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.
Getting Essential Workers Where They Need To Go…Safely
Currently, Routes 19, 34, & 52 are operating additional Covid Relief trips during the midday/early PM rush periods due to the continuation of capacity limits on board buses.
Today’s post will go over some basic rules of the road/rail as more people begin to return to some degree of normalcy. This may include using public transit to get to where you need to go for the first time in a long while. I can definitely say that when the worst of the 2020 lockdowns were hitting, I immediately retreated from using public transit in order to allow those who have no other avenue to get to & from where they need to travel – especially those who are unable to work from home.
Recently however, I have embarked on a few essential trips utilizing transit in order to either complete errands or to commute to/from work. My experience using transit during this time has felt much different versus pre-Covid – mainly due to capacity limits on board PSTA buses, as well as other temporary requirements such as mask-wearing.
In this section, I’ll go over some key points that you will need to keep in mind when using transit during the post-Covid period – at least until a vast majority of restrictions are lifted.
In order to avoid any surprises before you leave, please be sure to check your respective transit agency’s website or call their customer service line. Transit agency websites, as well as local, state/provincial, & federal government websites, will have all of the up-to-date information that you need prior to embarking on your essential transit journey. This includes updated transit schedule information.
Many jurisdictions are requiring face masks while on board transit vehicles & while waiting at transit stations. Please be sure that your mask properly covers your mouth & nose at all times. If your commute is rather long, I would suggest that you bring more than one mask just in case.
Trains & buses can crowd up very easily under normal situations & the same can be said for major transit stations. While it is not possible to keep a distance from one another in all situations, please try to do so whenever possible. Many transit agencies have implemented signage & decals at stations & on vehicles to encourage everyone to social distance, with some agencies implementing temporary staggered seating arrangements where every other seat may be taped or roped off.
This one is pretty much a no-brainer, always wash your hands! If soap & water are not available, please use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
The 2020 Covid lockdowns have no doubt caused transit ridership worldwide to plummet. While many riders are gradually returning, many agencies continue to operate using measures to reflect decreased ridership & ongoing efforts to help reduce virus spread. These adjustments may include reduced frequency & routing options, a later start to service &/or an earlier end time, as well as vehicle capacity restrictions. Please be sure to check with your respective transit agency for the latest schedule information before you leave. If needing to schedule alternative ways to get to your final destination, such as ride share, please be sure that you plan those ahead as well.
While efforts to bring forth contactless fare payment options – such as Flamingo Fares in the Tampa Bay, FL region, or OMNY in the New York City, NY region – have been in motion well before Covid hit, using such contactless options are more important than ever before. When available, please use your contactless payment option to pay for your fares while using transit. If such options are not yet available in your area, please consider contacting your transit agency’s customer service line to see how you can purchase transit passes online or over the phone. Please be mindful that some agencies may currently have their physical customer service centers closed to the public.
With many people stressed out & facing uncertain paths ahead, it is more important than ever before to show courtesy to others. Please refrain from engaging in conversation that would be disruptive or disrespectful to others, playing loud music without headphones, & engaging in other questionable or illegal behavior. Also, please show courtesy & respect to transit employees. Remember, they are helping you to get to where you need to go.
Enjoy the big game safely & responsibly
Before I discuss the various transportation options available (besides obviously renting a car), let’s go over how to get from A to B, safely, during these times.
It’s 2021, let’s hit the ground running!
Happy New Year everyone! I hope that your winter holiday was as safe & peaceful as possible. 2020 was very rough for many reasons, & the start of this year wasn’t all that well either. However, with hopefully the worst behind us, we can move ahead with the healing & rebuilding process across the globe.
With the Coronavirus pandemic continuing, I decided to take another hiatus to focus on more pressing obligations – including focusing on a move to another part of St. Petersburg, FL. While I love the Burg, it was time for me to experience different parts of the city that I haven’t experienced in the past. And if you’re wondering, yes, I finally had the opportunity to check out the new Pier! More on that in a future post.
Anyhow, to keep this post short, as you can see – The Guidebook is back, though still in limited form. I’ve been able to implement a new theme, update the About section, add a few new photos to my PSTA subsection, & streamline each page to appear more uniform. As of the publishing of this post, I am slowly rebuilding my HART subsection, which will look similar to the PSTA subsection. The HART main info page is back up at this point, with various subpages to follow.
Once the HART subsection is back up, I will then shift my focus on revamping the Sarasota & Manatee County subsections, followed by Northern Tampa Bay. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I hope to complete this revamp by the end of March so that I can then focus on expansion sections.
Until next time, please be safe.
If needing to use transit during the holiday, please be safe.
Labor Day will be on Monday, September 7, 2020. As always with many major holidays, transit agencies will be operating reduced schedules or may suspend service until the day after. With the Coronavirus pandemic still affecting all of us, it’s important to continue to only use transit avenues for essential trips. Additionally, most agencies are requiring customers to wear masks when on board & staggered seating & other capacity limits may be in effect.
Please Note: I only list selected transit agencies in this post. If your respective area’s transit agency does not appear here, please contact them directly.
As with many holidays, Customer Service centers may be closed or operate reduced hours on Labor Day. Please check with your respective transit agency for hours.
Regular transit services will resume on Tuesday, September 8, 2020. Please keep in mind that Covid-19 related service modifications will remain in place until further notice.
This post was last updated on 05/09/2020.
While the world has prevailed through past massive health crises such as chickenpox, swine flu, & SARS, the current epidemic with the Coronavirus has been taking hold in a way that prior crises have not. Throughout many parts of the globe; venues are closing, events are being cancelled or postponed, & yes – parts of the global transportation sector have been forced to either significantly alter the way things are done – or shut down entirely.
At this time, all blog posts & social media activities have been suspended until further notice. Additionally, the following changes to the site have been enacted:
In the meantime, please be cautious of the abundance of misinformation out in the media – including on social media outlets. Follow only reliable sources & advice. But above all – please, wash your hands! That’s one of the most simplest things we can do to help slow the spread of communicable illnesses such as this.
In my final installment of Transit 101, I will discuss what to do if you happen to leave an item on board a bus or train. I personally know how frustrating it is to realize that you’ve left something on board the bus or train during your journey – as I’ve left my bike on a HART bus & a PSTA bus, each on separate occasions.
If ever that you leave an item on board the bus or train, immediately contact the transit agency’s customer service line & press the option to speak with a live representative. If it is after business hours, call the agency at your first opportunity on the next business day. Please be mindful that while most transit agencies have weekend hours for telephone customer service, not all do.
When speaking to the customer service representative, please provide as much information as possible about the item that you left, as well as the specific trip that you were on. It is very helpful to the representative if you’ve noted the following about your trip so that customer service can communicate the information to the lost & found department in checking if something was turned in or not.
In some cases – depending on the agency – you can also report your lost item in person to a station agent, transit ambassador, or transit supervisor. Some agencies also have an online reporting form that you can use.
While most transit agencies have one, unified location for lost & found operations, it may take a few days for the item to be transferred over to the lost & found department – especially if you’re using a larger system like the New York MTA. You can periodically check back in with customer service via phone or physically visit the lost & found department location to see if your item was turned in or not. In some cases, the agency may contact you directly if they find that the item turned in matches your initial description.
When it has been confirmed that your item has been turned into the lost & found department, be sure that you take down any specific instructions as to where you can retrieve your item. From there, proceed to the lost & found department location provided. Once there, you will be asked to present your government-issued ID & confirm the item’s description to ensure that it is indeed your item. Once everything has been confirmed, the staff member will hand you back the item.
Keep in mind that each transit agency may have different procedures in respects to how long they can hold items in lost & found. Many agencies tend to have a 60 to 90 day policy, but you should contact the agency directly or check their website for details. Once the holding window has passed, the agency will typically auction or donate the items off. Items in poor condition may be disposed of.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my Transit 101 series & have been able to get some helpful tips out of it. For those of you who may still be intimidated about riding public transit, some transit agencies offer complementary travel training programs to help assist first time transit riders.
Such programs will allow the rider to schedule an appointment with the transit agency & have a special transit agency staff member meet with the rider. The rider will then have a chance to learn how the system works, how to read a transit schedule, pay fares, make transfers, & ask the staff member any other questions that he or she may have about the system. Such programs are provided at no added cost to the rider & the transit agency offering the program will generally provide the first ride completely free.
When making your appointment with the transit agency, you will want to have a specific destination in mind – such a place of employment, school/university, or major point of interest (i.e. museums, zoos, etc.).
The following transit agencies that I am aware of, provide complementary travel training programs. If you’re unsure as to whether yours does, please contact them directly.
Can I make my transfer on time?
In this episode of Transit 101, I will be briefly discussing how to make transfers. Making transfers from one bus or rail route to another can sometimes be intimidating. However, it’s very important that you know what to do in order to make vital connections possible.
The first type of transfer is a parallel transfer. These are the easiest transfers to make because they do not always involve you having to cross a street – especially if multiple routes (regardless of direction) all serve the same stop at once.
The above photo is of one of several regular Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) bus stops by which you can easily make a parallel transfer to a variety of routes. This particular stop is #5281 along FL State Road 580 by Summerdale Dr (along the northern perimeter of Westfield Countryside Mall). All of the bus stops that surround the mall allow customers to make a parallel transfer to at least three other bus routes because buses are required to travel in a clockwise pattern in this area.
To make a parallel transfer, simply exit the bus or train at the stop or station, then wait for the next vehicle of your choice to arrive. Please always keep your distance away from the edge of the boarding platform & allow arriving customers to exit the vehicle first before boarding.
In cases where you may need to cross a street or platform to make your parallel transfer, please use extra caution. Follow applicable signage & if needing to cross a street – use a crosswalk if possible.
The second type of transfer is a perpendicular transfer. This is where you would transfer from one service that intersects another. This type of transfer can be challenging because it requires customers to pay closer attention to where they’re going in order to make that transfer happen. In some cases, bus stops & rail platforms might not necessarily line up with each other, so it’s very important to follow applicable signage or use a map to help locate your particular transfer stop.
In the above graphic, I illustrate a fictional city that has many bus lines, as well as a few light rail & subway lines. In this type of scenario, it can be tricky to make a transfer – let’s say between bus route 7 & bus route 9 because the stops don’t necessarily line up as opposed to the transfer between bus route 7 & bus route 36. The reason why some bus stops may not line up as well as others at certain intersections is due to situations by which placing a bus stop could create a very unsafe environment – such as turn lanes, rail lines, trees, & other unmovable obstructions. So in some situations, you may need to walk a bit farther to connect to your next route.
Major transfer points, like a transit center – serving multiple bus &/or rail lines – can bring forth a lot of convenience, but also a lot of confusion for first-time riders. It is very important here to examine station maps & signage to ensure that you are traveling to the correct route. Additionally, construction & other happenings may cause normal boarding locations to change or be skipped by some services. So in the event of such, you will need to be prepared to alter your commute if necessary.
One such example is the construction project at the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) Marion Transit Center in Tampa. Each of the bus bays are being reconstructed due to the bricks and concrete being worn out after many years. This construction has prompted the agency to re-assign bus staging throughout the complex.
When making transfers, please bear in mind that some transit agencies charge a separate “Transfer Fee” to make transfers. You will want to check with your respective transit agency before embarking on your trip. In many cases, transfer fees will not apply if you are using an all-day pass, weekly pass, or monthly pass.
Happy 2020! Our February Showcase photo is here!
For this month’s photo, I held a quarterly contest in the Global Transit Guidebook Forum Facebook Group. Despite there being a few member submissions, my own contribution won out.
So with that being said, we return back to the Tampa Bay region & profile Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) # 1104, which was one of eight buses that the agency acquired from Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT). # 1104 entered revenue service on 10/07/2019 & has been on normal assignment on Routes 60LX or 275LX since. On occasion, it will be assigned to Routes 17, 20X, 24LX, 25LX, or 360LX.
If you’d like to see your transit-related photo featured in the future, please select the Contact link below, or join The Global Transit Guidebook Forum Facebook Group.
Pirates, & Beads, & Transit…oh my!
Post was updated on 01/24/2020
Yep, it’s that time again, for the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival! The Parade of the Pirates brings in hundreds of revelers each year, & 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 25, starting at 2:00pm.Read More