time, and I was able to board without any issues with my Flamingo pass. I took my seat near the front of the bus and enjoyed the fifteen-minute ride to Britton Plaza. The bus actually arrived at the plaza a couple of minutes early, so I was able to have a little extra time at the plaza to eat my egg sandwiches that I prepared the day before. During my wait for Route 36, I saw Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) bus #2309 pull in, the last 2003 Motor Coach Industries (MCI) coach that was still in service for Route 100X. PSTA has slowly been phasing out its ten 2003 coaches since 2015 due to their age and rising cost to maintain them. Until funding avenues can be found for replacement coaches, standard Gillig Low Floor buses are being used as fill-ins for the 100X and 300X. My feeling is that PSTA may eventually purchase a fleet of 40-foot Gillig Low Floor suburban style buses that offer high-back reclining seats and luggage racks. Such buses are currently used at Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) for their Route 100X service. #2309 was pulled from service after May 19, 2017, and is awaiting official retirement.

Route 36 – Dale Mabry Hwy to Kennedy Blvd

HART bus #1004 (a 2010 40-foot Gillig Low Floor Diesel) arrived at Britton Plaza at approximately 5:50am. I quickly boarded and took a seat towards the middle of the bus. My ride was quite enjoyable, just like my ride on Route 19, with little traffic on the roads to delay the bus. While I was concerned that at least one trip would go haywire somehow, that fortunately did not happen. The ride on the 36 in fact, only took about nine minutes and the bus arrived at the stop on Dale Mabry Hwy at Kennedy Blvd on time. The clock had just struck 6:00am as I got off to cross the intersection and proceed to the Route 30 westbound stop.

Route 30 – Kennedy Blvd to TPA Airport

The walk to the Route 30 westbound stop along Kennedy Blvd by Church St took me about ten minutes. Once at the stop, I had until about 6:25am before the Route 30 bus arrived. During my wait, I saw the South Tampa Flex van (#4505) pull up and pick up a passenger. She was the only person to board the van and was the only passenger on board the van when it left. Both the Route 19 and 36 buses had only a handful of passengers on board, which was typical for an early morning trip. Buses typically don’t begin to crowd up midway through the route until around 6:30am, though the Route 36 bus did have a few more passengers on board than the 19 bus did. When #1215 (a 2012 Gillig Low Floor Diesel, which replaced 2000 Gillig Low Floor Diesel #2005) arrived, the bus was pretty crowded, so I was only able to take a seat after a standing passenger at the front of the bus got off a few stops down Kennedy. The bus continued to fill up with passengers until it was almost standing room only. During the fifteen-minute bus ride to the airport, I browsed the web and also posted a few things to Facebook. Like many transit agencies, HART buses are equipped with complimentary WiFi access to allow passengers to browse the web and social media without eating up their data plans. When I got off at the TPA Airport stop, which is located on the north (or Red) side of the Baggage Claim area, the clock read 6:38am, another on time arrival for HART!

Traversing TPA Airport

It took me only a few minutes to walk from the Baggage Claim level to the Shuttle level. For those unfamiliar with TPA Airport’s unique layout (only Orlando International Airport possess a similar layout to Tampa’s), level 1 of the main terminal (also known as the Landside Terminal) is for Baggage Claim. Level 2 is Ticketing and Check-In (of course I checked in online since I was not checking any bags in), and level 3 is where the shops, restaurants, and airside shuttles are located. Boarding and deboarding of planes take place at the airsides, by which passengers will take a people mover shuttle between the main terminal and the airside. SkyConnect will be a people mover line as well – connecting the main terminal to the southeast parking garage and the rental car center. To learn more about TPA Airport, you can visit their website. Also be sure to check out Orlando International’s website if you plan on flying into City Beautiful soon.

Once I arrived at the shuttle station to go to the airside (about 6:45am), I noticed that only one shuttle per airside was in service. During the construction process at the terminal complex, each airside is operating one shuttle instead of two. This is to allow modifications to be made to each of the shuttle bays. In the case with Airside E, both shuttle bays will be relocated so that more space can be made for shops and restaurants. Once the work wraps up next year or so, both shuttles will return to service at each airside. And by the way, the shuttle trip only takes about a minute to complete, which is very convenient versus airport terminals that follow a more traditional layout with long concourses. Security screening wasn’t too bad either and the lines weren’t terribly long. Every time I enter an airport to catch a flight, I’m always concerned that security screening will take a long time. However, on my last fight to New York in 2011, the lines weren’t very long either. At most, it was only about fifteen minutes. By the time I arrived at my gate, it was 7:00am – an hour of relaxation before boarding call!

I will continue my journey to LaGuardia in Part 3 of the series. However, I am going to also talk about the transit system in Washington D.C. and why I’m wary of ever using it. I will also talk about the shuttle buses at Reagan National Airport, so please stay tuned!

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Legalese | Disclosures

Final Countdown for South Ferry Loop

The final countdown is on for the many transit fans in New York City to get photos and videos of the old South Ferry Loop subway station before it shuts down for good.

While an official reopening date has yet to be announced by the New York City MTA for the “newer” South Ferry platform – which was damaged by SuperStorm Sandy in 2012, hints have been dropping that the “newer” station will be open before the July 4th holiday. This flyer regarding weekend work on the (2) and (3) lines states that the (2) will detour down the South Ferry-bound tracks to terminate at Rector St during the weekends of June 19th and 26th, but afterward, trains would terminate at the “newer” South Ferry.

I can only guess that at this point, the MTA does not want to announce a date too soon when work is still wrapping up on the rebuilding of the “newer” station. There has been quite a lot of work done on the station and some work will continue on even after the “newer” platforms have reopened. One key element that will be present when the reopening does happen is the water-tight doors that will seal off the platform section if flooding occurs. I’m also hearing that the rebuilt platform will pretty much look identical to how it did when it first opened in 2009, but with some cosmetic changes and LED lighting (instead of fluorescent).

So with all of this said, you might be wondering, “why not just have the (2) train service the South Ferry Loop when it’s being detoured?” From my understanding, the MTA is concerned that rail operators on the (2) and (3) trains might not have the proper training to operate the train doors properly. Only the first five cars of the train can be opened at the loop, a key reason why the “newer” station was built (it was not feasible to expand the loop to accommodate 10-car trains).

To wrap things up, I’m very glad that I got to visit New York City while the South Ferry Loop was still open. I’ll discuss the loop more during my Transit Tourism series on my recent trip. But in the meantime, I already have a video up on YouTube showing the loop, and the adjoining Whitehall St station, that you can watch. I will make an update to this post when the official reopening date for the “newer” South Ferry platform is announced.

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Legalese | Disclosures

Transit Tourism – New York City Transit Excursion 2017 – Part 1

It’s been a very long time since I’ve done a Transit Tourism post, and I really haven’t been able to get this series off the ground due to other priorities. However, I’m sure that many of you have seen at least one photo or video of my recent travels through New York City, and I want to be able to share my experiences with you. I’ve actually taken three trips now to the Big Apple – one in April of 1997, the second in March of 2011, and the third – and most recent one – in May of 2017.

My 1997 trip was for a family wedding, and I truly enjoyed being able to spend time with them and also do a lot of sightseeing. Unfortunately, I do not have any photos documenting my transit rides from 1997 because the camera that my father was carrying got lost during our trip, and thus 95% of the photos we took had vanished forever. I can tell you though that we rode the (7) train between Flushing – Main St and Times Square – 42nd St quite a lot. It was our main avenue between Queens and Manhattan since my dad didn’t want to battle the busy Manhattan traffic all the time. Back in 1997, the famed “Redbird” trains – dating back to the 1964 World’s Fair and before – were still running along the (7). It would not be until a year later that the New York MTA would announce that all of the “Redbirds” would be replaced by sleek, modern R-142 and R-142A railcars.

In 2011, I made a return trip to New York City via Newark to visit my family and to do another round of sightseeing. Since most of my stay was devoted to family time, I didn’t place a huge emphasis on transit fanning, and thus did not take a lot of photos of the buses and trains. I was, however, able to ride the (6), (J), and (R) trains through lower and midtown Manhattan, as well as take the PATH Subway from Exchange Place into Manhattan, and also ride a New Jersey Transit bus from Manhattan to Fort Lee, NJ. You can find my 2011 transit photo collection (though a small one) on my Facebook Page. I will have those same photos copied over to the website as I build my New York City Transit sections.

So what brought me back to New York City this year? Well, to keep things short; my stepfather travels on business a lot and he had a flight voucher that he was no longer going to use, so he offered it to me. I then pondered, what destinations could I use the voucher for? It didn’t take me very long to decide on the Big Apple, and why not? I was originally not planning on traveling to New York again until around 2020. But with the South Ferry Loop closing down by July in favor of the “newer” rebuilt station, I wanted to make sure that I was able to photograph a piece of New York City Transit history before it gets riddled in graffiti. Since I wanted to be close to the transit action in Manhattan, I decided to stay at the Morningside Inn, located on 207th St in the Morningside Heights district of Manhattan. The district sits between the Hudson River and the northwest section of Central Park and is just a stone’s throw away from Columbia University. The district also serves as the western terminus for the M60 Select Bus Service line from LaGuardia Airport, and one can easily transfer over to the (1) train via the 103rd St or 110th St (Cathedral Pkwy) stations.

In addition to spending some time with my relatives in NJ again, I made sure to make visits to the Bronx Zoo, the World Trade Center memorial park, and also the New York Transit Museum. I also managed to make two trips to Coney Island (though I did not stay there for very long). Overall, my trip was very enjoyable, even though it was shorter in duration than my 2011 trip (my 2011 trip included six full days whereas my 2017 trip only included three full days). However, I was able to accomplish quite a bit in the course of four days, including the above, plus rides on the (1), (2), (3), (6), (7), (B), (F), (G), (J), (L), (N), (Q), (R), (W), and (Z) trains, plus the 42nd St Shuttle in midtown Manhattan. In addition, I took a ride on five MTA bus lines – the Bx12-SBS, the Q44-SBS, the M60-SBS, the M72 Crosstown, and the M79 Crosstown – as well as a round trip on the PATH Subway between 33rd St and Newport (formerly known as Pavonia-Newport).

If you’d like to see all of the transit lines that I’ve traversed during my three trips to New York, please view the map below. In the coming weeks, I will be putting forth subsequent episodes detailing segments of my 2017 trip and what I was able to observe.

You’ll see in the map that I’ve documented all transit lines that I’ve been on, including ones during my previous two trips. The neat thing about Google Maps is that you can customize the map (through the Google My Maps interface) by drawing lines and such, and then adding in different layers. I especially like the layers because you can show which ones you want to view, so if you only want to view the lines I took during my 2017 trip, you can simply uncheck the boxes for my 1997 and 2011 trips.

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Legalese | Disclosures

Website Updates/Expansion is underway!

During the past couple of weeks, I’ve been planning out my next website update. I’m roughly a year behind on posting PSTA and HART bus photos, there hasn’t been any major website expansion for even longer than that, and there hasn’t been a whole lot in new blog posts either. Truth to be told, I’ve been really busy with other priorities and I am just getting back to being able to tend to the Global Transit Guidebook.

What you will see in the next few weeks will be pretty significant, and some of the changes have already been implemented.

  • Updating of PSTA, HART, MCAT, & SCAT photos.
  • Adding a Northeastern U.S. Transports section, starting off with the New York City MTA and my recent travels to the city.
  • Building the East Central Florida and Florida Panhandle sections.
  • Updating all website graphics so that each page has the same look.

If you hover your cursor over the main navigation bar at the top, you’ll see under the Transports tab, that the NE U.S. section is already there, along with the New York City MTA page. I will add a second subsection regarding New Jersey Transit, the PATH Subway, and the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail later this year. I’ve also updated the navigation graphics on the homepage and Transports page to reflect what you will see on other pages. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns, or would like to contribute material to the site.

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Legalese | Disclosures

HART Network Restructuring – Part 1

You may have heard during the past few months about Hillsborough Area Regional Transit. I’m not talking about the Premium Transit Feasibility Study or OneBusAway; but rather, I’m referring to the planned network restructuring that the agency is currently planning. The massive changes are a part of the normal Transit Development Plan update that HART, and every transit agency throughout the country, is required to perform periodically. Transit Development Plans are put into place to show the public and other government entities throughout the local, state, and federal levels, as to where transit services are now and where they should be in the future. Many factors are taken into consideration when a transit agency performs a TDP update – including demographical changes, funding levels, and vehicle fleet.

HART is currently conducting a system-wide analysis for the first time since the early 2000s and is seeking public feedback on it. The planned changes are aimed at reducing system inefficiencies while improving core service in the more populated sections of Hillsborough County. The re-evaluation comes at a crucial time – when many in the region are still undecided on where our overall transportation network should head towards, overall transit ridership is dropping across the nation due to economic changes and added transportation and work options, a possible reduction in property taxes in 2019, and an uncertain future over federal transit funding due to vastly different priorities between the previous Obama Administration and the current Trump Administration.

What changes are being made?

Much of the HART bus system as it exists today will be radically different. Many low ridership routes will be eliminated in favor of increasing frequency on higher ridership areas. HART Flex services will be reorganized, as will express bus service. HyperLINK services will ultimately get a boost in service, and overall duplication of stops and routes will be reduced. HART is also looking to serve a couple of areas where demand for transit service is high but aren’t being served yet.

You can view all of the planned changes on the HART Website, but I will highlight a few of the most significant changes.

  • Closure of the West Tampa Transfer Center
  • Elimination of Route 2, being replaced by optimized MetroRapid service that will operate on weekends as well.
  • Reorganization of Routes 7 & 30 (including removing Route 30 from the airport loop. Route 30 would eventually serve the new TPA Airport CONRAC facility).
  • Reorganization of Express services.
  • Expansion/Reorganization of HART Flex services.
  • Expansion of HyperLINK services.
  • Implementation of Uber/Lyft Discount Vouchers for late evening and overnight hours (where it is no longer feasible to run regular buses during the late nights with few riders on board).

How can I voice my concerns & questions?

I will be providing my own insight into these changes in Part 2 of this post. However, I want to help get the word out regarding some upcoming public workshops and hearings so that you’ll be in the know.

Public Workshops

Monday, June 19, 2017 (TODAY!!!)
HCC Southshore Campus
551 24th St NE
Ruskin, FL 33570
10:00 am – 12:00 pm
(10:30 presentation)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017
CDC of Tampa
1907 E. Hillsborough Ave #100
Tampa, FL 33610
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
(6:30 presentation)

Thursday, July 6, 2017
Kate Jackson Community Center
821 S. Rome Ave
Tampa, FL 33606
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
(6:30 presentation)

Monday, July 10, 2017
University Area CDC
14013 North 22nd St
Tampa, FL 33613
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
(6:30 presentation)

Additional Outreach Events

Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Marion Transit Center
1211 N. Marion St
Tampa, FL 33602
6:30 am – 8:30 am and 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Wednesday, June 21, 2017
University Area Transit Center
13110 N. 27th St
Tampa, FL 33612
6:30 am – 8:30 am and 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Thursday, June 22, 2017
Northwest Transfer Center
9325 W. Waters Ave
Tampa, FL 33615
6:30 am – 8:30 am and 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Sunday, June 25, 2017
Tampa Outdoor Market – Al Barnes Jr. Park
2902 N 32nd St
Tampa, FL 33605
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Sunday, June 25, 2017
Multicultural Family Day
Water Works Park
1710 N Highland Ave
Tampa, FL 33602
11:00 am – 7:00 pm

Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Marion Transit Center
1211 N. Marion St
Tampa, FL 33602
6:30 am – 8:30 am and 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Wednesday, June 28, 2017
University Area Transit Center
13110 N. 27th St
Tampa, FL 33612
6:30 am – 8:30 am and 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Town ‘N Country Public Library
7606 Paula Drive #120
Tampa, FL 33615
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Thursday, June 29, 2017
West Tampa Transfer Center
4201 N Himes Ave
Tampa, FL 33607
6:30 am – 8:30 am and 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Thursday, July 6, 2017
Westfield- Brandon Transfer Center
459 Brandon Town Center Mall
Brandon, FL 33511
6:30 am – 8:30 am and 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Friday, July 7, 2017
netp@rk Transfer Center
5003 N. 56th St
Tampa, FL 33610
6:30 am – 8:30 am and 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Saturday, July 15, 2017
Hillsborough County Neighborhoods Conference
Sheraton Tampa East
10221 Princess Palm Ave
Tampa, FL 33610
8:00 am – 2:30 pm

Saturday, July 15, 2017
Brandon Mall – Back to School Bash
459 Brandon Town Center Mall
Brandon, FL 33511
10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Formal Public Hearing
Final Opportunity for the public to voice their concerns before the HART Board votes on the changes!!!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017
HART Ybor, 1201 E. 7th Ave
Tampa, FL 33605
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Any questions concerning these community meetings and the public hearing may be directed to HART Service Development, 1201 East 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605, or by email at servdev@goHART.org / HARTinfo Line: (813) 254-4278 / TDD: (813) 626-9158

Special Accommodations:
Any person requiring special accommodations to attend or participate, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act,
should contact HART within at least three (3) business days prior to the meeting at (813) 384-6553.

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Legalese | Disclosures

Hurricane Season 2017

It’s that time again…June 1…the official start of Hurricane Season.

While the Tampa Bay region was largely spared from a major hurricane last year, one of which was Hurricane Matthew, there is no reason to not be prepared for “the big one”. The Tampa Bay region has not been hit with a major hurricane since the 2004 season, when Hurricane Charley – a category 4 storm – nearly missed Tampa head-on and jogged northeastward into Charlotte County, and then towards Orlando. Had the storm remained out along the coast for just a bit longer and struck Tampa, the storm possibly could have reached category 5 status and cause immense damage to all of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. A year later, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina – a category 5 storm – struck the New Orleans region, sending floodwaters into the coastal city and devastating the region for months. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy – a category 3 storm – ravaged the New York City metro region, flooding the city’s subways and ripping apart parts of coastal New Jersey. Katrina and Sandy were to two costliest Atlantic hurricanes in US history.

Many weather experts predict that it will only be a matter of time before Tampa gets hit head-on with a major hurricane of category 4 or 5 status.

So What’s The Forecast?

This season is predicted to be above average, with 11 named storms, 4 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes (category 3 or higher) as forecasted by Colorado State University. Other entities have predicted similar forecasts and when combined, there could be anywhere between 10 and 17 named storms, with 4 to 10 of them becoming hurricanes, and 2 to 5 of them reaching or surpassing category 3 status.

New Forecasting Tools/Maps

Some of you may have heard that some of the forecasting tools that meteorologists have at their disposal this hurricane season will be different than in years past. For instance, the “cone of uncertainty” has changed and new wind prediction maps have been introduced. You’ll be able to see these new tools be deployed by local and national media outlets throughout this hurricane season.

Get Prepared NOW!

Now, I don’t want to give out erroneous information regarding Hurricane preparation. So I’ve left that to the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA, where they have a website dedicated to disaster preparation called Ready.Gov. I strongly encourage you to visit the site and make preparations before it is way too late.

HART & PSTA Emergency Evacuation Service

For those of you who don’t have transportation and may not have friends/relatives that live in non-evacuation zones or out of town (in other words, this is an absolute LAST RESORT); HART and PSTA operate special services during evacuation periods to allow those who have limited evacuation options to be transported to a county-designated shelter.

Please be mindful that once a storm passes, normal bus service will not immediately resume. Emergency crews will need to first assess damage, clear roads, and restore power. Once it is safe enough to put transit vehicles back on the road, core routes will be gradually restored first. These are bus routes that serve major population centers and normally see 10 to 25-minute weekday frequency. Suburban routes will be gradually restored thereafter.

Stay Off The Roads Once A Storm Begins!

Should the Tampa Bay region be hit with a hurricane of any magnitude; once storm conditions begin to affect the area…you need to remain off the roads! High winds can send trees, tree limbs, power lines and poles, and other objects out into the roadways. Flooding becomes a major issue – especially along coastal areas. Vehicles are at great risk of being damaged by winds, flying objects, and flood waters. And above all – your safety, and the safety of your loved ones, could be placed at immense risk. It is simply NOT WORTH IT to be out on the roads once storm conditions have begun affecting the area.

All transit services will be suspended as soon as county officials deem that it is too dangerous to continue running buses.

Additionally, the Florida Highway Patrol has full authority to close down any, if not all five major bridge crossings in the Tampa Bay Area; the Courtney Campbell Causeway, the Bayside Bridge, the Howard Frankland Bridge, the Gandy Bridge, and the Sunshine Skyway. On the Skyway specifically, whenever high winds (anything above 25mph, sustained) are present, the “High Winds” indicator lights will flash as you approach the bridge. FHP will begin shutting down bridges when sustained winds reach 40mph.

Local Hurricane Preparation Resources

Please check with your county/municipality for detailed information on shelters, picking up sandbags, evacuation maps, and more. I have included links for each of the county government websites in the Tampa Bay Area. NOTE: This list does not include individual municipalities. Some municipalities may have specific information for their own residents regarding sandbag pickup locations, etc.

Hurricane Information for Virginia Residents (including the Hampton Roads region)

NOTE: Proper identification/proof of residency (i.e. state-issued driver’s license, utility bills showing address) are required when picking up sandbags.

Be safe out there!

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Legalese | Disclosures

Photo of the Month – June, 2017

Returning from my 2017 New York City Transit Excursion, I present to you this wonderful vantage point of the Coney Island – Stillwell Ave Subway Station. The station serves as the southern terminus for the (D), (F), (N), and (Q) trains, though occasionally,  you’ll see other lines being detoured here. Most recently, the (G) train has been detoured here several times due to maintenance on other tracks that prevent the (F) from serving the station. At one time, the (W) train served the terminal when it served the West End Line. West End service was replaced by the (D) train in 2005.

The original multi-line terminal complex was built back in 1917, though a prior West End terminal sat at the same location since the late 1800s.  Over time, the complex became a crucial transfer point between the numerous subway and bus lines that traversed Coney Island and other parts of the New York City metro region. In 2004, the complex underwent a massive overhaul to restore deteriorating tracks and components, as well as to rebuild the platforms themselves. The original station facade was restored and a sweeping European-style vaulted canopy was constructed across the boarding area. The canopy is equipped with solar panels.

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Memorial Day 2017 Holiday Transit Schedules

Note: Information for the NYC MTA, PATH, Chicago CTA, and Pace have been added.

Memorial Day will be on Monday, May 29, 2017. Memorial Day gives us here in the United States a chance to reflect on the hardworking service of our military members, especially those who have lost their lives while fighting to protect our country’s freedoms.

Like most Federal Holidays, most transit agencies will be running limited services, with some agencies not running services at all. If you plan on using transit on Memorial Day, please plan your day accordingly…and in ahead, as customer service lines may be closed.

Service Schedule Status

Additional Notes:

Some trolleybus routes (Pinellas County) may operate on a schedule other than a Sunday schedule. Please check the transit district’s website for details.

Additional Notes:

NYCMTA Website

NY/NJ PATH Website

NJ Transit Website

Chicago CTA Website

PACE Website (Chicago area suburban bus services)

Metra Website (Chicago area Commuter Rail services)

Additional Notes:

Virginia Beach WAVE Service is currently in operation.

Customer Service

Memorial Day 2016 Z-CustServ1

Memorial Day 2016 Z-CustServ2

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.
  • NYC MTA: Various locations throughout the region.
  • PATH: Most subway stations.
  • Chicago CTA & Pace Bus: Various locations throughout the region via Ventra.

Normal Transit Service Resumption:

Regular weekday transit services will resume on Tuesday, May 30, 2015.


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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PSTA June 4, 2017 Service Changes

On Sunday, June 4, 2017, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) will be enacting scheduling changes to the Central Ave Trolley, as well as Routes 18, 34, 66L, and 67. The most significant changes will be to the trolley and Route 34.

New schedules are available at www.psta.net.

Central Ave Trolley

The Central Ave Trolley (Route 35) will see the following changes to improve efficiency and also allow better connections to the Suncoast Beach Trolley during the week.

Monday through Thursday:
*Streamlined departures (buses will depart every 20 minutes during the day, and every 30 minutes during the evening).
*6:10AM trip from Grand Central will now travel to Pass-A-Grille.
*First AM trip leaving The Pier Parking Lots will now be at 6:05AM.
*10:50PM trip to Downtown St. Pete, will travel all the way to The Pier Parking Lots.

*Streamlined departures (buses will depart every 20 minutes during the day, and every 30 minutes during the evening).
*Last departure to Downtown St. Pete will now be 11:50PM
*Last departure to Pass-A-Grille will now be 10:35PM
*Last departure to 75th Ave/Gulf Blvd will now be 11:05PM

*Streamlined departures (buses will depart every 30 minutes all day).
*6:30AM trip from 75th Ave/Gulf Blvd will be eliminated (unproductive trip).
*Last departure to The Pier Parking Lots will now be at 11:00PM.
*10:10PM round trip from The Pier Parking Lots will still terminate at Grand Central Station on the eastbound return, but will now depart from the lots at 10:15PM.
*After the 10:15PM departure from The Pier Parking Lots, buses will run to 75th Ave/Gulf Blvd only (these departures will be at 10:45PM, 11:15PM, and 11:45PM). Last buses leaving 75th Ave/Gulf Blvd will be 12:05AM and 12:30AM.

*Streamlined departures (buses will depart every 30 minutes all day).
*Last departure to The Pier Parking Lots will now be at 11:00PM.
*10:10PM round trip from The Pier Parking Lots will still terminate at Grand Central Station on the eastbound return, but will now depart from the lots at 10:15PM.

Route 18

*Downtown St. Pete terminating point will now be at 1st Ave N and 6th St N, instead of 1st Ave N and 3rd St
*Last southbound Weekday trip (at 11:05PM) will now terminate in Downtown St. Pete, instead of Seminole City
*Minor running time changes.

Route 34

*Sunday frequency will increase from every 60 minutes (running two buses) to every 50 minutes (running three

Route 66L

*The 5:10AM and 6:15AM southbound departures from Pinellas Ave and Dodecanese Blvd will now start at Tarpon
Ave and Huey Ave (behind Tarpon Mall) at 5:00AM and 6:05AM respectively.
*Timepoint and running time corrections have been made.

Route 67

*Minor running time changes.

For more information regarding the above changes, or to voice any questions or concerns, please contact PSTA at (727)-540-1900, or visit www.psta.net.

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Photo of the Month – May, 2017

imageedit_1_8810661002.jpgOur photo contributor and Social Media moderator John is showcasing this 2003 35-foot New Flyer D35LF transit bus for the May “Photo of the Month”. This bus (out of four total) originally belonged to Capital Metro in Austin, TX as #2028, but is now part of the Community Connector bus fleet in Bangor, ME as #0329. Community Connector has several buses in its fleet that were purchased secondhand – meaning that the buses were retired by one agency and then sold to another for rehabilitation and second revenue service life. Despite the heavy mechanical overhaul that the four buses have received (along with Community Connector’s red exterior livery), the interiors largely retain the Capital Metro styling, including the seats and seat cushions.

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