By now, you most likely have heard about the horrible incident that occurred near the historic French Quarter in New Orleans, LA. The Hard Rock Hotel, which was under construction, partially collapsed – leaving many injured, as well as claiming at least one or two lives. Our thoughts & prayers go out to all those affected by this incident & their families.
What to expect if using transit in the area.
Due to numerous streets surrounding the hotel site being closed off, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority has detoured bus routes that would typically traverse these affected streets. Additionally, the Riverfront & Rampart – St. Claude Streetcar Lines have been suspended in their entirety while the Canal Streetcar has been partially suspended. Bus substitutions will be in effect during these closures.
Previously, affected Central Business District bus routes have been congregating at the NORTA headquarters at 2817 Canal St. Since 10/23/19, temporary transfer hub operations have shifted to Duncan Plaza at 343 Loyola Ave. This second shift was supposed to occur on 10/19/19, but due to difficulties caused by the demolition of the cranes surrounding the Hard Rock site, the move was postponed.
Customers should expect longer than normal travel times as a result. The RTA will be dispatching additional staff to help assist customers in getting to where they need to go. For further information, please contact the New Orleans RTA.
Our September Showcase photo came in a bit late here on the website due to some personal obligations. However, it’s better late than never that I get this next post up, so…with that, we continue our journey across the US. Where to next you ask?
This month, we travel back to the New York City region. But once again, we’re not focusing on the New York MTA. Instead, we’re shifting to the transit agency that operates immediately north of the Bronx – which is Westchester County & Westchester Transportation, known as the Bee Line. The Bee Line is owned by the Westchester County Department of Public Works and Transportation, though services are contracted out to Liberty Lines Transit and PTLA Enterprise.
The Bee Line operates over 40 bus routes spanning Yonkers, White Plains, New Rochelle, Hartsdale, Hawthorne, Peekskill, Pleasantville, and many other communities within Westchester County, as well as southeastern Putnam County. Additionally, some bus routes in the southern & central county extend down to the Bronx – allowing customers a seamless connection between the Bee Line system & the MTA system. These routes are in addition to the White Plains to Midtown Manhattan Express – Route 28, which is coded as the BxM4C to match the MTA style of route numbering. Also, the Bee Line honors the MTA MetroCard & is on track to adopt the new OMNY tap-&-go fare payment system by 2022.
Bee Line’s fleet comprises of mostly Orion V units – like the one pictured above. However, with Orion no longer in existence, the agency made its first New Flyer Xcelsior purchase in 2018 – with a batch of hybrid articulated buses. It is likely that more New Flyer Xcelsiors will gradually replace the aging lineup of Orion, Neoplan, & North American Bus Industries (NABI) buses – all of the latter having gone out of business in the past two decades.
Want to see your photo featured?
This month’s Showcase photo was courtesy of The Global Transit Guidebook Forum member G.D.W.
Within many transit agencies, you’re often times going to find some sort of artistic display catching your eye – whether it be a mural at a transit station, a neatly decorated bus stop, or a special vehicle wrap. In the case at Hillsborough Area Regional Transit, it’s the vehicle wrap that catches the eye.
Thanks to a partnership between HART & the Tampa Bay Foundation for Architecture & Design (TBFAD), the Art on HART program was launched, allowing one of the transit agency’s buses to be transformed into a moving artistic canvas for a year. For the inaugural 2019 selection, bus #1018 featured a wrapping called Soundwaves, which depicted a variety of individuals playing various musical instruments in front of a festive background that included the downtown Tampa skyline. It was truly a beautiful wrap & I had hoped to be able to catch the bus myself – & almost did too.
As of Tuesday, September 17, 2019, HART & TBFAD officially opened up the process to allow interested artists to convey their desire to participate in the 2020 selection. HART’s In Transit blog has more information on how to do just that. Entries will be accepted up until Friday, November 15, 2019 @ 5:00pm ET.
Quick Note (Off-Route)
Some of my readers may have heard of the horrific events that unfolded on May 18, 2019 & understand that seeing the various photography of bus # 1018 may revive unpleasant memories of what happened that day. I was actually en-route to Hillsborough from Pinellas when the incident that claimed the life of HART bus operator Thomas Dunn occurred. As I rode HART Route 35 from the Northwest Transfer Center to the Tampa International Airport bus hub, I noticed that the two 2012-series buses that HART acquired from Sarasota County Area Transit (#’s 1217 & 1218 – both operating on Route 275LX) were swapped out for 2013-series buses.
My original plan was to take either 1217 or 1218 to Marion Transit Center & catch 1018 on the MetroRapid route from there. When the bus swap out occurred, something told me to abandon my plans to hop on MetroRapid & instead head to Britton Plaza. Thus, I did just that, catching a Route 30 bus to the intersection of Dale Mabry Hwy & Kennedy Blvd, where I then caught a Route 36 bus to Britton, then a Route 17 bus to my final destination. It was not until that evening that I had heard about the incident on the MetroRapid route.
Mr. Dunn was assigned # 1018 for his final run down the MetroRapid route on Nebraska Ave when the incident happened. Based on what I’ve understood from several HART staff members, # 1018 was not put out to service anymore following the incident. The bus was completely stripped of its electronics (radio, surveillance cameras, farebox, etc.) & the Soundwaves wrapping. The bus was then repainted & eventually put up for auction.
In reading HART’s blog post about the 2020 Art on HART selection process, I noticed that they laid out a specific theme.
This year’s theme touches on how music influences the world around us while encouraging respect for others. Artists are encouraged to incorporate Tampa Bay’s wide diversity of design, architecture, and musical culture into their submission.
HART In Transit blog.
Seeing this theme noted in the post really stuck out because it conveys to everyone that the horrible incident has not been forgotten & that we all need to continue what we can do to be respectful to others while using public transportation. At the same time, the theme allows for the continuation to express the utmost artistic & musical talent, as well as the wide variety of architecture & design elements that exists in our region. In my eyes, this theme is bound to produce something visually stunning while bringing the main messages home.
Our September Showcase photo came in a bit late here on the website due to some personal obligations. However, it’s better late than never that I get this next post up, so…with that, we continue our journey across the US. Where to next you ask?
LYNX operates roughly 85 bus routes throughout Orange, Osceola, & Seminole Counties, as well as a paratransit service called Access LYNX, & a flex-route neighborhood connector service called NeighborLink. Additionally, the agency operates limited-stop routes called FastLink & a Bus Rapid Transit style circulator system in Orlando called LYMMO. LYNX routes are commonly referred to as Links & the agency’s mascot is the lynx.
LYNX’s bus fleet mostly comprises of 40′ Gillig Low Floor buses with the BRT styling. However, there are several articulated bus fleets that operate on busier routes like the 8 & 50. These articulated buses include 2013 & 2014-series Nova Low Floor Series (LFS), as well as 2016 & 2019 New Flyer Xcelsiors. The above photo is of 2016 NFI XN60 (CNG) #226-616.
Like many transit agencies across the nation, LYNX is unable to provide as much service as it would like due to funding constraints. There is currently talk of holding a transportation sales tax referendum to help fund LYNX & SunRail service in Orange County, but it isn’t clear as to whether this will indeed be pursued.
Monday, September 2, 2018 is Labor Day and many transit agencies will be running limited service, with some agencies not operating at all. As always, please see the listing below to see what level of service that each transit district will operate.
Below are the normal Labor Day service levels for Florida. Please keep in mind that Dorian may affect service this weekend, especially on the east coast. Please monitor local news reports for the latest. You can also read my blog post on Dorian, as updates will be made in respects to transit service suspensions & restorations.
TECOline Streetcar (Tampa)
SCAT (Space Coast/Brevard County)
PSTA (St. Pete/Clearwater)
Routes 416 & 427 will not operate, as they are funded by Citrus Connection (Polk County)
BCT (Broward County)
DTPW (Miami-Dade County)
Votran (Daytona Beach)
Routes 1, 3, 4, 10, 15, & 17 will operate a Sunday schedule.
MTA Commuter Rail, NJT Bus & Rail Services: Varies
MBTA (Boston, MA): Sunday (Ferry line F1 will not run)
PVTA (Pioneer Valley, MA): Sunday
FRTA (Franklin County, MA): No Service
MVRTA (Merrimack Valley, MA): No Service
LRTA (Lowell, MA): No Service
CCRTA (Cape Cod, MA): Normal service, except flex & hospital trips – which will not operate.
Portland, ME Metro: No Service
South Portland, ME: No Service
Bangor, ME Community Connector: No Service
CityLink (Lewiston, ME): No Service
Chicago CTA: Sunday
Pace Bus: Sunday
Corpus Christi RTA (Corpus Christi, TX): Sunday
Capital Metro Austin (Austin, TX): Sunday, No MetroRail, UT Service, Night Owl, E-Bus or MetroExpress services.
Normal Transit Service Resumption
With the exception of those transit agencies that will be directly impacted by Hurricane Dorian, normal transit services will resume on Tuesday, September 3, 2019. For impacted agencies, please follow local media outlets.
While I’ve done my best to ensure accuracy, the listed information ultimately comes from the transit agencies themselves. If you spot an error, please let me know as soon as possible so that I can correct it.
Post was last updated on 09/10/2019 @ 9:35am EDT. This was the final update made.
Dorian was declared as an extratropical system on 09/07/2019 and continues to move east, northeast across the eastern Canadian maritimes (Nova Scotia & Newfoundland). As the storm enters the northern Atlantic, it is expected to be downgraded to an extratropical storm, then eventually dissipate.
Below is the 5:00am advisory information from the National Weather Service. This will be the final storm update that I share with my readers on Dorian.
As of 9:00am EDT on 09/08/2019, we’ve exited full #StormMode. However, we will remain in partial #StormMode (meaning that we’ll continually monitor weather conditions & see if there’s any further tropical developments that could impact the US, while resuming normal website & social media activities) through the end of Hurricane Season, which is 11/30/2019.
Transit System Updates
At this time, all affected transit agencies (to the best of my knowledge) have restored transit services.
While creating my last couple of blog posts, I noticed that WordPress rolled out a few new editing blocks for me to insert. I’ve created this testing post so that I could try them out & see how I can incorporate some of these new features into future blog posts & page updates.
Okay, so the first CoBlock I inserted is one with a few buttons. You’re limited to four buttons per block, but it’s not necessarily bad. I’ve been able to modify the above setting so that there is adequate spacing between rows, otherwise, the layout looks very awkward.
The links that are connected to each button actually do work – they link to the respective pages on my Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority subsection. Since this new feature is available, I am considering replacing many of my graphical “buttons” with these.
Let’s check out some other things that I haven’t used
It’s honestly been a while since I’ve scrolled through all of the editing blocks that are available in the newer WordPress editing interface, & I’ve noticed a few that I previously did not see. Let’s check those blocks out now.
Videos with a caption sidebar. Nice!
The above block allows me to insert a photo or video & then do a quick write-up on the side – such by which would be longer in length than a normal underneath caption.
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… Read more
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… Read more
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… Read more
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… Read more
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… Read more
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… Read more
It’s time for students to return to school – & the school buses to hit the roads once again.
Well folks! It’s that time again! Time for many people to head back to school! & whether you’re a college student attending one of the local colleges or universities, or a parent trying to get some last minute school supply shopping done for your children, it is always important to know that with the school year starting back up, you can expect increased traffic on the roads. & yes, that includes those big yellow school buses!
In this Back to School Edition blog post, I will be highlighting the importance of school bus safety, because often times, we see accidents that involve a school bus. All 50 states in the US have laws that revolve around school buses, specifically laws that make it illegal to pass a school bus when it is stopped (and its red lights are flashing & signs are extended out). Sadly, there are too many incidents by which vehicles pass a stopped school bus as it is loading or unloading passengers, and some of those incidents have involved fatalities or serious injury.
Below, is a classic example of motorists not doing what they’re required to do. FOX 13 (WTVT) reported on this matter, along with several other local media outlets, in Port Richey, FL in 2018. Things got so bad along this portion of US Hwy 19 (which is already a massively busy highway to begin with) that the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office has to step in & hand out citations to the violators.
As always, I wish everyone that is headed back to the classroom a safe and wonderful school year!
Our August Showcase photo came in a bit late here on the website due to some personal obligations. However, it’s better late than never that I get this next post up, so…with that, we continue our journey across the US. Where to next you ask?
This month, we travel back to the Tampa Bay area to visit my current home transit system – the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA).
PSTA was established in 1982, when the St. Petersburg Municipal Transit System & the Central Pinellas Transit Authority merged to create one unified, countywide entity. PSTA currently operates roughly 40 bus routes with roughly 200 transit vehicles. The agency also provides support to the St. Petersburg Downtown Trolley (a.k.a. the “Looper”), the Clearwater Jolley Trolley, & participates in several different mobility partnerships across Pinellas County.
While PSTA does its best to provide efficient service throughout Pinellas, the agency has been dealing with many financial constraints that limits its potential. This problem is echoed by many transit agencies across the nation & is not expected to get much better unless new long-term funding sources are opened.
The photo above is of one of PSTA’s newest buses, # 19102, which is a 2019 35-foot Gillig Low Floor hybrid with the BRT style front. PSTA has gained a total of 20 transit buses & 8 cutaway vans during the past two years that have allowed the agency to rid itself of all of its 2001 & 2002-era buses, as well as a few of the worst performing 2008-series buses.
Next year’s bus order is slated to be rather large as well – with 19 replacement replica trolley buses to replace the aging 2007, 2008, & 2009 models, as well as roughly 15 more buses for the planned Central Ave BRT project. Additionally, there may be a provision – depending on funding – for up to 10 additional regular service buses. So thus, PSTA may very well be able to order a total of 44 buses.
In this episode of Transit 101, I will explain how to get from A to B via rail. If you’re riding a passenger rail system for the first time, you may be intimidated. Don’t worry though, it’s not as hard as you may think. However, there’s a few key things you’ll want to follow before heading out to the rail station.
Have your origin & destination stops in mind. Or at least the closest landmarks or other points of interest that will help you get to where you need to go. Need to plan out your trip? Check out Episode 1.
Allow enough time for departure & arrival. Ideally, you’ll want to get to your origin rail station no later than 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure. If your transit agency has a real-time transit tracker application, this can certainly help with knowing approximately what time your train will arrive. Need help with understanding a transit schedule? Check out Episode 2.
Have your fare ready. Unlike bus systems, rail systems will require that you have some form of purchased fare media ready – whether it be a pre-purchased mag-swipe card, tap-and-go card, or mobile fare payment application. Need to know more about transit fares? Check out Episode 3.
Heading to the origin rail station
Once you’ve been able to locate your starting train route & where the nearest station for that route & direction are located, you’ll want to leave promptly when it is time to do so in order to allow enough time to catch the train. If you’re having to use a bus route or two to reach your respective rail station, you will need to account for the time needed to get to the origin bus stop, travel time, & any transfers you’ll need to make, as well as weather conditions.
Also be mindful that not all rail systems will allow you to bring your bike with you – especially during peak times, so be sure to check with your respective transit agency as to what their policy is regarding bringing your bike with you on the train. Just like getting to a bus stop, weather conditions & other unforseen circumstances may make your journey more difficult.
Need to use the bus to connect to your train? Check out Episode 4.
Arriving at the rail station
Because many rail stations are uniquely constructed, identifying them can sometimes be more of a challenge than locating a bus stop. Even more confusing sometimes, is locating where the exact entrance is. Light rail, streetcar, commuter/suburban rail, intercity rail, & elevated subway/metro stations often have easily identifiable station entrances. With underground subway/metro stations though, some entrances can be obscured within existing buildings.
Once you’ve identified where the station entrance is, be sure to have your fare media ready to validate at the turnstile or validator machine. Virtually all subway/metro systems & some commuter/suburban rail systems have controlled access, where you must pass through traditional turnstiles with valid fare media before you can access the train platform. Other commuter/suburban rail systems, intercity rail systems, & streetcar/light rail systems typically have more of an open access protocol, where you are basically freely able to walk onto the train platform without encountering a turnstile or other gated access. However, you must still have valid fare media with you at all times – as transit agencies typically employ staff members who are required to check that your fare media is indeed valid.
While many rail stations have the option of purchasing fare media from a staffed booth on-site, many also have ticket vending machines where fare media can be purchased. Many transit agencies allow you to purchase transit passes/cards online & are also adopting mobile fare payment apps. Additionally, contactless bank cards are being adopted as an additional avenue to pay transit fares without having to have separate media in hand.
Once you’ve ensured that your valid fare media is ready, it’s time to proceed to the train platform. Just like riding the bus system, riding the train system can be challenging if you don’t know which platform your train will arrive on. Virtually all rail stations have signage of some sort to help lead you in the right direction – including which track & platform you’ll need to proceed to. If you’re traversing through a complex rail station with multiple lines & services, it’s extremely important that you follow the signs to the correct concourse by which your particular rail line will board at.
Waiting for the train to arrive
Once you’ve located the correct platform and track by which your train is set to arrive at, be sure to stand clear of the platform edge, as failing to do so can result in serious injury or even death (that’s not a joke folks). The platform edge is typically indicated by some form of special surface that is brightly colored (either white or yellow). Most subway/metro stations will have some form of limited basic seating available, but you should be courteous & offer such seats to those with disabilities, the elderly, expectant mothers, & young children. If you must stand, please stand a reasonable distance away from the platform edge, while not brushing up against other commuters.
While many light rail, streetcar, commuter, & intercity rail lines are powered either by overhead electrical wiring (also known as catenary wire) – with some commuter & intercity rail lines using diesel-powered trains, many subway/metro systems are powered by what is known as a third rail. This special beam (indicated in the second photo above) carries the electrical current that is needed to power the subway/metro train & can carry deadly results should a person make contact with it in any way while it’s live.
As you’re waiting for the train, you may notice some form of a countdown clock nearby to inform you of when the next train will arrive. Such clocks can come in the form of an LED display or LCD TV screen.
As the train approaches the station, you may hear an automated intercom announcement stating to step away from the platform edge & prepare to board the train. Please be sure to keep a reasonable distance from the train as it arrives, & wait until it has made a complete stop before attempting to board. Additionally, as a courtesy, you want to allow departing customers to exit the train first before attempting to board.
Once on board the train…
…find a seat & enjoy the ride! Keep in mind that there may be times where you will be standing – especially during peak hours. While many trains have ample seating, please always be mindful of any “Priority Seating” areas that are specifically designated for those with disabilities, the elderly, & expectant mothers. You’ll want want to offer these seats to such individuals if they board the train. Also, many subway/metro systems do not have special provisions – especially on older trains – so please be mindful to offer your seat to these individuals as trains become crowded.
Please be mindful of when your next stop will be. Unlike buses, there are no push buttons or cords to notify the operator as to when you wish to exit. You’ll want to have either a print or digital copy of the rail system map as reference for where to exit. Many newer trains have automated stop announcements & (in many cases as well) digital displays that show what the next stops are. Older trains should have static maps available. These tools will also help aid you in getting off at the right stop.
Handrails; when you’re able to reach onto one, hold tight, cause the train may travel fast.
Commuter/suburban & intercity rail trains are configured differently than subway/metro & light rail/streetcar trains. Many commuter & intercity rail cars have plush seating – with some seats having pull-down trays (like on commercial aircraft) or static tables (such as the ones pictured above). Many such trains also feature bar and/or dining cars available to add onto the customer experience. Again though, there are no special buttons or pull cords to indicate to the operator that you wish to exit, so it’s always helpful to have a map handy so that you know which stop to exit at. Also, be sure to have your valid fare media ready to show to on-board staff members in the event that they commence with a fare inspection (the latter also applies to many light rail/streetcar systems).
Exiting the train
When you’ve reached your destination station, be sure to stand close to the nearest exit door so that you can exit as quickly as possible. For your own safety, as well as the safety of others, refrain from pushing your way out of the train, as such can risk injury to yourself & others. On some commuter rail & many intercity rail lines, the boarding/de-boarding process may be a bit more similar to commercial aviation, so please be extra patient in these situations because different rules may apply.
Once off the train, step a reasonable distance away from the platform edge & allow others to exit & board. If you need to make a transfer, please be sure to locate signage that will lead you to the correct concourse, platform, & track. If exiting the station, follow the respective signs to exit the station.