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.
On Sunday, March 26, 2017, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) will enact minor scheduling and running time changes to Routes 5, 7, 12, and 32. On Monday, March 27, changes will be effective on Routes 31, 36, 46, 47LX, 53LX, 57, and 200X.
The most significant changes are that Routes 36 and 46 get a weeknight service boost. Instead of the routes cutting off after 9:00pm, both routes will have trips running as late as 11:00pm. Schedules can be obtained at gohart.org, and printed schedules will be available after March 19, 2017.
Overview of Service Changes
MetroRapid – Minor running time changes.
Route 5 – Minor running time changes on weekends.
Route 7 – Minor running time changes on all service days.
Route 12 – Minor running time changes on all service days.
Route 31 – Minor running time changes.
Route 32 – Minor running time changes on weekends.
Route 36 – Weekday service between Carrollwood and Britton Plaza extended to 11:00pm in both directions. Running times changed.
Route 46 – Weekday service extended to 10:00pm for eastbound and 11:00pm for westbound. Running times changed.
Route 47LX – Minor running time changes.
Route 53LX – Minor running time changes.
Route 57 – Minor running time changes on all service days.
Route 200X – Minor running time changes.
TECOline Streetcar – Morning Service Pilot Project ends on 3/24/17, so schedules will revert back to the prior scheme with some running time changes. Read more about the outcome of the pilot project on HART’s Blog.
What about New Tampa Flex?
For those of you wondering about if and when the planned New Tampa Flex route will launch, unfortunately, the plans are on hold for now. Due to falling ridership across the nation, and possible funding reductions at the state and federal levels, plus a possible shakeup of TBARA and the ongoing controversy around Tampa Bay Express – HART is currently preparing for the grim possibility of enacting across-the-board service cuts come 2019. It’s something that I’ve been fearing for a long time and I hope that key routes will not be cut. However, some lower ridership routes may be re-aligned, merged, or eliminated, and much of the entire HART network as it stands today will radically change over the next few years. Also expect to see some services converted into Flex routes and others into HyperLINK zones.
The March, 2017 “Photo of the Month” is a preserved GM New Look transit bus, taken by photo contributor Dion M.. These buses were introduced by General Motors in 1959 and became a staple in public transit networks throughout the US and Canada through the 1970s and 80s. Many buses remain preserved thanks to various non-profit groups who have committed resources to keeping the history of these buses alive.
At the February 22, 2017 board meeting, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority board voted to purchase two 35-foot battery electric transit buses, plus a charging station from BYD Motors at a cost not to exceed $2,200,000. Nine members voted for the purchase while five voted against. One or two members were not present at the meeting.
The vote to purchase the two buses caps off what has been nearly two years of analysis and discussion within the agency, and between elected and community leaders, and citizens. The move also quells what could have been a very heated debate between environmental advocates who championed the agency to take part in the pilot project and Tea Party conservatives who were insistent that PSTA had broken a prior obligation to revert to purchasing only straight diesel transit bus purchases following the failed Greenlight Pinellas initiative.
The idea of PSTA taking part in an electric bus pilot project surfaced sometime in 2014, but gained momentum in 2015. During the course of mid 2015; four manufacturers were brought in to showcase their vehicles and convey their benefits to PSTA leaders, elected officials, and riders. First was Proterra Inc., followed by BYD, Complete Coach Works, and New Flyer.
In 2016, further analysis and research was done to examine costs and benefits to PSTA, as well as decide whether the investment was well worth it. During this time, there was a lot of misconceptions going around that the initial costs of the purchase would far outweigh the long term benefits of the electric buses, as well as misconceptions that straight diesel buses were a much economical choice over the battery electric buses and even the existing hybrid buses that the agency was purchasing.
In late 2016, the issue was brought up as to how to pay for the charging station, as PSTA only had resources available for the buses themselves. Pinellas County leaders ultimately voted to allocate a portion of settlement money from the 2010 BP oil spill incident in the Gulf of Mexico towards the purchase of the charging station. The City of St. Petersburg has also expressed chipping in funds for the pilot project and ongoing operation of the buses, and Duke Energy has expressed its desire to assist with the project as well.
Concerns regarding the cost of the electric buses and whether it was worth it for the agency to purchase them stirred the five board members who ultimately voted against the move. County Commissioner Brian Scott was specifically concerned about a recent report that came out from the Tampa Bay Times regarding the dire financial limitations on both PSTA and neighboring Hillsborough Area Regional Transit. Tea Party conservative Barbara Haselden, who served as head of No Tax For Tracks Pinellas, voiced criticism towards the board for not following through on what she sees as taxpayer wishes to create an economically sound and efficient transit system by reverting back to only purchasing straight diesel transit buses.
Once the buses are in operation, it is very likely that they will be used as part of an enhanced circulator route in Downtown St. Petersburg. There is currently a study underway to re-evaluate downtown circulator service. The buses will also complement three 35-foot Gillig Low Floor Hybrid Drive BRT style transit buses that are in place for the agency’s 2018 bus fleet order. While no official timeline has been set for the production and delivery of the BYD buses, it is likely that they will arrive sometime in late 2018. The Gillig buses will likely be numbered 18101 through 18103, while the BYD buses will likely be assigned unit numbers 18110 and 18111.
The Photo of the Month for February, 2017 was taken by my photo contributor Jake. He resides in Orange City, FL, which is just west-southwest of Daytona Beach, and has taken many photos of the transit buses in Volusia County, as well as neighboring Seminole and Orange Counties. The transit systems that he has photographed include Volusia County Transit (Votran), the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (d.b.a. LYNX), and SunRail. In addition, Jake often takes photos and videos of various First Responder vehicles. You can check out his YouTube Channel and Flickr Feed when you have a few moments.
The photograph shown here is of one of many LYNX transit buses. Over the past several years, the Gillig Low Floor BRT style transit bus has become the mainstay transit bus for the agency – with their one-piece windshields and sloping front and rear. LYNX has recently been ushering in CNG-powered transit buses, which means that the newer Gillig BRT+ style transit buses began making their debut in 2015. Making their debut in 2016 was a line of New Flyer Xcelsior CNG articulated buses, along with another batch of Gillig Low Floor BRT+ style CNG buses. LYNX also has several Nova LFS artics and two NABI BRT style artics in its fleet.
It’s that time again; time to implement another round of service changes. This time, I was a tad late in posting the January, 2017 changes for Hampton Roads Transit and Volusia County Transit. So I decided to roll in those changes into one blog post with the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s February, 2017 service changes.
This round of changes saw mostly frequency and/or span of service increases for both PSTA and Votran, while HRT saw a round of scheduling and/or routing adjustments and two route eliminations. The biggest change for HRT is the discontinuation of hold requests.
What exactly is a hold request? Let’s say that you’re on the last trip of the evening and need to make a transfer. But the bus that you’re transferring to departs three minutes before the bus that you’re on is scheduled to arrive at the transfer point. Some transit agencies will allow you to place a hold request so that the bus that you’re transferring to will wait a few extra minutes for you to arrive.
With transit agency budgets getting tighter and efficiency improvements becoming more important than ever before, many transit agencies have decided to do away with hold requests to help keep buses running on time. PSTA is one of the transit agencies in West Central Florida that continues to honor hold requests. HART revised its hold request procedures a few years ago to where customers can only place a hold request during the last two trips of the evening, though exceptions may be made during the first trip of the morning.
Hampton Roads Transit (HRT)
Here’s a brief overview of the service changes that took effect for HRT back on January 16, 2017.
- Route 25: Minor scheduling changes were enacted to improve efficiency.
- Route 33: Routing changes were enacted near the Artic Ave & 19th St Transfer Point to improve efficiency. Please see the graphic below for details.
- Route 55: The last three trips departing Greenbriar Mall were adjusted to improve connectivity to other routes at the Robert Hall Transfer Point.
- Route 57: Western terminus adjusted from Sunkist Rd/Airline Blvd. to Airline Blvd. and Quailshire Ln.
- Route 58: The Mains Creek Rd deviation was discontinued. Buses now stay on Libertyville Rd between Mullen Rd & Great Bridge Blvd. Please see the graphic below for details.
- Changes to the Robert Hall Transfer Point: The transfer point was split into two boarding zones to expedite easier and quicker transfers. Zone A serves Routes 14, 55, 57, & 58, while Zone B serves Routes 6 ,13, & 15.
- Route 101: Minor scheduling changes were enacted to improve efficiency.
- Route 107: Scheduling changes were made to improve connectivity other routes at Patrick Henry Mall.
- Route 111: Routing changes were made to the Jefferson Ave segment to where buses travel bi-directionally along Jefferson Ave, Thimble Shoals Blvd, Fishing Point Dr, and City Center Blvd. Northbound buses previously traveled clockwise via Jefferson Ave, City Center Blvd, Fishing Point Blvd, Thimble Shoals Blvd, and then back to Jefferson Ave and City Center Blvd. Please see the graphic below for details.
- Route 968 (Route Elimination): This route was operating on a test basis to evaluate transit service to key employment centers. Unfortunately, it was eliminated due to ultra-low ridership.
- Route 969 (Route Elimination): This route was operating on a test basis to evaluate transit service to key employment centers. Unfortunately, it was eliminated due to ultra-low ridership.
Changes to the HRT Website
Locating bus schedules on www.gohrt.com has changed. All routes are now separated by area (i.e. Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton) with separate pages on the Peninsula Commuter and Metro Area Express routes remaining intact. Previously, you could view a list of northside and southside bus routes without having to go through the area pages.
Volusia County Transit (Votran)
Here’s a brief overview of the service changes that took effect for Votran back on January 24, 2017.
- Route 20: Frequency was increased from hourly service to every 30 minutes Monday through Saturday, interlining with Route 60 was discontinued, and the northern terminus was shifted to the Amelia Ave SuperStop (Transfer Point) by the Northgate Shopping Center. The DeLand WalMart on US Hwy 17 is now only served by southbound trips to the Market Place Transfer Point.
- Routes 21 & 22: Departure times from the Market Place Transfer Point were changed to :25 past the hour to allow quicker transfers between these routes and the improved Route 20. The first trips of the morning on both the 21 & 22 no longer enter Deltona City Center.
- Route 23: Departure times from the Market Place Transfer Center were changed to :20 past the hour.
- Route 33: The SunRail weekday feeder route between DuPont Lakes and the DeBary SunRail station is no longer classified as an express route. Buses will stop at all marked Votran bus stops along the route.
- Routes 40 & 41: Timepoint changes were enacted to alleviate confusion with the Julia St/US Hwy 1 interline point.
- Route 60: Frequency was increased from hourly service to every 30 minutes Monday through Saturday, interlining with Route 20 was discontinued, and the western terminus was shifted to the Amelia Ave SuperStop (Transfer Point) by the Northgate Shopping Center. Customers wishing to visit the WalMart on US 17 will need to transfer to Route 20.
View updated schedules at www.votran.org
Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA)
Here’s a brief overview of the service changes that took effect for PSTA back on February 5, 2017.
- Route 4: Sunday service now ends after 9:00pm, instead of ending after 5:00pm.
- Route 7: Saturday service now ends after 9:00pm, instead of ending after 6:00pm. Sunday service now ends after 8:00pm, instead of ending after 5:00pm.
- Route 11: Sunday service now ends after 6:00pm instead of ending after 4:00pm. Also, Sunday frequency is now hourly throughout the day. Previously, buses ran every two hours throughout the day on Sundays.
- Route 14: Service now ends after 9:00pm Monday through Saturday and after 8:00pm on Sundays. Service previously ended after 8:00pm on weekdays, after 7:00pm on Saturdays, and after 5:00pm on Sundays. Sunday frequency has also increased from every two hours to hourly service.
- Routes 18 & 19: Sunday service now runs through 8:00pm (Route 18) & 9:00pm (Route 19) respectively. Both routes used to end after 5:00pm on Sundays.
- Route 23: Sunday service now ends after 7:00pm, instead of ending after 5:00pm. Sunday frequency has also increased from every two hours to hourly service.
- Route 52: Saturday frequency was increased from hourly service to every 30 minutes.
- Route 59: Saturday frequency was increased from hourly service to every 30 minutes; and weekday service now runs through 11:00pm, instead of ending after 8:00pm.
- Route 61: Minor scheduling changes were enacted to improve efficiency.
- Route 66L: A northbound trip from the Park St Terminal in Clearwater was added, with the bus departing at 6:05am.
- Route 73: Saturday frequency is now hourly throughout the day. Previously, buses ran roughly every two hours throughout the day.
- Route 76: Minor scheduling changes were enacted to improve efficiency.
- Route 78: The last three weekday round trips now depart the Park St Terminal in Clearwater at 6:10pm, 7:25pm, & 8:35pm. These trips previously departed at 5:40pm, 6:55pm, & 8:05pm respectively. Saturday frequency was increased from hourly service to every 30 minutes. Sunday frequency was increased from every hour & 10 minutes to every 35 minutes.
- Route 79: Minor scheduling changes were enacted to improve efficiency.
- Route 98: Whitney Rd deviation was discontinued. Buses now stay on East Bay Dr/Roosevelt Blvd at the US 19 interchange. Those wishing to make transfers to & from the 98 can do so at the stop along Roosevelt Blvd & Dodge St.
- Route 813 – North County Connector – Dunedin/Palm Harbor: Route has been split into two separate routes to allow for better flex service in the Safety Harbor area. The 813 will continue to serve Westfield Countryside, the Dunedin & Palm Harbor areas, & the Palm Harbor WalMart, and departure times have changed to reflect the split.
- Route 814 – North County Connector – Safety Harbor (New Route): The Safety Harbor portion of the 813 is now the 814, serving Westfield Countryside, the Safety Harbor area, & Philippe Park every hour Monday through Saturday. The new route replaces the Safety Harbor Jolley Trolley.
- Jolley Trolley – Safety Harbor Branch (Route Elimination): After a three-year run, the Safety Harbor branch of the Jolley Trolley was eliminated due to funding changes (the city of Safety Habor elected not to continue funding for the trolley beyond 2016).
- New Hours for TD Late Shift: 10:00 p.m. – 6:00 a.m.
View updated schedules at www.psta.net
On Sunday, October 2, 2016; the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) enacted a major revamp of key bus routes with the goal of streamlining service and improving efficiency and reliability throughout the system. These changes include the introduction of four new bus routes and substantial changes to 12 others – including the Jolley Trolley. I was originally going to make three posts in the series, with this post discussing changes made to key central Pinellas routes. However, due to Hurricane Matthew, I’ve decided to combine the two into one post.
Improving Clearwater and Northern Pinellas Service
Various routes in Central and Northern Pinellas were revised to improve system efficiency and eliminate notoriously long runs that caused entire routes to be inefficient. The most radical change was in North Pinellas, where routes in Dunedin, Tarpon Springs, Countryside, and Clearwater were changed.
With almost never-ending construction on Ulmerton Rd, Route 59 was continually bogged down in delays – which in-turn caused the entire route to run inefficiently. To help remedy this problem, the 59 was truncated at the 34th St N Platform, with the southern sections being taken over by Routes 4 and 9. Weekday frequency was also streamlined to include 15-minute peak service with 30-minute midday service (with the exception of a 15-minute “pulse” during the noon hours), and 40 to 45-minute evening service (after 6:00pm). Weekend service was left unchanged due to funding constraints, but February 2017’s service changes will yield 30-minute Saturday service and buses running through 11:00pm on weekdays, 10:00pm on Saturdays, and 9:00pm on Sundays.
Route 60 saw no major changes, but did see adjustments made to running and departure times to improve efficiency.
Route 61 was extended to Westfield Countryside via SR 580 to create an additional option for those wanting to commute between the Countryside, Dunedin, and Clearwater areas. The area around Palm Lake Village continues to be served, but the segment of SR 580 between Pinehurst Rd and County Rd 1 is no longer served, and the north-south portion in Dunedin was re-aligned to Patricia Ave.
Route 62 no longer serves Safety Harbor, and has instead been realigned to operate along SR 580 and McMullen Booth Rd between Westfield Countryside and the Shoppes at Boot Ranch. Service lost from the 62 was compensated via a revised Dunedin/Palm Harbor Connector.
Since the implementation of the Jolley Trolley Coastal Route back in the late 2000s, service along Alt US Hwy 19 has seen duplication of what could be one single service. PSTA and the company operating the Jolley Trolley agreed to combine the resources of the 66 and the Jolley Trolley Coastal Route into one trolley route. The 66 numbering was retained for a limited stop service that would follow the original local 66’s routing between Clearwater and Tarpon Springs, but service only operates during peak hours on weekdays, in addition to the AM and PM runs to the Clearwater Fundamental Middle School when class is in session.
Route 67 was streamlined so that all trips serve the Nielsen Media Research Campus in Oldsmar. The Forest Lakes Blvd segment between Commerce Rd and Tampa Rd was eliminated. Those in the southern portion of the Forest Lakes subdivision can still use the Tampa/Oldsmar Connector.
Route 76 did not see significant changes to its routing or schedule, but an intermittent service area was added in Downtown Clearwater in the event that the route needs to be detoured due to downtown events.
Route 78’s Dunedin portion was re-aligned to serve the Douglas Ave portion of the 61. Scheduling changes were also made.
Changes to the North County Connector
The Tampa/Oldsmar Connector was re-aligned to serve Belcher Rd instead of Countryside Blvd due to demand. Schedules have also been streamlined to where buses now operate every hour on Saturdays, instead of every hour and 15 minutes with the prior route, and buses run a bit later in the day as well.
The Dunedin/Palm Harbor Connector was re-aligned to serve the Safety Harbor/Main St portion of Route 62, while the limited trips to the St. Petersburg College Tarpon Springs Campus was eliminated due to low ridership. Schedules have also been streamlined and buses run a bit later than they used to under the old route.
Starting February 5, 2017, PSTA will enact another round of service changes that will usher in expanded service for many Pinellas routes. This is able to be done thanks to the increase in the millage rate that PSTA receives from property tax revenues.
(Note: All links above have been updated to reflect the new website)
Pirates, and Beads, and Transit…oh my!
Yep, it’s that time again, for the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival! The Parade of the Pirates brings in hundreds of revelers each year, and along with that…tons and tons of roadway closures. So here’s what you need to know if you plan on attending the parade on Saturday, January 28, starting at 2:00pm.
Roadway Closures and Parking Info
On Friday, January 27, the day before the parade (that is TOMORROW as of the publishing of this post), many area roadways will begin to shut down. A complete list of closures has been provided through local media outlets (for this post, I’ve used the News Channel 8 article) and I strongly suggest that you go through this list so that you’re not caught in unnecessary traffic congestion. Because of the parade route and disbursement of the floats at the end of the parade, the Platt, Brorein, and Kennedy bridges will all be closed. That means your only points of egress into downtown Tampa will be the Cass St bridge, the Selmon Expressway, and I-275. If you don’t need to be in downtown Tampa, please do not enter the area! I cannot stress this enough.
For those traveling to Davis Island and Tampa General Hospital, access will be maintained to the island, but the on/off-ramps to/from Bayshore will all be closed. Please be sure to plan ahead for this, as shuttle service may not be available during the parade.
If you plan to park in one of the parking garages in either Downtown Tampa, Channelside, Hyde Park, or Ybor City, please make sure you remember where you parked. Also, keep in mind that many streets will be closed throughout the area. Please also be sure to bring cash, because some lots may only accept cash as payment. Additionally, please be aware that the City of Tampa prohibits parking on some streets.
Escape the parking and traffic hassles, use transit!
Select HART bus routes and the TECOline Streetcar Line will operate on a modified schedule on Saturday, and some bus routes will be detoured due to road closures. I’ll go through a brief rundown of what to expect if you’re using transit to get to and from the parade. For detailed information – including routes that serve the Downtown Tampa area – please visit the HART website, as information can change between now and the day of the parade.
Routes 7, 8, 14, 19, & 30 will be detoured! Please plan your trip accordingly! Below is a listing of how buses will be detoured, along with respective route maps. OneBusAway WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE FOR THE ROUTES AFFECTED, SO PLEASE REFER TO POSTED SCHEDULES FOR DEPARTURE TIMES!!!
- Routes 7 & 14 WILL NOT SERVE CASS ST. Instead, both routes will travel along Palm Ave from N. Boulevard and then follow Tampa St/Scott St into downtown (outbound will use Marion St/Henderson Ave/Florida Ave to Palm Ave).
- Route 8 will be detoured via Nuccio Pkwy & Cass St. The normal route through Channelside and southern Downtown WILL NOT BE SERVED.
- Routes 19 & 30 will be detoured via Howard/Armenia and I-275. The Platt/Cleveland/Brorien/Davis Island segments of Route 19 & the Kennedy Blvd segment of Route 30 east of Armenia/Howard WILL NOT BE SERVED.
- Please make alternate arrangements if you are needing to get to/from Tampa General Hospital, as shuttle service may not be available.
- If you reside in the Town-N-Country area, you can park your car at the Northwest Transfer Center and use Route 30 to connect to the Gasparilla festivities!
- The TECOline Streetcar will run a modified schedule from 8:00am through 1:30am Sunday morning, and will only serve selected stations during selected times of the day. However, the Dick Greco Plaza, Centro Ybor, and Centennial Park stations will be served all day. The Whiting station will be CLOSED all day. Please read carefully through HART’s blog post for a complete listing of stations that will be closed throughout the day.
- Feeder bus shuttles will pick up passengers at the Tampa Port Authority Garage, Dick Greco Plaza, Cumberland Ave, Cadrecha Plaza, and Streetcar Society stations to help get customers between various parking venues and the parade route. Service will commence at 9:30am and run through 7:00pm.
- The In-Towner Saturday Route (Route 97) will operate along its normal route, but will provide frequent service throughout the day. Service will commence at 9:00am and run roughly every 15 to 20 minutes through 7:00pm. Customers may disembark the trolley at stops along Jackson St (inbound to Channelside) or Whiting St (Outbound to Marion Transit Center). OneBusAway tracking will be unavailable.
The Cross-Bay Ferry will NOT OPERATE!!!
For those hoping to hitch a ride on the ferry this Saturday, sorry folks! This is due to US Coast Guard regulations in place during the parade.
And remember, please party responsibly. Don’t drink and drive, and don’t text and drive.
(Note: All links above have been updated to reflect the new website)
You may be reading the title of this post, but that’s not what I’m calling this story. In fact, right now, the story doesn’t have a name – not even a working title. However, I feel that I have put together enough details to be able to bring forth some basic information about the project to my readers.
What is this story about?
First and foremost, this is purely a work of fiction. While it does take place in a real life area, the characters, venues, and many other elements of the story are all fictional, and all of my own creation. There will be some references to present-day events, places, and public figures, but all are done so coincidentally.
The story takes place in the Tampa Bay Area, but primarily St. Petersburg – all set in the year 2066 (later going into 2067). There won’t be flying cars (I don’t see that we’ll be in the Jetsons age that quickly), but vehicles will be automated and a key roadway that many use today won’t be in existence. There will also be a vast bus and monorail system involved, as well as a built-out Brightline intercity rail system, and a wide array of areas for people to take a breath of fresh air at (also known as parks).
The story revolves around a young man named Nathan Tipton. He is a police officer in San Francisco who winds up moving to St. Petersburg with his mom and younger brother (the latter who is also a police officer). While trying to get adjusted to his new life in Florida, he runs into some old friends and adversaries while trying to make new friends and find his forever soulmate. Throughout the story, Nate also encounters a variety of situations with some being harder to deal with than others.
As I continue to put this story together, I will post subsequent updates regarding the characters, venues, and the overall area by which the story takes place in. I don’t want to reveal too much more about the plot so as to not spoil everything.
If you’d like to provide any suggestions for this project, please feel free to contact me through the Contact Form (link is below).
(Note: All links above have been updated to reflect the new website)
After spending 13 non-stop hours at the negotiating table, both leaders at the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1385 were able to reach an agreement Wednesday evening. The agreement – by which details are still yet to be publicly announced – ends months of contention between the two parties as well as a three-day strike by unionized transit workers. Both sides must formally vote for the agreement, but as of now, there does not appear to be any issues that would prevent respective votes from being held.
The RTA has announced through its social media feeds, that regular transit and paratransit services will resume on Friday, January 13, 2017.
(Note: All links above have been updated to reflect the new website)
It’s not too often that I report on transit happenings occurring outside of my coverage areas. However, in extenuating circumstances that could cause long-term impacts upon a transit agency while causing short to mid-term service disruptions – it’s important to know what your options may be if transit services are suddenly not available.
In the Dayton, OH region, many transit customers rely on the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority to provide bus and paratransit services each day. The area’s school district also contracts with the transit agency to provide basic bus service to and from schools. In Florida, most of the respective school districts provide their own busing to transport students to and from school.
During the past several months, a labor dispute has threatened to cripple transit services if left unresolved. Unionized employees have continually alleged that their needs for better pay and benefits have been left ignored by agency management. Despite several efforts to try and negotiate through the situation without incident, those talks have failed.
As of 12-midnight this morning, the unionized GDRTA employees are on strike, leaving regular bus services completely suspended and paratransit services operating at bare minimum levels until further notice. While many have been bracing for the possibility of a widespread service interruption in a worst-case-scenario for some time, other customers were left scrambling for transportation options as of this morning.
How did this happen?
Two key issues by which the unionized GDRTA employees – represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1385 – are demanding that management resolve are pay and medical benefits. Workers state that there has been no pay raise since April 2014 and that they have not been properly compensated for overtime. Additionally, increased costs in health care have prompted the agency to make unpopular changes in their employee’s medical benefits. So far, the two sides have been unable to come to an agreement and the union announced its intent to go on strike in late December of 2016, with January 8th being the “make it, or break it moment”.
What you need to know going forward
There’s no doubt that as the AM rush hour starts to dwindle that many are left stranded, wondering how they’ll get to where they need to go. While the strike is in effect, expect increased traffic as those who have access to a personal vehicle but normally use transit will be on the roads. Additionally, ride sharing and taxi services will be to capacity and a speedy pickup may not be available. While biking, walking, carpooling, and telecommuting may be an option for some, it will not be an option for many others.
For those who rely on paratransit services (also known as Project Mobility), you should contact (937) 425-8300 for further information and scheduling a next-day trip. You can monitor updates through local media outlets and through social media. Frequently Asked Questions are posted to the RTA website.
(Note: All links above have been updated to reflect the new website)