On Sunday, March 26, 2017, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) will enact minor scheduling and running time changes to Routes 5, 7, 12, and 32. On Monday, March 27, changes will be effective on Routes 31, 36, 46, 47LX, 53LX, 57, and 200X.
The most significant changes are that Routes 36 and 46 get a weeknight service boost. Instead of the routes cutting off after 9:00pm, both routes will have trips running as late as 11:00pm. Schedules can be obtained at gohart.org, and printed schedules will be available after March 19, 2017.
Overview of Service Changes
MetroRapid – Minor running time changes.
Route 5 – Minor running time changes on weekends.
Route 7 – Minor running time changes on all service days.
Route 12 – Minor running time changes on all service days.
Route 31 – Minor running time changes.
Route 32 – Minor running time changes on weekends.
Route 36 – Weekday service between Carrollwood and Britton Plaza extended to 11:00pm in both directions. Running times changed.
Route 46 – Weekday service extended to 10:00pm for eastbound and 11:00pm for westbound. Running times changed.
Route 47LX – Minor running time changes.
Route 53LX – Minor running time changes.
Route 57 – Minor running time changes on all service days.
Route 200X – Minor running time changes.
TECOline Streetcar – Morning Service Pilot Project ends on 3/24/17, so schedules will revert back to the prior scheme with some running time changes. Read more about the outcome of the pilot project on HART’s Blog.
What about New Tampa Flex?
For those of you wondering about if and when the planned New Tampa Flex route will launch, unfortunately, the plans are on hold for now. Due to falling ridership across the nation, and possible funding reductions at the state and federal levels, plus a possible shakeup of TBARA and the ongoing controversy around Tampa Bay Express – HART is currently preparing for the grim possibility of enacting across-the-board service cuts come 2019. It’s something that I’ve been fearing for a long time and I hope that key routes will not be cut. However, some lower ridership routes may be re-aligned, merged, or eliminated, and much of the entire HART network as it stands today will radically change over the next few years. Also expect to see some services converted into Flex routes and others into HyperLINK zones.
It’s that time again; time to implement another round of service changes. This time, I was a tad late in posting the January, 2017 changes for Hampton Roads Transit and Volusia County Transit. So I decided to roll in those changes into one blog post with the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s February, 2017 service changes.
This round of changes saw mostly frequency and/or span of service increases for both PSTA and Votran, while HRT saw a round of scheduling and/or routing adjustments and two route eliminations. The biggest change for HRT is the discontinuation of hold requests.
What exactly is a hold request? Let’s say that you’re on the last trip of the evening and need to make a transfer. But the bus that you’re transferring to departs three minutes before the bus that you’re on is scheduled to arrive at the transfer point. Some transit agencies will allow you to place a hold request so that the bus that you’re transferring to will wait a few extra minutes for you to arrive.
With transit agency budgets getting tighter and efficiency improvements becoming more important than ever before, many transit agencies have decided to do away with hold requests to help keep buses running on time. PSTA is one of the transit agencies in West Central Florida that continues to honor hold requests. HART revised its hold request procedures a few years ago to where customers can only place a hold request during the last two trips of the evening, though exceptions may be made during the first trip of the morning.
Hampton Roads Transit (HRT)
Here’s a brief overview of the service changes that took effect for HRT back on January 16, 2017.
Route 25: Minor scheduling changes were enacted to improve efficiency.
Route 33: Routing changes were enacted near the Artic Ave & 19th St Transfer Point to improve efficiency. Please see the graphic below for details.
Route 55: The last three trips departing Greenbriar Mall were adjusted to improve connectivity to other routes at the Robert Hall Transfer Point.
Route 57: Western terminus adjusted from Sunkist Rd/Airline Blvd. to Airline Blvd. and Quailshire Ln.
Route 58: The Mains Creek Rd deviation was discontinued. Buses now stay on Libertyville Rd between Mullen Rd & Great Bridge Blvd. Please see the graphic below for details.
Changes to the Robert Hall Transfer Point: The transfer point was split into two boarding zones to expedite easier and quicker transfers. Zone A serves Routes 14, 55, 57, & 58, while Zone B serves Routes 6 ,13, & 15.
Route 101: Minor scheduling changes were enacted to improve efficiency.
Route 107: Scheduling changes were made to improve connectivity other routes at Patrick Henry Mall.
Route 111: Routing changes were made to the Jefferson Ave segment to where buses travel bi-directionally along Jefferson Ave, Thimble Shoals Blvd, Fishing Point Dr, and City Center Blvd. Northbound buses previously traveled clockwise via Jefferson Ave, City Center Blvd, Fishing Point Blvd, Thimble Shoals Blvd, and then back to Jefferson Ave and City Center Blvd. Please see the graphic below for details.
Route 968 (Route Elimination): This route was operating on a test basis to evaluate transit service to key employment centers. Unfortunately, it was eliminated due to ultra-low ridership.
Route 969 (Route Elimination): This route was operating on a test basis to evaluate transit service to key employment centers. Unfortunately, it was eliminated due to ultra-low ridership.
Changes to the HRT Website
Locating bus schedules on www.gohrt.com has changed. All routes are now separated by area (i.e. Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton) with separate pages on the Peninsula Commuter and Metro Area Express routes remaining intact. Previously, you could view a list of northside and southside bus routes without having to go through the area pages.
Volusia County Transit (Votran)
Here’s a brief overview of the service changes that took effect for Votran back on January 24, 2017.
Route 20: Frequency was increased from hourly service to every 30 minutes Monday through Saturday, interlining with Route 60 was discontinued, and the northern terminus was shifted to the Amelia Ave SuperStop (Transfer Point) by the Northgate Shopping Center. The DeLand WalMart on US Hwy 17 is now only served by southbound trips to the Market Place Transfer Point.
Routes 21 & 22: Departure times from the Market Place Transfer Point were changed to :25 past the hour to allow quicker transfers between these routes and the improved Route 20. The first trips of the morning on both the 21 & 22 no longer enter Deltona City Center.
Route 23: Departure times from the Market Place Transfer Center were changed to :20 past the hour.
Route 33: The SunRail weekday feeder route between DuPont Lakes and the DeBary SunRail station is no longer classified as an express route. Buses will stop at all marked Votran bus stops along the route.
Routes 40 & 41: Timepoint changes were enacted to alleviate confusion with the Julia St/US Hwy 1 interline point.
Route 60: Frequency was increased from hourly service to every 30 minutes Monday through Saturday, interlining with Route 20 was discontinued, and the western terminus was shifted to the Amelia Ave SuperStop (Transfer Point) by the Northgate Shopping Center. Customers wishing to visit the WalMart on US 17 will need to transfer to Route 20.
Here’s a brief overview of the service changes that took effect for PSTA back on February 5, 2017.
Route 4: Sunday service now ends after 9:00pm, instead of ending after 5:00pm.
Route 7: Saturday service now ends after 9:00pm, instead of ending after 6:00pm. Sunday service now ends after 8:00pm, instead of ending after 5:00pm.
Route 11: Sunday service now ends after 6:00pm instead of ending after 4:00pm. Also, Sunday frequency is now hourly throughout the day. Previously, buses ran every two hours throughout the day on Sundays.
Route 14: Service now ends after 9:00pm Monday through Saturday and after 8:00pm on Sundays. Service previously ended after 8:00pm on weekdays, after 7:00pm on Saturdays, and after 5:00pm on Sundays. Sunday frequency has also increased from every two hours to hourly service.
Routes 18 & 19: Sunday service now runs through 8:00pm (Route 18) & 9:00pm (Route 19) respectively. Both routes used to end after 5:00pm on Sundays.
Route 23: Sunday service now ends after 7:00pm, instead of ending after 5:00pm. Sunday frequency has also increased from every two hours to hourly service.
Route 52: Saturday frequency was increased from hourly service to every 30 minutes.
Route 59: Saturday frequency was increased from hourly service to every 30 minutes; and weekday service now runs through 11:00pm, instead of ending after 8:00pm.
Route 61: Minor scheduling changes were enacted to improve efficiency.
Route 66L: A northbound trip from the Park St Terminal in Clearwater was added, with the bus departing at 6:05am.
Route 73: Saturday frequency is now hourly throughout the day. Previously, buses ran roughly every two hours throughout the day.
Route 76: Minor scheduling changes were enacted to improve efficiency.
Route 78: The last three weekday round trips now depart the Park St Terminal in Clearwater at 6:10pm, 7:25pm, & 8:35pm. These trips previously departed at 5:40pm, 6:55pm, & 8:05pm respectively. Saturday frequency was increased from hourly service to every 30 minutes. Sunday frequency was increased from every hour & 10 minutes to every 35 minutes.
Route 79: Minor scheduling changes were enacted to improve efficiency.
Route 98: Whitney Rd deviation was discontinued. Buses now stay on East Bay Dr/Roosevelt Blvd at the US 19 interchange. Those wishing to make transfers to & from the 98 can do so at the stop along Roosevelt Blvd & Dodge St.
Route 813 – North County Connector – Dunedin/Palm Harbor: Route has been split into two separate routes to allow for better flex service in the Safety Harbor area. The 813 will continue to serve Westfield Countryside, the Dunedin & Palm Harbor areas, & the Palm Harbor WalMart, and departure times have changed to reflect the split.
Route 814 – North County Connector – Safety Harbor (New Route): The Safety Harbor portion of the 813 is now the 814, serving Westfield Countryside, the Safety Harbor area, & Philippe Park every hour Monday through Saturday. The new route replaces the Safety Harbor Jolley Trolley.
Jolley Trolley – Safety Harbor Branch (Route Elimination): After a three-year run, the Safety Harbor branch of the Jolley Trolley was eliminated due to funding changes (the city of Safety Habor elected not to continue funding for the trolley beyond 2016).
New Hours for TD Late Shift: 10:00 p.m. – 6:00 a.m.
On Sunday, October 2, 2016; the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) enacted a major revamp of key bus routes with the goal of streamlining service and improving efficiency and reliability throughout the system. These changes include the introduction of four new bus routes and substantial changes to 12 others – including the Jolley Trolley. I was originally going to make three posts in the series, with this post discussing changes made to key central Pinellas routes. However, due to Hurricane Matthew, I’ve decided to combine the two into one post.
Improving Clearwater and Northern Pinellas Service
Various routes in Central and Northern Pinellas were revised to improve system efficiency and eliminate notoriously long runs that caused entire routes to be inefficient. The most radical change was in North Pinellas, where routes in Dunedin, Tarpon Springs, Countryside, and Clearwater were changed.
With almost never-ending construction on Ulmerton Rd, Route 59 was continually bogged down in delays – which in-turn caused the entire route to run inefficiently. To help remedy this problem, the 59 was truncated at the 34th St N Platform, with the southern sections being taken over by Routes 4 and 9. Weekday frequency was also streamlined to include 15-minute peak service with 30-minute midday service (with the exception of a 15-minute “pulse” during the noon hours), and 40 to 45-minute evening service (after 6:00pm). Weekend service was left unchanged due to funding constraints, but February 2017’s service changes will yield 30-minute Saturday service and buses running through 11:00pm on weekdays, 10:00pm on Saturdays, and 9:00pm on Sundays.
Route 60 saw no major changes, but did see adjustments made to running and departure times to improve efficiency.
Route 61 was extended to Westfield Countryside via SR 580 to create an additional option for those wanting to commute between the Countryside, Dunedin, and Clearwater areas. The area around Palm Lake Village continues to be served, but the segment of SR 580 between Pinehurst Rd and County Rd 1 is no longer served, and the north-south portion in Dunedin was re-aligned to Patricia Ave.
Route 62 no longer serves Safety Harbor, and has instead been realigned to operate along SR 580 and McMullen Booth Rd between Westfield Countryside and the Shoppes at Boot Ranch. Service lost from the 62 was compensated via a revised Dunedin/Palm Harbor Connector.
Since the implementation of the Jolley Trolley Coastal Route back in the late 2000s, service along Alt US Hwy 19 has seen duplication of what could be one single service. PSTA and the company operating the Jolley Trolley agreed to combine the resources of the 66 and the Jolley Trolley Coastal Route into one trolley route. The 66 numbering was retained for a limited stop service that would follow the original local 66’s routing between Clearwater and Tarpon Springs, but service only operates during peak hours on weekdays, in addition to the AM and PM runs to the Clearwater Fundamental Middle School when class is in session.
Route 67 was streamlined so that all trips serve the Nielsen Media Research Campus in Oldsmar. The Forest Lakes Blvd segment between Commerce Rd and Tampa Rd was eliminated. Those in the southern portion of the Forest Lakes subdivision can still use the Tampa/Oldsmar Connector.
Route 76 did not see significant changes to its routing or schedule, but an intermittent service area was added in Downtown Clearwater in the event that the route needs to be detoured due to downtown events.
Route 78’s Dunedin portion was re-aligned to serve the Douglas Ave portion of the 61. Scheduling changes were also made.
Changes to the North County Connector
The Tampa/Oldsmar Connector was re-aligned to serve Belcher Rd instead of Countryside Blvd due to demand. Schedules have also been streamlined to where buses now operate every hour on Saturdays, instead of every hour and 15 minutes with the prior route, and buses run a bit later in the day as well.
The Dunedin/Palm Harbor Connector was re-aligned to serve the Safety Harbor/Main St portion of Route 62, while the limited trips to the St. Petersburg College Tarpon Springs Campus was eliminated due to low ridership. Schedules have also been streamlined and buses run a bit later than they used to under the old route.
Starting February 5, 2017, PSTA will enact another round of service changes that will usher in expanded service for many Pinellas routes. This is able to be done thanks to the increase in the millage rate that PSTA receives from property tax revenues.
Yep, it’s that time again, for the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival! The Parade of the Pirates brings in hundreds of revelers each year, and 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 28, starting at 2:00pm.
Roadway Closures and Parking Info
On Friday, January 27, the day before the parade (that is TOMORROW as of the publishing of this post), many area roadways will begin to shut down. A complete list of closures has been provided through local media outlets (for this post, I’ve used the News Channel 8 article) and I strongly suggest that you go through this list so that you’re not caught in unnecessary traffic congestion. Because of the parade route and disbursement of the floats at the end of the parade, the Platt, Brorein, and Kennedy bridges will all be closed. That means your only points of egress into downtown Tampa will be the Cass St bridge, the Selmon Expressway, and I-275. If you don’t need to be in downtown Tampa, please do not enter the area! I cannot stress this enough.
For those traveling to Davis Island and Tampa General Hospital, access will be maintained to the island, but the on/off-ramps to/from Bayshore will all be closed. Please be sure to plan ahead for this, as shuttle service may not be available during the parade.
If you plan to park in one of the parking garages in either Downtown Tampa, Channelside, Hyde Park, or Ybor City, please make sure you remember where you parked. Also, keep in mind that many streets will be closed throughout the area. Please also be sure to bring cash, because some lots may only accept cash as payment. Additionally, please be aware that the City of Tampa prohibits parking on some streets.
Escape the parking and traffic hassles, use transit!
Select HART bus routes and the TECOline Streetcar Line will operate on a modified schedule on Saturday, and some bus routes will be detoured due to road closures. I’ll go through a brief rundown of what to expect if you’re using transit to get to and from the parade. For detailed information – including routes that serve the Downtown Tampa area – please visit the HART website, as information can change between now and the day of the parade.
Routes 7, 8, 14, 19, & 30 will be detoured! Please plan your trip accordingly! Below is a listing of how buses will be detoured, along with respective route maps. OneBusAway WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE FOR THE ROUTES AFFECTED, SO PLEASE REFER TO POSTED SCHEDULES FOR DEPARTURE TIMES!!!
Routes 7 & 14WILL NOT SERVE CASS ST.Instead, both routes will travel along Palm Ave from N. Boulevard and then follow Tampa St/Scott St into downtown (outbound will use Marion St/Henderson Ave/Florida Ave to Palm Ave).
Route 8 will be detoured via Nuccio Pkwy & Cass St. The normal route through Channelside and southern Downtown WILL NOT BE SERVED.
Routes 19 & 30 will be detoured via Howard/Armenia and I-275. The Platt/Cleveland/Brorien/Davis Island segments of Route 19 & the Kennedy Blvd segment of Route 30 east of Armenia/Howard WILL NOT BE SERVED.
Please make alternate arrangements if you are needing to get to/from Tampa General Hospital, as shuttle service may not be available.
If you reside in the Town-N-Country area, you can park your car at the Northwest Transfer Center and use Route 30 to connect to the Gasparilla festivities!
The TECOline Streetcar will run a modified schedule from 8:00am through 1:30am Sunday morning, and will only serve selected stations during selected times of the day. However, the Dick Greco Plaza, Centro Ybor, and Centennial Park stations will be served all day. The Whiting station will be CLOSED all day. Please read carefully through HART’s blog post for a complete listing of stations that will be closed throughout the day.
Feeder bus shuttles will pick up passengers at the Tampa Port Authority Garage, Dick Greco Plaza, Cumberland Ave, Cadrecha Plaza, and Streetcar Society stations to help get customers between various parking venues and the parade route. Service will commence at 9:30am and run through 7:00pm.
The In-Towner Saturday Route (Route 97) will operate along its normal route, but will provide frequent service throughout the day. Service will commence at 9:00am and run roughly every 15 to 20 minutes through 7:00pm. Customers may disembark the trolley at stops along Jackson St (inbound to Channelside) or Whiting St (Outbound to Marion Transit Center). OneBusAway tracking will be unavailable.
It’s not too often that I report on transit happenings occurring outside of my coverage areas. However, in extenuating circumstances that could cause long-term impacts upon a transit agency while causing short to mid-term service disruptions – it’s important to know what your options may be if transit services are suddenly not available.
In the Dayton, OH region, many transit customers rely on the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority to provide bus and paratransit services each day. The area’s school district also contracts with the transit agency to provide basic bus service to and from schools. In Florida, most of the respective school districts provide their own busing to transport students to and from school.
During the past several months, a labor dispute has threatened to cripple transit services if left unresolved. Unionized employees have continually alleged that their needs for better pay and benefits have been left ignored by agency management. Despite several efforts to try and negotiate through the situation without incident, those talks have failed.
As of 12-midnight this morning, the unionized GDRTA employees are on strike, leaving regular bus services completely suspended and paratransit services operating at bare minimum levels until further notice. While many have been bracing for the possibility of a widespread service interruption in a worst-case-scenario for some time, other customers were left scrambling for transportation options as of this morning.
How did this happen?
Two key issues by which the unionized GDRTA employees – represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1385 – are demanding that management resolve are pay and medical benefits. Workers state that there has been no pay raise since April 2014 and that they have not been properly compensated for overtime. Additionally, increased costs in health care have prompted the agency to make unpopular changes in their employee’s medical benefits. So far, the two sides have been unable to come to an agreement and the union announced its intent to go on strike in late December of 2016, with January 8th being the “make it, or break it moment”.
What you need to know going forward
There’s no doubt that as the AM rush hour starts to dwindle that many are left stranded, wondering how they’ll get to where they need to go. While the strike is in effect, expect increased traffic as those who have access to a personal vehicle but normally use transit will be on the roads. Additionally, ride sharing and taxi services will be to capacity and a speedy pickup may not be available. While biking, walking, carpooling, and telecommuting may be an option for some, it will not be an option for many others.
For those who rely on paratransit services (also known as Project Mobility), you should contact (937) 425-8300 for further information and scheduling a next-day trip. You can monitor updates through local media outlets and through social media. Frequently Asked Questions are posted to the RTA website.
Monday, January 16, 2017 is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, where we take a moment to celebrate the life and achievements of the famed Civil Rights leader. Unlike most Federal holidays, where transit services are typically limited to weekend-level services, most transit districts tend to operate on a typical weekday schedule on MLK Day. Some districts however may operate on a Saturday schedule or not operate at all.
Holiday Transit Service Levels
For transit services not listed above, please contact your respective transit agency.
Unless otherwise noted, many transit agencies will operate normal (weekday) customer service hours. Please contact your respective transit agency for the latest information. As of January 3, 2017, I am no longer posting Customer Service hours because I cover so many agencies and not all agencies post detailed information on their websites.
Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) are available throughout the following locations for customer convenience.
HART (Tampa, FL): All major transit centers (Marion, University, Northwest, West Tampa, NetPark, and Yukon St).
HRT (Norfolk/Hampton, VA): Along the Tide LRT corridor in Norfolk, as well as at HRT transit centers, and the High St Ferry station.
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.
Christmas is just around the corner! As always, many transit agencies will be operating limited to no service on Christmas Day. However, since Christmas is on a Sunday this year, transit agencies that normally operate on a Sunday will operate their typical Sunday schedules. The only exception will be transit agencies that operate Sunday service; but do not operate on major holidays such as Christmas.
Note: Transit agencies not listed on the Exceptions/No Service lists will either operate their normal schedules or have not yet announced their holiday service schedules. Please contact your respective transit agency to see if they will operate through the weekend.
December 23, 2016
Many transit agencies will be operating normal weekday services on Friday, December 23, 2016. However, many businesses and agencies will be observing Christmas Eve on this day and therefore, some transit agencies may have exceptions to normal service. Such exceptions are listed below:
HART: Express bus services will NOT operate. All other services will operate as normal. TECOline Streetcar: Sunday-Level Service will operate. Hernando THEbus: No Service.
Note: PSTA will operate all commuter and express routes (Routes 66L, 90, 97, 98, 100X, and 300X) as normal.
LYNX will operate all weekday services as normal, as will SunRail, Votran, PCPT, StarMetro, SCAT, and MCAT.
Christmas Eve (December 24, 2016)
Christmas Eve falls on a Saturday this year and most transit agencies that normally operate on a Saturday will operate their typical Saturday schedules. Agencies that will NOT operate that day are as follows:
Note: MCAT will have normal Saturday bus service, but will begin running final trips at 3:00pm, with trolleys ceasing service at 7:00pm. Customers who normally rely on afternoon buses should make alternative transportation arrangements.
Votran will end its night bus routes at 10:00pm, instead of 12-midnight.
Star Metro will operate normal Saturday daytime service, but night services will NOT operate.
The TECOline Streetcar will operate on a Sunday schedule.
Christmas Day (December 25, 2016)
Christmas Day falls on a Sunday this year and most transit agencies that normally operate on a Saturday will operate their typical Saturday schedules. Agencies that will NOT operate that day are as follows:
Polk Citrus Connection
HRT will not operate Route 960 on Christmas Day.
December 26, 2016
Many transit agencies will be operating normal weekday services on Monday, December 26, 2016. However, many businesses and agencies will be observing Christmas Day on this day and therefore, some transit agencies may have exceptions to normal service. Such exceptions are listed below:
HART: Sunday-Level Service will operate. PCPT: No Service. Hernando THEbus: No Service. Polk Citrus Connection: No Service. StarMetro: Sunday-Level Service will operate. LYNX: Polk County bus routes 416 and 427 will NOT operate. These routes are operated by LYNX, but are funded by Polk County and thus follow the Citrus Connection holiday closures. HRT: Saturday-Level Service will operate for bus and LRT. Ferry services will follow their regular weekday schedule.
On December 4, 2016, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) will be enacting some minor scheduling and/or routing changes to improve efficiency throughout the system. Such changes will be enacted on Routes 24X, 25LX, 37, and 96. However, the most significant change will take place on December 10, 2016; when the agency is slated to revive Trolleybus Route 97 – this time under the fresh “In-Towner” branding.
This next section will discuss both the old and the new Route 97
The Original Route 97
HART originally ran Route 97 as a weekend trolley service in Downtown Tampa to compliment the existing Route 96. Route 97 service was funded through the City of Tampa, and would begin service at 6:00pm Friday night and ran through 2:00am Saturday morning. The service would then repeat on Saturday at 6:00pm, running through 2:00am Sunday morning. In 2012, the 97 was eliminated as budget woes hit both HART and the city. City funding ultimately went into helping to maintain the 96.
City events test demand for a revival of the Saturday Trolley
During the past few months, HART and the City of Tampa have been working on ways to better serve the downtown area without hurting each other’s budgets. In October, HART began to operate a trial Saturday trolley service during large-scale events in Downtown Tampa – such as MegaCon. These trials were funded by the city and have been well received by customers from what I heard. Reviving trolley service on Saturdays will allow for customers to have an alternative to driving and parking – even for those who just want to take a walk or jog along the Riverwalk, or connect to the Streetcar to have lunch in Ybor City.
What the new service will bring
The new 97 will operate on Saturdays between 11:00am and 7:00pm, with 30-minute frequency. However, during larger downtown events, the city may step in to help fund additional service. Additional service may include increased frequency and/or service hours. Below, is a quick glance at the basic schedule, which is subject to change – so please be sure to visit www.gohart.org for the latest information.
And one more note; OneBusAway tracking will be available for the 97 when it operates its basic schedule. Additional services will not be trackable until improvements to the OBA application are introduced by which special services are able to be tracked. If this ever happens is really anyone’s guess.
Other service changes – Effective 12/4/16 or 12/5/16
In addition to the reintroduction of the 97, HART will be enacting minor scheduling and/or routing changes to Routes 24X, 25LX, 37, and 96. These changes mainly encompass making detour routing from August and October, 2016 permanent fixtures.
Routes 24X and 25LX – Effective 12/5/16
Routes 24X and 25LX, which serve the South Interbay region of South Tampa on weekdays from the Brandon/Riverview area, will be seeing a change in routing during the AM service hours. PM routing will remain unchanged. Please see the maps below for both AM and PM routing. Schedules have been tweaked accordingly to reflect the changes.
Route 37 – Effective 12/4/16
Route 37 has previously served the Hillsborough Community College (HCC) Brandon Campus via Columbus Dr, which was previously the campus’ sole entrance/exit. In 2015, a second entrance/exit was added to the campus in the form of Nancy Watkins Dr. In August, 2016 – after several months of planning – HART enacted a temporary detour for Route 37 buses serving the HCC campus. Buses now travel in a clockwise direction from Falkenburg Rd, to Nancy Watkins Dr, curving around the east border of the campus to Columbus Dr, and then back onto Falkenburg. The previous on-campus stop was removed in favor of adding a stop on the north end of the campus on Nancy Watkins Dr. Schedules have been tweaked accordingly to reflect the changes.
Please note that the HCC Brandon Campus is NOT SERVED prior to 6:00am on weekdays, on weekends, and other times when classes are not in session (such as holiday breaks).
Route 96 – Effective 12/5/16
In October, 2016, the routing for Route 96 – the In-Towner Weekday – was changed to better serve key portions of Downtown Tampa and the Channelside District. The detour routing from October will now be permanent. Schedules have been tweaked accordingly to reflect the changes.
Thanksgiving Day is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends. Whether you plan to stay with family for dinner, or maybe head out evening or Black Friday shopping, I have your scoop to how the many transit agencies that I cover will be operating throughout the Thanksgiving weekend.
Transit Service Levels
Thanksgiving Day – 11/24/16
Black Friday – 11/25/16
Thanksgiving Weekend – 11/26 & 11/27/16
All transit services that normally operate on a weekend will operate as normal.
As always, I try to make sure that all information in this post is correct. Schedule information is obtained from the transit agencies themselves, so they are ultimately responsible for what goes out to customers. However, if you spot something that I’ve typed that is incorrect, please let me know as soon as possible so that I may make corrections.
On Sunday, October 2, 2016; the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) enacted a major revamp of key bus routes with the goal of streamlining service and improving efficiency and reliability throughout the system. These changes include the introduction of four new bus routes and substantial changes to 12 others – including the Jolley Trolley. In this post; I will go into detail regarding each of the changes for southern and a portion of central Pinellas, as well as share some images of the new services that PSTA now operates.
Streamlining South & Central County Service
PSTA has long been known for operating notoriously long bus routes by which it can take as much as two to three hours to traverse Pinellas County. While longer routes tend to provide a convenient, one-seat option for some; the lengthier the bus route, the more chances that reliability issues will arise. In the case of many central Pinellas routes; buses were running well behind schedule due to traffic conditions and/or construction on key corridors – like Ulmerton Rd. When buses fall behind on one segment of the route, the entire route becomes bogged down in delays, and that in-turn inconveniences the customer.
To help remedy this problem, PSTA decided to modify routes so that they can operate more smoothly. These measures included splitting some routes into two or three segments so that better service can be provided and maintained on the busiest portions while maintaining basic (hourly or less frequent) service in areas that don’t see high ridership demand. Other changes included combining segments of two routes that would otherwise be too short to operate on their own (while not being notoriously long either), and moving/eliminating a portion of an existing route and allow another route or service to easily compensate for any service lost.
Route 4 maintains its frequent 15-minute weekday service during the day – with 30-minute frequency after 6:30pm and all day on Saturdays. Hourly service is maintained on Sundays and Holidays. However, the segment north of Gateway Mall now travels up MLK St N to Roosevelt Blvd, 28th St N, 118th Ave N, and 34th St N – taking over the path of Route 59 to the 34th St Transfer Center (PSTA Facility). The northern (116th Ave N/Goodwill Industries) loops previously served by Route 4, have been shifted over to a new Route 9, which I will describe in a few moments. In addition to the above; the Coquina Key Loop is now a timepoint. This means that buses serving the loop will display “via Coquina” on the head signs.
While I was very concerned about the routing that Route 4 would ultimately take, I have to say that I am very satisfied with how the final routing turned out. Not only will I be able to use the same bus stops that I’ve been using previously to board and de-board Route 59, but I will also enjoy a one-seat ride into the heart of Downtown St. Petersburg via 4th St N. The frequency of the 4 during the weekdays and on Saturdays will also allow me to be more flexible with my work commute schedule, and also make quick runs to the store – particularly Trader Joe’s on 4th St N – without having to drive or wait up to an hour for a connecting bus.
As I mentioned earlier, the 116th Ave N/Goodwill Industries loops that were previously served by Route 4 are now served by the new Route 9. The 9 operates every 30 minutes on weekdays with hourly service on the weekends (though for some reason, the buses do run a bit more oddly on Sundays). Buses serving the loops will do so in the same clockwise fashion that Route 4 previously did on Sundays and Holidays – departing Gateway Mall and serving 116th Ave N first, then the Goodwill Industries facility on Gandy Blvd, before returning to Gateway Mall. From Gateway Mall southward, the 9 takes over the southernmost segment of Route 59 to Downtown St. Pete.
In the early stages of planning and public input, the 9 was to only operate hourly seven days a week This did not pan out well with a lot of customers – as many businesses lie along the MLK St N corridor and they (the customers) felt that it was a disservice to them if bus service went down from 20 to 30 minutes to an hour on weekdays. PSTA eventually revised the proposal to include 30-minute weekday service while maintaining hourly weekend service.
Route 74 through central Pinellas has been split into three separate routes. The 74 is maintained between Seminole City Center (formerly Seminole Mall) and Gateway Mall. The 20 to 30-minute weekday frequency and hourly weekend service are retained. In addition, the 102nd Ave N/16th St N/94th Ave N loop has become permanent.
Splitting the 74 allows the Park Blvd portion to retain its frequent weekday service while opening the door to more frequent Saturday service and better Sunday service down the road should funding allow for it.
The segment south of Gateway Mall is now Route 16, which operates each day with one bus every hour. While I prefer that this route operate with 30 to 45-minute weekday service, it is probably not possible to do so at the moment, given PSTA’s limited resources. I do hope that frequency on the weekdays will be increased later on so that customers aren’t too inconvenienced.
The segment west of Seminole City Center is now Route 65, which also takes over the southernmost segment of Route 66 – the latter I will describe in a later post. Route 65 operates each day on an hourly schedule between Seminole City Center and the Park St Terminal in Downtown Clearwater. Buses traveling on the 65 will not enter the Indian Rocks Shopping Center at the northwest corner of Ulmerton Rd and Indian Rocks Rd. Street-side transfers can be made to Routes 59 and 61 from the bus stops along Indian Rocks Rd and Ulmerton Rd. Route 61 buses will still enter the shopping center’s parking lot.
Route 19 was first established in 1990 as a one-seat option for customers traveling the entire Pinellas County portion of US Hwy 19. While the service has been very popular and ridership very strong, increased traffic congestion along the highway over the years has created longer delays – especially in northern Pinellas. PSTA decided that splitting the 19 into two routes would be best to maintain as much existing service as possible while improving the overall reliability and efficiency of the system.
Route 19 was split at the Largo Commons Walmart – which the bus platform on the property’s east end serves as the Largo Transit Center. The segment north of the transfer center retains the Route 19 designation, while the segment south of there became the new Route 34 (34 was chosen due to the southern portion of the route being on 34th St N). Route 19’s overall frequency was reduced to every 35 minutes Monday through Saturday to maintain basic service along the northern US 19 corridor while still being frequent enough to get customers to major employment centers such as Westfield Countryside. Also, buses no longer enter the mall’s parking lots – but remain on Countryside Dr and SR 580. The Westfield Countryside timepoint has thus shifted to the eastbound-only platform on SR 580 at Summerdale Dr.
Route 34 begins its journey at the Largo Transit Center and then makes a southbound turnaround on US 19 at Whitney Rd. The route then follows the path of Route 19 down the central US 19 corridor to the Pinellas Park Transit Center (Shoppes at Park Place). From there; the route continues down the 34th St N corridor of US 19 to Grand Central Station and the Skyway Marina District. 20 to 30-minute weekday frequency is maintained throughout the day, with 30-minute evening and Saturday frequency, and hourly Sunday service. Select trips to Eckerd College are retained as well.
Route 18 was originally poised to see major revisions in an effort to streamline service. These plans called for the segment servicing Heritage Apartments to be discontinued, as well as the removal of service into Largo Mall’s parking lots. However; fierce resistance from customers forced PSTA to reconsider the removal of these segments until a longer-term solution can be crafted. In the meantime; Route 18 continues to operate as it did previously – but with some scheduling changes to help keep buses moving on time.
In the future, perhaps during the course of 2017 or 2018, I see PSTA revisiting Route 18 for the removal of service from Heritage Apartments. This will especially be the case if the agency’s Direct Connect service expands further to include more stops. Currently, the revised draft calls for the addition of five stops in strategically located areas of Pinellas, where getting to a bus stop is difficult.
In my next post; I will cover changes for Routes 52, 59, 60, 61, and 67 – focusing on the improvement of these routes through Largo (Routes 52 and 59), Clearwater (Routes 60 and 61), and Oldsmar (Route 67). I will then publish a third post covering Routes 62, 66, 76, 78, the North County Connector routes, and the Jolley Trolley – focusing on the reorganization of these routes through Northern Pinellas.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding these changes – I recommend that you contact PSTA directly at 727-540-1900, or by visiting PSTA.net. Please keep in mind that during the course of this week – Real Time Bus Information through the Clever Devices Interface (ridepsta.net) and OneBusAway may incrementally be unavailable due to updates that are needed to accommodate these route changes.