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.
It’s that time again…service changes, service changes, service changes!
In this post, I will outline some of the key changes that are coming to the following transit agencies: Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART), Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (d.b.a. LYNX), SunRail Commuter Rail, & Volusia County Transit (Votran).
Please note that with some of the agencies, further detailed information may not be available immediately as of this posting. Updates will be made when that information becomes available. This post is meant to present a general level overview of some of the key changes that will be enacted during the course of the next two months.
Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA)
PSTA is enacting several map/scheduling/time point changes on Sunday, June 17, 2018, which can be viewed on the PSTA website. The most significant changes however will take place the following day, Monday, June 18, 2018 – when Routes 100X & 300X will be officially re-launched as extended versions of their current selves. This will allow both routes to each serve a key area in the Tampa Bay region that wasn’t previously served by a PSTA express bus route.
- Route 100X – St. Petersburg/Gateway/Tampa Express: Thanks to additional Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Urban Corridor Project funding, the 100X will be extended southward to serve Downtown St. Petersburg via Interstate 275. All existing points (Gateway Mall, Britton Plaza in South Tampa, and Downtown Tampa) will continue to be served as they are today, with the limited trips to the Fidelity National (FIS) complex on Roosevelt Blvd & 16th Ct N being kept. The overall span of service within the existing route will largely remain the same, but adjustments to the schedule have been made to account for the Downtown St. Petersburg leg, thus creating an expansion to the overall span of service when the extension is accounted for.
- The redesigned Route 100X will continue to operate Monday through Friday only, but will have a peak-hour frequency of roughly every 45 to 50 minutes, instead of the current 30 to 60 minute frequency. The midday trips have also been re-timed.
- Buses will originate in Downtown St. Pete, at The Pier District (2nd Ave N, just east of the Sundial Shoppes where the Central Ave Trolley terminates), with the first trip of the morning departing at 4:42am.
- From The Pier District, buses will circulate through the downtown area – serving all designated bus stops along the way – before entering the interstate system via I-375. Buses will then exit I-375 and enter I-275 north, then exiting at 54th Ave N.
- From 54th Ave N, southbound/westbound buses travel along MLK St N while northbound/eastbound buses use 4th St N to enter/exit Gateway Mall.
- From Gateway Mall eastward, the existing routing is used. The last trip from downtown St. Pete will be at 5:42pm.
- Route 300X – Gateway/TPA Airport/Tampa Express (re-branded as the “Airport Express”): With the opening of the bus transfer hub at Tampa International Airport’s Rental Car Center, PSTA began formulating plans to alter Route 300X service while longer term plans for a direct express route from Clearwater Beach to Tampa continue to materialize. FDOT Urban Corridor funding will allow for the 300X to serve the TPA Airport Bus Hub on most trips while maintaining hourly peak service & the limited midday trips. Two trips (one AM eastbound & one PM westbound) will be kept as direct trips between the Ulmerton Rd Park-N-Ride Lot & Downtown Tampa via I-275. The overall span of service will remain largely the same – with a slightly earlier start time & somewhat later end time.
- The redesigned Route 300X will continue to operate Monday through Friday only, with peak frequency changing to operate hourly versus the existing schedule. The midday trips have also been re-timed.
- Buses will continue to originate at the Ulmerton Rd Park-N-Ride Lot on Ulmerton Rd, just east of Starkey Rd. The only major routing change is that most trips will now serve the TPA Airport Bus Hub, where customers from Pinellas can easily transfer to HART Routes 30, 32, 35, 60LX, & 275LX. Future plans also include Pasco Transit launching its own express route from central Pasco County to the bus hub.
- The first eastbound trip of the morning will be at 6:10am, with the last trip being 6:20pm.
- Only the 7:00AM Eastbound trip from the Ulmerton Rd Park-N-Ride Lot & the 4:55PM Westbound trip from HART’s Marion Transit Center will skip the airport. These trips will travel between Downtown Tampa and the Gateway area directly. These trips are being retained as direct trips to/from Downtown Tampa due to concerns from customers who use the existing 300X during the height of rush hour to get to/from work.
- Other Changes: Minor map/scheduling/time point changes will be made to Routes 5, 7, 14, 15, 16, 20, 68, & the Dunedin/Palm Harbor Flex Connector (Route 813).
Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART)
HART will be enacting similar changes to some of its bus routes on Sunday, July 1, 2018, which can be viewed on the HART website (Select the Routes drop-down menu and scroll to the “HART Service Changes – Effective 71/18” section to view maps and schedules). The most significant changes will include the replacement of Route 51LX with Route 275LX, the addition of Route 48 – which restores service to key areas of northeastern Hillsborough that was lost when Route 57 was eliminated in October, 2017, and the elimination of the Downtown Tampa In-Towner Trolley Services due to ultra-low ridership.
- Route 14 – Armenia Ave: Weekday service will be completely re-timed to reflect traffic patterns during the day. Buses will now depart roughly every 30 to 35 minutes. Weekend frequency will remain unchanged.
- Route 48 – Temple Terrace: One of the biggest complaints by far that I’ve seen since the Mission MAX system restructuring was implemented back in October of 2017 was the elimination of Route 57 through Temple Terrace. The 57 was eliminated due to lower ridership & high upkeep costs, but many residents complained that they were left with no avenue to get to work or other destinations in Hillsborough without the route in place. While these residents clamored for HART to revive the 57, the route in its previous form was not going to return due to certain areas having ultra-low ridership levels. However, talks for a replacement service to serve key areas where residents were left with no service begin gaining traction during the late winter of 2017, when Hillsborough County officials began discussing the possibility of additional funding for the transit system. While a recurring funding arrangement failed to be reached, a one-time infusion was agreed upon to provide additional funds for service maintenance and expansion through FY 2018.
- The routing for the 48 will be similar to how the 57 operated, with buses originating at the NetPark Transfer Center on 56th St & Harney Rd. Buses will leave the transfer center going south on 56th to Harney Rd, then 78th St, Temple Terrace Hwy, Davis Rd, Morris Bridge Rd, and then Fowler Ave. The previous segment of the 57 along 56th St and Fletcher Ave will not be served by the 48 due to the 6 already serving those areas. 42nd St & Skipper Rd just north of the USF Tampa campus will also not be served by the 48. Buses will instead continue down Fowler Ave to 30th St, where they will connect to the University Area Transit Center.
- Service will run hourly, with weekday service starting at 5:30AM & running through 9:30PM. Weekend service will pretty much mirror the weekday schedule.
- Routes 51LX/275LX: Due to the continuing decline in ridership of Route 51LX, which runs from Pasco County to Downtown Tampa via Temple Terrace, HART will be eliminating the route entirely & replacing East Pasco to Downtown Tampa Limited Express service with Route 275LX. The 275LX will operate all week long instead of just during weekday peak hours with hourly frequency, plus service to Tampa International Airport. The agency is re-allocating its funds through the FDOT Urban Corridor Project to fund the 275LX service.
- With the 275LX, buses will originate at the Wiregrass Park-N-Ride Lot in Wesley Chapel, then travel down Bruce B. Downs Blvd to the Lowe’s Park-N-Ride Lot near I-75 in Tampa Palms. From there, buses will make a stop at the University Area Transit Center via Bruce B. Downs Blvd, then to Downtown Tampa & the Marion Transit Center via Fowler Ave & I-275. The segment along Bruce B. Downs Blvd & Fowler Ave will essentially restore basic service to areas along these corridors that were lost when Route 45 was re-aligned & Route 57 was eliminated back in October, 2017.
- From the Marion Transit Center, buses will re-enter I-275 and terminate at the Tampa International Airport Bus Hub at the Rental Car Center, with departures synchronizing with Route 60LX so that customers traveling between the airport & downtown can enjoy a roughly 30 minute headway. Service on the 275LX itself will be hourly, with service starting up at approximately 5:10AM & running through about 10:00PM. Two trips will originate at the Marion Transit Center going to Tampa International Airport & the other two will originate at the University Area Transit Center going to Wiregrass. In the evening, trips will stagger to end at either transit center between 9:50PM & 11:00PM. Weekend schedules will basically mirror the weekday schedule.
- In-Towner Services: Due to the continuing decline in ridership, Routes 96 & 97 will be eliminated. Customers wishing to traverse through Downtown Tampa can utilize Routes 1, 8, or 19, with Routes 1 & 19 serving western Downtown & the Riverfront, & Route 8 serving eastern Downtown & the Channelside District. Customers can also use the Downtowner free shuttle service provided by the Tampa-Downtown Partnership. Talks are currently underway as to the possibility of the partnership transferring operation of the shuttle service to HART.
- HyperLINK Service: Despite the initial success of the HyperLINK ride-share type program, various factors – including whether there would be future commitments to run the service by private sector vendors – have prompted HART to end the service. Service in all zones will wind down on July 31, 2018.
- Other Changes: Minor map/scheduling/time point changes will be made to Routes 1, 25LX, 31, 42, & 45.
Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (d.b.a. LYNX) & SunRail Commuter Rail
In anticipation of the opening of Phase II of SunRail from Sand Lake Rd in southern Orlando to Poinciana, LYNX is making key changes to the bus network in Osceola County, along with changes to other routes in the overall network to improve system efficiency.
Despite the May 24, 2018 Board of Directors Meeting being cancelled, the service changes were approved. The original listing of service proposals are available on the LYNX website, with an update to be posted soon. Changes are slated to take effect on Sunday, July 15, 2018. The new SunRail schedule will be posted on the SunRail website as it gets closer to opening day for Phase II.
I will update this post as additional information becomes available.
Volusia County Transit (Votran)
Votran has an odd tendency to not post service changes in a very timely manner. With that said though, I am understanding that two new routes will be launched in around Monday, June 25, 2018. One will be a new fixed route (likely to be designated as Route 25) in the Deltona area, with a second fixed route serving the New Smyrna Beach area (likely to be designated as Route 44).
I will update this post as additional information becomes available.
It’s that time again…June 1…the official start of Hurricane Season.
Last year, we saw several powerful and destructive storms – including Hurricane Irma, which went right up the central spine of Florida. With that said, the time to prepare for the next storm is NOW, as 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 13 named storms, 6 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 16 named storms, with 4 to 9 of them becoming hurricanes, and 2 to 4 of them reaching or surpassing category 3 status.
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.
- Hillsborough County
- Pinellas County
- Pasco County
- Hernando County
- Citrus County
- Manatee County
- Sarasota County
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!
The June “Photo of the Month” is Hillsborough Area Regional Transit bus #1720, which is one of ten 2017-series 40′ Gillig BRT Plus CNG transit buses that the agency received last year. This purchase was made possible thanks to a Federal Transit Administration grant that was awarded to the agency. From what I understand, the agency is trying to apply for the same grant this year to fund additional bus replacements for 2019. Such replacements will allow HART to phase out the aging 2005 and possibly 2006 transit buses – which were brand new when I began riding HART back in 2006. How time sure flies! I miss the new bus smell on the 2005 and 2006-series buses.
Each month, I post a photo to be showcased here on the website, as well as on my Social Media channels. Please feel free to contact me if there is a transit photo that you would like me to showcase as part of my “Photo of the Month” series.
Memorial Day will be on Monday, May 28, 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.
Some trolleybus routes (Pinellas County) may operate on a schedule other than a Sunday schedule. Please check the transit district’s website for details.
PACE Website (Chicago area suburban bus services)
Metra Website (Chicago area Commuter Rail services)
Virginia Beach WAVE Service is currently in operation.
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 29, 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.
May’s “Photo of the Month” showcase is New York City Transit #5618, which is either a 2002 or 2003 New Flyer D60HF articulated transit bus. These buses were originally designated as the D60 prior to the manufacturing of low floor buses and are also known by their nickname, the “Galaxy”. I got to ride one of these buses along the M79 “Crosstown” route in Manhattan prior to its conversion to Select Bus Service (BRT Lite). Upon the conversion, the D60HFs were immediately replaced by newer Nova LFS and New Flyer Xcelsior articulated models.
Like many older transit buses, the D60HF is no longer being manufactured, as New Flyer only produces its Xcelsior low floor line of transit buses. The remaining buses are being replaced by such newer buses, as well as newer model Nove LFS articulated units. It won’t be much longer before there’s only a handful of these buses left in service, so I know of many transit enthusiasts who are trying to get their final batches of photos, videos, and bus rides in before 2018 comes to a close. Like many retired bus fleets in the New York City metro region, I expect one or two (maybe three or four) units to be preserved by the New York Transit Museum and perhaps a few other units preserved by other transit museums.
Post was updated on 5/10/18 at approx. 8:45pm ET
A link to HART’s flyer has been added to the post.
It’s that time again…time for the Tampa Bay Air Fest and all of the awesomeness that it brings! This year’s event will be held on Saturday, May 12, 2018 and Sunday, May 13, 2018.
As with previous events, traffic congestion throughout South Tampa will be very heavy, so you will want to leave early and be prepared to brave the crowds…both at the event and while on the road. If you want to avoid the traffic and parking hassles, I strongly encourage you to use transit to get to and from the event. As with many previous events, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) is partnering with MacDill Air Force Base to provide bus transportation. However, with last year’s Mission MAX system restructuring taking place – Route 4 no longer exists, so HART is instead modifying Route 360LX to operate more frequently during AirFest Weekend.
Scene from one of the previous AirFests. Credit: HARTride 2012
Gates will open at 8:00am, but as in years past, you can expect to see cars lining up as early as 7:00am or earlier. Why sit in traffic and worry about if you’ll even get a parking space when you can leave the driving to HART?
Modified Route 360LX Service.
While the normal Route 360LX operates hourly – with Brandon to South Tampa service operating Monday through Saturday & South Tampa only service on Sundays, the modified service will operate every 15 minutes between the Britton Plaza Shopping Center and MacDill via Downtown Tampa’s Marion Transit Center, with 30 minute service between Britton Plaza and Downtown Tampa. This will provide a convenient and frequent one-seat ride to and from the festivities. Service east of Downtown will operate on an hourly basis, following the normal Saturday schedule. All normal Route 360LX stops north of Britton Plaza will be served, while the stops along Dale Mabry Hwy south of Britton will not. Buses will instead detour via Euclid Ave, MacDill Ave, Shelton Ave, and Bayshore Blvd – entering the Bayshore Gate. Buses will then drop off passengers at a loading/unloading area near Hangar 1.
Please note that the map above is based on the current Route 360LX routing, along with detours enacted during past events. Routing is subject to change due to traffic and security limitations. Map was created by HARTride 2012.
Saturday services between Westfield Brandon and the Marion Transit Center in Downtown Tampa will mirror the normal Saturday schedule with hourly departures. The Downtown to Britton Plaza leg will operate based off of the normal Saturday schedule, but will have the additional runs added in to create a 30-minute headway between the two stops. Because of traffic limitations, HART will do its best to maintain 15-minute frequency south of Britton Plaza and will have extra buses staged for use if needed.
Sunday services will be similar to that of Saturday, but with no service between South Tampa and Brandon outside of event shuttle hours. Event shuttle service will commence at 8:00am on both days, with buses traveling inbound (from Brandon to South Tampa) until roughly 4:00pm. After 4:00pm, service in South Tampa will shift to an outbound mode – meaning that buses will begin travelling northbound/eastbound only towards Downtown and Brandon (with limited southbound trips). Trips may alternate amongst the two destinations and guests should carefully examine the LED signs on the bus to make sure they’re boarding the correct bus to their final destination. The outbound pattern will continue from South Tampa until about 6:00pm. After that time, the additional trips will begin winding down and normal evening services will commence.
All other HART routes (17, 30, 36, & 60LX included) will operate their normal weekend schedules.
Normal HART fares apply for the Route 360LX shuttle, as well as all other HART bus routes. Because of the many constraints involved with AirFest; if you’re considering hopping on the bus, you should purchase your HARTride Farecard or Flamingo App/Card fare in advance. If you choose to pay for your fare on board the bus, you will be asked to pay with cash (exact change please), as there won’t be enough 1-Day Farecards available for issuance on board the bus.
Park-N-Ride? Be Careful!
For those wishing to park their cars in order to catch a HART bus to AirFest, you will need to keep in mind that regular parking fees apply to all Downtown Tampa parking garages and lots that typically charge a fee. Please leave metered street-side parking spaces open and available for those who need to do business in Downtown, and do not park in permit-only lots – as your vehicle will be subjected to towing. Please also do not park your vehicle along residential streets – as once again, your vehicle will be subjected to towing. Residential streets need to be as open as possible to allow First Responders to safely pass through and to allow local residents and their guests room to park.
If you’re parking your vehicle at Britton Plaza or Westfield Brandon Mall, please keep in mind that these are NOT official HART Park-N-Ride lots and are owned by their respective private mall/shopping center owners. While arrangements are in place for AirFest, you should return to your vehicle no later that 9:00pm to prevent your vehicle from being towed. As businesses begin closing down for the night at 9:00pm, any vehicles remaining in either parking lot (aside from employees who are wrapping up their work at the on-site businesses) will be subjected to towing.
Using Ride Share? Take it to the Lot…not the Base…
Many will be enticed to use Uber or Lyft to get from A to B due to the traffic constraints in South Tampa, and while such ride share services can be convenient, they can also get very expensive if one does not know for sure the full extent of the circumstances that AirFest brings to South Tampa traffic. Because of security limitations, all vehicles entering the base to attend AirFest (except HART buses of course) will be required to park in the assigned spaces along the tarmac. Once parked, you will not be able to just whisk your vehicle out of the base to drop someone off – the vehicle will have to stay parked for a few hours. Therefore, you should consider being dropped off either at a location near the intersection of Dale Mabry Hwy and Interbay Blvd and walk to the base from there, or being dropped off at Britton Plaza, Marion Transit Center, or Westfield Brandon to catch a HART bus.
What Not to Bring.
Because MacDill AFB is an active military installation, certain items are prohibited and all guests are subject to airport-style security screening at the event entrance. A full list of prohibited items is available on the AirFest website.
Can you believe that it’s been 10 years since I began blogging about public transit? I sure can’t! It almost seems just like yesterday that I put together The Tampa Transit Utopia Discussion and began to express my feelings and thoughts about public transit in my region and beyond. So what exactly have I done in these past 10 years when it comes to blogging about transit? Well, let’s take a quick look.
Besides all of the blog posts and content pages that you’ve likely seen, I’ve taken a trip to Belgium & France, a trip to Norfolk & Virginia Beach, two trips to New York City, & several trips to Orlando. I’ve also been able to decrease my dependency on a car and take transit much more often than I used to, which allows me to take stress off my aging and increasingly unreliable car. In addition, I’ve been able to utilize a variety of transit modes – including local & express bus, shuttle & flex van, light rail, commuter rail, monorail, funicular, and subway.
You can see in the collage above just some of the buses and trains that I’ve had an opportunity to ride on or at least photograph. I’ve enjoyed many combined rides on board Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART), the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT), Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT), Pasco County Public Transportation (PCPT), SunRail, LYNX, Votran, StarMetro, Hampton Roads Transit (HRT), and many others.
So what is my favorite transit system? Well, that’s a tough one. I would say PSTA is my favorite, with the New York City MTA being a very close second. PSTA is my favorite not only because it’s my home system, but because they’ve been able to make a lot of improvements over the past 10 years – despite the failure of the 2014 Greenlight Pinellas sales tax referendum. The MTA is my second favorite because I was able to get to so many destinations in the New York City region without having to jump into a car – all despite the hardships that commuters face each day on the buses & subway trains.
While HART will always have a place in my heart, I feel that local government is neglecting transportation in Hillsborough County to a point where it’s almost unbearable to use transit there, & it’s really sad that it’s come to this point. When you have too many people who think that transit is only for the poor & disabled & thus don’t think it’s worth it to fund the system unless you’re able to leverage blowing tons of money into interstate highway widening with nonsense toll lanes, it’s really sickening to be honest. Transportation should not be a partisan political football – period, and for that reason, I’ve been able to gradually increase my transit advocacy – including through my No Tax For Tracks Truth Page Presents – Away with Tampa Bay Next Facebook Page.
So what will the next 10 years bring? Well, more transit photos, videos, stories, and other content, as well as more involvement in transit advocacy. I also hope to be able to embark on a few more travels – including round 2 in Europe, round 3 in Tallahassee, round 4 in New York City, as well as possible trips to Miami, Jacksonville, & San Francisco. I also fully intend to keep my site around for at least another 10 years & am trying my best to execute an expansion that I’ve been planning for the past several months. My day job has been quite busy as of late, so it hasn’t allowed me to do as much updating as I would like.
Before I close out this post, I want to say thank you to all of my visitors & group members, as well as all those who have provided support & contributions to my site over the past 10 years. I also want to thank the many members, moderators, & administrators at SkyScraperCity for giving me inspiration to launch what is now The Global Transit Guidebook, & for continuing to support my endeavors along the way! Without your support, I would not be able to do what I do today. Thank you!
After taking a few months hiatus, the “Photo of the Month” showcase is back with Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) bus #1721. This is one of ten 2017 40′ Gillig Low Floor buses that the agency purchased using funds from a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant, adding to a 15-bus order that the agency already placed back in 2016.
Besides continuing HART’s trend of replacing older diesel buses with compressed natural gas (CNG) ones, this fleet (which ranges from #’s 1716 through 1725) was the first to feature the sleek BRT Plus styling that Gillig has provided its customers for the past few years. The Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX), Palm Tran, and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) are the three other Florida transit agencies that have these styled Gillig buses in their fleets.
The Gillig BRT Plus design differs from their regular BRT design in the sense that the sleek roof faring stretches across the entire length of the bus, instead of just having curved front and rear ends.
Ever wanted to take your bike with you when you embark on your transit commute? Well in many cases, you can! Many transit agencies have equipped their buses with bike racks, which allow for easy transport of your bike when going from A to B. Additionally, many transit agencies no longer require you to have a special permit to use this service.
In this episode of Transit 101, I’ll show you how easy it can be to bring your bike with you while riding the bus or train.
Bikes on Buses
As I mentioned a moment ago, many transit agencies have equipped their buses with bike racks. While many agencies use racks that can accommodate two bikes, some agencies use racks that can accommodate three. The way that the racks look may vary based on the supplier that the transit agency uses, but a wide array of bikes can be accommodated regardless of the type of rack used.
Below is a video from the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) illustrating how to use the bike rack on the front of the bus. Before the bus arrives at your stop, be sure to have your proper fare ready and step near the curb with your bike with you. It is a general courtesy to notify the operator of your bike before loading it onto the bike rack of the bus.
When unloading your bike, as illustrated in the video, notify the operator that you’re going to remove the bike from the rack and exit the bus through the front door.
Bikes on Trains
Many transit agencies that operate subway, light rail, or commuter rail systems will also allow customers to bring their bikes with them while on board a train. Specific rules may vary between agencies, including whether an on-board bike rack is available. Generally, older trains will not have on-board bike racks available – so if you’re allowed to take your bike with you, you’ll need to make sure that you hold your bike securely and keep all aisles and doors clear.
Accessing rail lines that do not utilize traditional fare gates or turnstiles are usually not an issue if you have your bike with you. However, accessing systems that do use such mechanisms can be very challenging and intimidating. In these situations, never attempt to lift your bike over a turnstile. Instead, utilize the service swing gate to access the rail platform. Always carry your bike up and down stairways and use elevators when they are available. Do not attempt to carry your bike onto an escalator, as you may wind up easily falling on the moving steps – which can result in serious injury or even death.
If a transit agency staff member or security guard is visible, it is generally advised that you notify them first so that they may assist you in getting your bike to and from the platform area. On older subway systems (like the New York City Subway), some entrances and exits may be configured in a manner by which entering or exiting the platform area with a bike may be impossible (for instance, the station exit only features a full-height revolving gate with metal bars). In these cases, simply proceed to the next available station that has a service swing gate.
While specific rules regarding bikes on transit vehicles may vary between transit agency, below are the general guidelines to follow when taking your bike with you on your transit journey.
In addition to the above, do your best to not create a situation by which you may be denied boarding because your bike is suddenly considered a safety hazard. Always be considerate of those around you and wait for exiting customers to leave the transit vehicle before boarding. Always keep doors and aisles clear, properly secure your bike, and follow instructions given by transit agency staff, security guards, and law enforcement officers. But above all, enjoy your transit journey with your bike close by!
It’s hard to believe that March is just around the corner, and with that comes the rush of college students and families from all across Pinellas County and beyond to enjoy the county’s award-winning beaches. Also along with that, comes a lot of traffic and parking headaches. In this post, I will break down some of the alternatives available to you should you join in on the Spring Break hustle and bustle.
Extra Transportation Options in Clearwater Beach
Let’s first begin in Clearwater Beach, which is extremely popular amongst county residents and visitors alike. In fact, the beach was just named the best beach in the United States by TripAdvisor, based on reader reviews. It’s also one of the most congested beach communities in Pinellas due to the massive amounts of traffic that come across the Memorial Causeway bridge each day during the peak tourist season.
To help alleviate some of the congestion and to promote an alternative option to get to and from Clearwater Beach, the City of Clearwater and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) collaborated last year to provide additional bus trips between the beach and designated park-and-ride lots in downtown Clearwater. While the initiative was considered a success, it was met with many challenges – including where to let customers on and off at once at Clearwater Beach.
For this year, PSTA – along with the City of Clearwater – constructed the Clearwater Beach Transit Center along the westbound lanes of the Memorial Causeway, just east of the Clearwater Beach roundabout. This facility includes a bus pull-in bay that can accommodate up to three transit vehicles, as well as shelters for customers. The PSTA Suncoast Beach Trolley, as well as both Jolley Trolley routes (Beach and Coastal), will serve the facility.
Whether you’re driving into the Clearwater area, or using a PSTA bus route to connect to the trolleys, you can leave the driving to your bus operator and not have to worry about changing lanes or battling other visitors to find a parking space. I will tell you right now that finding parking in Clearwater Beach is extremely difficult during the peak tourist season, and you could be waiting over 15 minutes in some cases just to find a parking space.
For the Spring Break 2018 season, PSTA has created a page on its website where you can learn more about the expanded trolley service and park-and-ride lot locations. Buses will depart the park-and-ride lots every 15 minutes (with PSTA and Jolley Trolley vehicles alternating trips) and customers will be able to park at the lots for free. Once at Clearwater Beach, you will be able to exit at the Clearwater Beach Transit Center and will only need to walk a short distance to get to the powder white sand of the beach, or other nearby shopping and dining destinations.
Anyone who parks their vehicle at one of the designated Park-and-Ride Lots will receive a FREE day pass for use throughout the entire PSTA system.
In addition to the PSTA and Jolley Trolleys, the Clearwater Ferry is also making improvements to handle this year’s Spring Break crowds – by adding boats and boosting its schedule. The service is also planning to execute an expansion to Dunedin, with further plans to expand to other beachside destinations. Fares are $4.00 each way, with discounted fares available for Seniors, active Military members, and children.
Transportation Options to St. Pete Beach
St. Pete Beach is another tourist hotspot during Spring Break, but isn’t as congested as Clearwater Beach. Nonetheless, roadways can get jammed at times and parking can be a hassle. Additionally, roadway construction around Pass-A-Grille is making getting around a headache of its own.
PSTA provides trolley service to St. Pete Beach and Pass-A-Grille via the Central Avenue Trolley. The trolley operates every 20 minutes during the day on weekdays and every 30 minutes during the evening and all day on weekends. Please note that some trips may be delayed or rerouted due to construction in Pass-A-Grille. PSTA is currently exploring the possibility of truncating Central Avenue Trolley service at the Don Cesar Beach Resort stop, and having customers transfer to a shuttle bus or van to complete their trip to Pass-A-Grille.
St. Pete Beach also serves as the southern terminus for the Suncoast Beach Trolley – which departs every 30 minutes. You can catch either trolley at the Gulf Blvd/75th Ave transfer point and quickly get to and from the beaches – whether you’re coming from St. Pete, Clearwater, or somewhere in between.
What if I’m going to another beach?
Most of Pinellas’ award-winning beaches are served by either a PSTA bus or trolley, or the Jolley Trolley lines. The only exceptions are Fort Desoto Park/Beach, Honeymoon Island, Sunset Beach, and Fred Howard Park, as there is no transit service to these destinations. However, bicyclists can ride to these areas without having to venture too far off from a bus route or The Pinellas Trail system.
The Central Avenue Trolley serves the following destinations:
- Pass-A-Grille Beach
- St. Pete Beach (transfer point to the Suncoast Beach Trolley is at 75th Ave @ Gulf Blvd)
- South Pasadena
- Central Avenue Corridor & the historic Grand Central District
- PSTA Grand Central Station
- The Edge (Arts & Entertainment) District
- Downtown St. Petersburg (including Beach Dr, Sundial Shoppes, and The Pier District)
The Suncoast Beach Trolley serves the following destinations:
- St. Pete Beach
- Treasure Island
- Madeira Beach (including the John’s Pass Shopping District & Boardwalk)
- Reddington Beaches (including Reddington Shores)
- Indian Shores
- Indian Rocks Beach
- There are no stops in the Belleair Beach or Belleair Shores areas. Unfortunately, these communities are not very friendly to transit and do not wish to place any funding towards transit service, so thus there are no trolley stops in these communities.
- Sand Key Beach
- Clearwater Beach (including dining and entertainment)
- PSTA Clearwater Beach Transit Center
- Island Estates (early morning trips only)
- PSTA Park St Terminal
- Downtown Clearwater dining and entertainment
- The Jolley Trolley Beach Route serves Island Estates after 10:00am. The route also serves many popular Clearwater Beach destinations throughout the day. Departure times are staggered so that you don’t have to wait too long for either a PSTA Suncoast Beach Trolley or a Jolley Trolley vehicle to arrive if you’re traversing the island.
The Jolley Trolley Coastal Route serves the following destinations:
- Sand Key Beach
- Clearwater Beach (including dining and entertainment)
- PSTA Clearwater Beach Transit Center
- Island Estates
- PSTA Park St Terminal
- Downtown Clearwater dining and entertainment
- Various coastal destinations throughout Dunedin, Ozona, and Tarpon Springs – including the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks.
Regardless of where you venture off to via PSTA, be sure to download the Transit App before you go!
What other transportation options are available?
For those who aren’t using transit to get around, but still don’t want to rent a vehicle, you can utilize Uber and Lyft. Just keep in mind that surge pricing may be in effect during periods of high demand. Taxicab companies will also be busy shutting people around the area.
- United Taxi – (727)-777-7777
- Florida Free Rides – (727) 424-5458 – Free service on Clearwater Beach island, with $10.00 one-way fares to the mainland.
If you’re visiting Downtown St. Petersburg, you can also take advantage of Coast Bike Share. Fees are affordable and there are numerous hubs located throughout the city.
Going to Manatee County?
If you decide to venture into Manatee County during the week, Manatee County Area Transit continues to provide its award-winning Skyway ConneXion bus route (Route 203) with two trips per day, Monday through Friday. A one-way fare is $5.00 (with the intercounty fare being $3.00). A day pass can be purchased on board the bus for $10.00, which can be used on all MCAT bus routes. For more information, please visit the MCAT website.