HRT Snow Routes

image
Photo Credit: Hampton Roads Transit (HRT)

Back in December, I told you about Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) working on a system of Snow Routes, designed to provide basic bus services in the event that sustained snowfall is forecasted to exceed six inches.

In the last few weeks, HRT has unveiled those Snow Routes and installed blue “snowflake” signs at designated bus stops. The routes themselves are designated by color and will operate every hour (unless otherwise indicated) between 6:00am and 8:00pm Monday through Saturday. Sunday service will NOT be provided.

Now keep in mind, these Snow Routes will only be activated if sustained snowfall is to exceed six inches. Usually such circumstances will warrant schools and many other government facilities to close due to many streets being impassable. Additionally, many transit agencies, including HRT, do not have the resources available to clear streets on their own. This is left to the responsibility of the area municipal governments (usually the Public Works Department) to ensure that all streets are cleared of snow and ice. What this does do though, is that the plowing/clearing of thoroughfares is prioritized so that buses can move through quickly.

In events by which the snow routes are not activated, HRT will operate normal transit service to the fullest extent it can while ensuring the safety of customers and employees. There will no doubt be delays and detours, and customers should always arrive at their stop early to ensure on-time boarding. Additionally, customers stay tuned to local media outlets and social media for updates. Customers can also contact Customer Service (when open) for information, but keep in mind that operations may be limited during major weather events.

HRT will exercise caution when operating light rail and ferry services and will decrease or suspend services if weather conditions worsen. Customers should plan accordingly.

Further information on HRT’s Snow Routes and other weather related transit procedures can be found on HRT’s website.

February, 2014 Ridership Report

RidershipReportTitle-2014-02

The numbers are out once again! And the month of February brought forth strong transit ridership along Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART), the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), and Hampton Roads Transit (HRT). Let’s take a quick glance at the numbers! For the report, I’ve been able to get clarification as to what modes of bus transport are included in the calculations. Please note that Rail and Ferry services are not included in these numbers.

RidershipReportScreen-2014-02

For HART, February, 2014’s bus ridership numbers could not be anymore stronger! Bus ridership on the HART system grew by 3.5% over February, 2012, with MetroRapid taking in 50,587 riders! February 4th saw the highest single-day ridership for the month, with 59,000 boardings, and 15 out of 20 weekdays saw ridership surpass the 50,000 mark!

About the only sore spot for HART is the In-Town Trolley, which has seen ridership continue to diminish. There is currently a study underway to re-evaluate downtown Tampa transit services, including possible improvements to the TECOline Streetcar Line (which has also immensely suffered from low ridership and service cuts), a revamp of the downtown bus circulator system, and the possibility of re-opening Marion St to general traffic. I’ll have more on this in an upcoming post.

PSTA suffered a relatively small decline of less than 1% in February, 2014 vs February, 2013. While this could be for a variety of reasons, bus ridership remains strong along the PSTA system, with 1,093,069 riders using the agency’s fixed-route bus and trolleybus routes, and flex-route connector services. Ridership on the St. Pete Downtown Looper Trolleybus and the Clearwater Jolley Trolley, which are partially funded by PSTA, saw passenger numbers reach 5,048 and 41,537 respectively. Let’s hope that the Safety Harbor Jolley Trolley trial phase is a huge success!

HRT suffered a bus ridership decline of 6.9%, likely due to the episodes of inclement weather that has struck Hampton Roads during the month of February (winter just does not want to let go of the north it seems). Average bus ridership during all days of the week took a hit, with average weekday ridership decreasing by 7.2%, Saturday by 2.4%, and Sunday by about 1.1%. Comparing February, 2014 ridership against the same month in 2013 and 2012, bus ridership declined by 6.5%.

One huge sore spot for HRT is the GoPass 365 program. This program allows participating employers and education institutions to hand out a specific number of passes to employees and students. These passes allow participants to use the HRT bus, light rail, and ferry systems without having to pay the normal fares. The program began in mid 2011 with ridership from participating organizations growing since then. Originally, the program was structured in a way that one only had to show their employer or institutional ID card to board the bus, train, or ferry.

Unfortunately, overall system ridership has not seen a dramatic increase as HRT had hoped for, which in-turn has hurt farebox revenues and budget/revenue projections. This has forced HRT to make changes in the way that the GoPass 365 program operates, as well as resulted in several organizations pulling out of the program for next fiscal year (which will be FY 2014/2015). One of the participating institutions that saw the largest overall GoPass 365 ridership during FY 2013/2014 was Tidewater Community College. They are among the several organizations that have decided to not renew their contract with HRT due to the changes that are planned for FY 2014/2015. I suspect that if further changes are not made to stifle these negative trends, the GoPass 365 program will end up being eliminated altogether.

SOURCES