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.
Now is the time to prepare for Hurricane Season
It’s that time again…June 1…the official start of Hurricane Season. Last year, we saw Hurricane Florence – which pummeled the Carolinas with catastrophic flooding, as well as Hurricane Michael – which devastated a portion of the Florida Panhandle. Michael was also the first Category 5 storm to strike the continental US since Andrew in 1992. 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 this year’s forecast?
This year is projected to be roughly an average season; with 13 named storms, 5 of those becoming hurricanes, and 2 of those exceeding Category 2 strength, 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 Services
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
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!
For our June Showcase photo, we continue our journey across the US. Where to next you ask?
This month, we come back to my original home transit system – Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) in Tampa, FL – to showcase one of its newer additions to the fleet. No, it’s not the swanky new 2019 Gilligs, those will be profiled in a later post. Instead, I’m going to focus on the first batch of secondhand buses that HART has had during the past decade – the 2011 and 2012 40-foot suburban style Gilligs from Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT). Before I jump into the buses themselves, let’s take a glance at the HART system as a whole.
HART began back in 1981 as a countywide replacement to privately-operated service Tampa City Lines – which was originally parented by National City Lines. The agency started with roughly 20 or so local routes and a small handful of “Downtowner” express routes that converged into downtown Tampa. Over time, the system gradually expanded to include major portions of Hillsborough County, including Plant City, Temple Terrace, Carrollwood, & Ruskin.
In 2005 & 2017 respectively, the agency underwent significant service overhauls & optimizations to gradually shift away from the old hub-spoke system & towards a more gridded system that focuses on streetside transfers rather than formal hubs. With the possibility that a new funding source will finally be put to good use, the agency is gearing up for a major expansion over the next decade that would include doubling current bus service & possibly create new multimodal avenues throughout the county.
Currently, HART has roughly 200 buses in its fleet – but should have around 450 or so to effectively serve the needs of Hillsborough. As of May, 2019, 70 of those buses are powered by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), & there are plans to add battery electrics to the fleet in the coming years. In addition to the mainstay fleet, HART has acquired the 8 Gillig buses from Sarasota, as well as 6 Gillig buses from Orlando – marking the second time in 11 years that the agency has purchased secondhand buses.
So how are the ex-SCAT suburbans doing?
On November 13, 2018, #’s 1201X (now 1217) & 1202X (now 1218) were formally transferred to HART. Re-branding of the buses into the HART livery began shortly thereafter, followed by general preparation (installing the HART fareboxes, radios, etc.). 1218’s first day in revenue service with HART was March 5, 2019, with 1217 following suit on March 26, 2019. During the course of May 1 through 3, 2019 – after being delayed due to paperwork issues on SCAT’s end – #’s 1101X through 1106X (to be re-branded as simply 1101 through 1106) were transferred & are currently undergoing re-branding. I predict that these buses will be on the road by the beginning of September, though they could enter revenue service as early as mid August. All of the buses will primarily be assigned to Routes 60LX & 275LX – which serve Tampa International Airport. However, runs on Route 20X have happened & runs on the 360LX are not entirely out of the question either.
For our May Showcase photo, we continue our journey across the US. Where to next you ask?
This month’s destination is Jacksonville, FL, known to many as River City, as the mouth of the St. Johns River is just east of the city center. Jacksonville is among a handful of cities that I know of by which are completely incorporated into the county by which they’re located in. This means that no matter what point you enter Duval County, you also simultaneously enter the Jacksonville city limits. This also means that some services – such as police – operate as a combined countywide entity, rather than having separate municipal and county departments.
In 1988, the residents of Duval passes a gas tax aimed at funding various transportation needs within the county without continuing to rely on tolls. This allowed tolling points along the various tolled bridges and expressways to be eliminated. This, along with other organizational changes over the years allowed the JTA to take on the scope of not just providing public transit services, but also county-level roadway improvements [though some projects involve coordination with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)].
The JTA currently operates the Skyway monorail in Downtown Jacksonville, as well as 30 local bus routes, 7 shuttle bus routes, 4 express bus routes, and the First Coast Flyer BRT Lite network – comprising of 4 lines (one of which is currently under construction). The JTA also operates the St Johns River Ferry, the Clay Community Transportation flex van service, the Gameday Xpress football game shuttle during Jacksonville Jaguars home games, and Paratransit services (Connexion). Additionally, the JTA partners with other entities to provide Connexion Plus (private, same-day, door-to-door service), ReadiRide (on-demand ride-share style service), and the Nassau Express Select van service.
I’ve had the opportunity to visit Jacksonville on several occasions during the past two decades, but more recently, I’ve been able to hop on a few of the JTA local routes, as well as the First Coast Flyer Green, Blue, and Red lines. The Purple Line remains under construction, with a projected opening for some time in 2020. The bus depicted in this month’s photo was on the Blue Line. The JTA’s bus fleet comprises of all Gillig Low Floor models, with some newer buses possessing the BRT Plus styling. While most of the fleet is diesel-powered, there are a few diesel-electric hybrid buses operating. In 2014, JTA began transitioning its fleet to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), with its first batch of buses becoming operational in 2015. There are a total of 94 CNG buses in operation (out of a total of roughly 200 buses), with 43 of them being specifically branded for the FCF system.
Sometimes, you need time to re-focus on more important matters.
As the title implies, I will be taking some time away from publishing new blog posts to re-focus on updating existing content & pages on The Global Transit Guidebook website. This hiatus will begin on Thursday, May 2, 2019 and will end on Friday, June 29, 2019. The only exception to the hiatus will be on Saturday, June 1, 2019, when I will automatically publish my June “Showcase” photo post. Other than that though, there will be no new blog posts during this time.
Today & Friday (April 18, 2019 & April 19, 2019) are set to be very rough, rainy, & windy for much of the southeastern & east coastal US. Today, much of the southeast can expect heavy rain, gusty winds, & the possibility of hail & tornadoes. That threat moves to Florida & the east coast on Friday.
The very nasty weather is all thanks to a passing cold front that has been making its way through the US for the past week. As you get ready for your day, please secure all outdoor furniture & plan your commutes accordingly. Please do not travel unless it is necessary to do so, as there is a possibility of localized flooding, in addition to the above.
Spectrum Bay News 9 Klystron 9 Radar
Time for a vacation…
I would like to take a few moments to inform my readers that I will be on vacation from of April 11, 2019 through 14, 2019. Additionally, I will be largely offline from April 8 through the 10 & also from April 15 through the 17. During this time; website activities will be temporarily suspended, and Social Media activities will be limited. My social media moderators John B. & Jake will be overseeing The Global Transit Guidebook Facebook Page & the Global Transit Guidebook Forum Facebook Group during my time away. Please do not hesitate to reach out to them if you have any questions or concerns.
For our April Showcase photo, we continue our journey across the US. Where to next you ask?
This month’s destination is Toronto, the provincial capitol of Ontario in Canada, and its transit agency – the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). The above photo was contributed by Global Transit Guidebook Forum member Toby R.
Now, if you’ve been following The Global Transit Guidebook for a while now, you’ll notice that this isn’t the first time that a TTC vehicle has appeared on the Showcase rolls. However, the streetcar got airtime last time, so now it’s time for the bus network to shine!
The TTC has been around since the 1920s & operates over 150 bus routes, 10 streetcar lines, & 4 bus routes. In focusing on the bus network this time around, I’ll briefly break down the various bus services that exist within the TTC system, as well as the agency’s bus fleet.
Like any transit agency, the TTC has a network of local bus routes that connect to various parts of the metro region. However, many routes operate in branches (noted by a suffix letter next to the route number) – so some branch routes may serve specific thoroughfares & destinations or have limited stop service, while others may only run limited trips during the day, or seasonal trips. Thus, it’s very important to check the respective route number, map, & schedule to ensure that you board the correct bus. Some routes & branches may operate frequent service – meaning departures are every 10 minutes or better during peak times.
In addition to the local network, the TTC operates a variety of express routes – many serving downtown Toronto, community shuttle routes, & night service routes – operating strategically when streetcar & subway service has ended for the night.
The TTC bus fleet comprises exclusively of either Orion or Nova vehicles – though Orion Bus Industries was later acquired by competitor New Flyer Industries. The agency will pick up new NFI battery electric vehicles later this year – along with a batch of Proterra & BYD battery electric vehicles.
Out with the old & in with the new.
In this month’s Friday Rewind, I take a look back at when Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) began repainting their bus fleet. When I began riding HART in 2006, most of their buses still donned the late 90’s era “HARTline” white with red/blue/green ribbons scheme. The only exception was the 2005 & 2006-series buses which had the same scheme that is used today, but in a purple/gray tone. The latter buses signified the overall transition from the “HARTline” days to the modern era, but that transition – little known to me at the time – was not yet complete.
Here’s what I wrote in my original post back on August 13, 2008.
Some of you may have noticed in recent weeks that many of HART’s buses look like they’re literally going to the dogs. Especially in respects to the exterior paint being scratched away in some areas.
Rest assured; the entire fleet is in good hands. In fact, a couple buses rolled out this week with a fresh coat of paint. The blue, navy, and white livery matches the style of the purple, violet, and white livery that is already seen on Commuter Express buses. However, I assume that HART chose the color scheme to better match the buses to the agency’s logo, which is also navy and blue.The Global Transit Guidebook by HARTride 2012 –
The new livery is only a part of the many changes that HART’s fleet of buses are going through at the present time. You may have read the post regarding the installation of GPS and automated annunciation systems, as well as security cameras, on all buses. Well those systems seem to be fully functional since my last ride on the Route 19 in late July. I don’t know how extensive the GPS system operates, but I’m sure we will be seeing real-time message boards at some transfer centers in the not too distant future, so that patrons will be able to know exactly when the next bus departs.The Global Transit Guidebook by HARTride 2012 –
As mentioned above, other changes were occurring with HART’s fleet at the time, including installation of GPS, surveillance, and automated announcement systems – all of which are still in use but are slated for upgrades in the coming months. There was also a short-lived trial of having LCD screens at the Marion Transit Center that displayed real-time departure information. This project eventually went to the wayside in favor of the OneBusAway app.
Wondering how HART’s livery has evolved over the years? Simply view the gallery below:
It’s that time again…
…time for several transit agencies to enact service changes.
On Sunday, March 24, 2019, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit will be enacting several routing &/or scheduling changes to improve efficiency. The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) will do the same on Monday, April 1, 2019, followed by the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (d.b.a. LYNX) on Sunday, April 28, 2019.
Service changes are summarized below by transit agency:
Hillsborough Area Regional Transit
- Route 7: Running time changes on weekdays to reflect travel patterns.
- Route 14: One-way looping at the northern end of the line will cease. Buses will travel bi-directionally from the Yukon Transfer Center to Florida Ave, Linebaugh Ave, and then down Armenia Ave.
- Route 31: Service along Duncan Rd will cease. Buses will travel along US 301 between Duncan and Bloomingdale Ave, then use Bloomingdale between US 301 & Providence Rd. Southbound running times in SouthShore will also be adjusted.
- Routes 37 & 38: Running time changes during weekday PM rush to reflect travel patterns.
- Route 400 – MetroRapid North-South: Minor routing change in Downtown Tampa. Northbound buses will use Florida Ave instead of Morgan St to approach the Marion Transit Center. There will be no stops added. Customers can use Routes 1 or 19 along Florida Ave to get to the MTC.
Where can I get more information?
On the HART website, or by calling (813)-254-4278.
Jacksonville Transportation Authority
- Route 13: Running time changes.
- Route 15: Running time changes.
- Route 21: Running time changes.
- Route 25: Running time changes.
- Route 32: Southern terminus will shift to Rosa Parks Transit Station in Downtown Jacksonville. Direct service to St. Vincent’s Memorial Hospital in Riverside will cease.
- Route 33: Running time changes. Saturday frequency will change from 1 hour/20 minutes to 1 hour/30 minutes. Routes 32 & 33 will become interlined.
- Route 53: Running time changes.
- Route 84: Running time changes.
- First Coast Flyer Lines (102/Green, 107/Blue, 109/Red): Running time changes.
Where can I get more information?
On the JTA website, or by calling (904) 630-3100.
Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX)
- Route 15: Minor schedule adjustments.
- LYMMO Services (Routes 60, 61, 62, & 63): Route 61 will have a new stop at Amelia St @ Terry Ave. All four LYMMO routes will see frequency & service span changes.
- Route 155: Buses will travel between Greenwald Way & Centerview Blvd via Osceola Pkwy.
- Routes 301 & 304: Minor schedule adjustments.
- Route 407 (FastLink): During the morning peak, trips to Lake Nona will first serve the VA Medical Center. Morning peak inbound trips to Kissimmee will serve Nemours Children’s Hospital and the USTA National Campus. Midday and afternoon peak service will remain unchanged, except for minor schedule adjustments.
- Route 441 (FastLink): Northbound & Southbound trips will begin serving the bus stop on S. Orange Blossom Trl & Centerview Blvd.
- Flex (NeighborLink) Route 613: Zone will be extended northward to include the Park Promenade Plaza.
Where can I get more information?
On the LYNX website, or by calling (407)-841-5969.
Change & Consolidation
At first glance, you’d think it was some sort of April Fool’s joke, but it’s not. Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) announced on March 18, 2019 that they are taking part in an effort by Sarasota County Government to consolidate social media channels into unified accounts. This means that each county department that currently has its own Facebook or Twitter account will discontinue their respective accounts & instead feed information into one of the county’s unified accounts. The aim appears to be to allow residents & tourists a single source to locate information on social media instead of having to jump from one place to another.
As the Facebook post implies, the stand-alone social channels will be rendered inactive on April 1, 2019. I’m guessing that the channels will still be visible for another few weeks thereafter before being taken down entirely. The same message was also posted to SCAT’s Twitter feed.
You may be able to view the above existing feeds for a short period of time after the transition, but expect them to be fully deactivated thereafter. In the event that the accounts become deactivated, please see the listing below for the consolidated channels.