Sarasota County Area Transit sells express bus fleet to Hillsborough Area Regional Transit

A New Life

Many transit agencies go through vehicle replenishment on a regular basis. Here in the United States, most transit vehicles operate anywhere from 10 to 15 years before it’s time for the agency to bid farewell and retire them. Some agencies however will keep buses on the road longer if the need is there – like if a new bus order is delayed or additional demand arises, while others may part ways earlier than planned if the vehicles are no longer needed – many instances due to shrinking budgets and service reductions.


Overall service reductions prompt fleet reductions

In Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT)’s case, the past few years of undergoing service tweaks and reductions have resulted in more buses in the fleet than what the agency needs. SCAT’s cross-county express routes, originally launched in 2013, have suffered very low overall ridership – despite many past efforts to try and enhance service with new branches and destinations. At one time, there were three express routes in operation – the 80X, the 90X, and the 100X. All three routes originated at either Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport or the Downtown Sarasota Terminal, and traveled southward to North Port. The 80X and 100X primarily used Interstate 75 while the 90X deviated through Venice.

#1104X at the South Venice WalMart.

During the past year or so, SCAT has trimmed down the number of express trips and axed the 80X and 90X. While I have reason to believe that the 100X will survive through the end of 2018, I have a strong feeling that the route will reach the end of the line for good in 2019 – especially now that the suburban coach style buses from 2011 and 2012 are leaving the fleet. Just this past July, SCAT expressed its intent to divest itself of the eight buses – numbered 1101X through 1106X for the six 2011 models, and 1201X and 1202X for the two 2012 models. While I’m not sure how many area transit agencies expressed interest in buying them, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) was the agency that ultimately purchased them. HART is currently struggling to maintain a sturdy bus fleet – with its 2005 and 2006 fleet reaching the end of their useful lives. HART intends to use the express coaches for its 60LX and 275LX (Limited Express) routes – which serve Tampa International Airport. While the timeframe for the start of revenue service under HART’s umbrella is not yet definitively known at the moment – the agency is looking to have them in service by January of 2019. While it does take time for the transfer process to occur – including decommissioning of the buses by SCAT, it is currently not known if the buses will be donning temporary wrapping and placed into service as soon as October, 2018, or if the buses will be sent off-site for repainting beforehand.


Upcoming website changes

As part of my broader website updating efforts, both the SCAT and HART fleet pages will be redesigned and will also reflect the transfer. In fact, I’ve already designed a draft post behind the scenes to reflect the addition of the coach buses to the HART fleet. On the SCAT page, the placeholder for the coach buses will remain intact – along with photos of the buses while they were in service with them, but I will also be directing my readers to visit the HART fleet page to see new photos of the buses in action with the latter.


Sources

Information used to put this post together was compiled from the following:


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And one final note…

I’ve been presented with the opportunity to help WordPress test a new editing format. While I like the features, I think the new post appearance looks a bit awkward with my current theme. I really like my current site theme and do not wish to change it, so we’ll see where this goes.


PSTA Bus Fleet – September, 2018

Something that I don’t talk about too often via a blog post is bus fleet changes. And for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), there’s been a ton going on recently – old buses leaving, new buses arriving or on order, and sadly…buses getting into accidents.

#2116 at Williams Park. I last saw this bus in operation back in February, 2018.

First and foremost, let’s begin with the oldest fleet of buses in the PSTA fleet, the 2001-series 40′ Gillig Low Floors. These buses were true powerhouses back when they were new. One of my bus operator friends loved to drive them regularly in fact because of how they drove. While many of them still ran good up until 2016, the usual reliability issues came into play and the lifespan of a few – including #2109 – exceeded 15 years. Because of this, the 2100s were utilized solely as contingency spares (in the event that another bus broke down) after 2015. Many had been retired in 2016 and 2017, but a few – including #2109 – remained on the roster through the beginning of 2018. In fact, I last spotted #2109 on contingency duty as recently as April of 2018.

Since June of 2018, I’ve noticed that all of the remaining 2100s are no longer going out on the road. This can only mean that they’ve been officially decommissioned in preparation for the arrival of 9 new 2018-series 35′ Gillig Low Floors and 2 new 2018-series 35′ BYD K9 Battery Electric buses. The Gillig order will be virtually identical to the 2017-series buses that hit the road last year. In addition to the 11 new buses, 8 new 2018-series 27′ Freightliner Defender cutaway vans have arrived – slated to replace the aging 2002 and 2005 29′ Gillig Low Floors that are currently in use on the North County Connector routes. The original order of 2012 27′ Ford E450 cutaway vans were retired early in 2015 due to various mechanical defects – thus resulting in the holdover of the 2002 and 2005 “baby” Gilligs.

Between now and late 2020, a total of six 35′ BYD K9 battery electric buses (like this one) will be delivered to PSTA. Four are slated to be used on the Downtown St. Pete “Looper” system and two for a future circulator route in the Carillon Business Park.

With all of these new vehicles coming into the fleet, it made sense to completely phase out the 2100s to make room at the yard for them. In addition, the 9 remaining 2002-series 40′ Gillig Low Floors – which have also been running contingency duty – will be slowly phased out of the fleet over the next year to make way for 9 more 35′ Gillig Low Floor buses and 2 more 35′ BYD K9 buses (both 2019 models). In 2020, PSTA is slated to order 6 more 35′ Gilligs and now there are 2 more 35′ BYDs on the list due to another wave of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) “Lo-No” funds that were granted to the agency just last month. This makes a grand total of 38 buses that will be coming to the PSTA fleet – mostly to replace older vehicles that have exceeded their useful lives.

Created by HARTride 2012.

Now, let me go ahead and get into the last part of this post, since I’ve discussed both the old and the new buses. I have to now bring up the ugly – which is that several PSTA buses were recently involved in accidents. Bus # 15104 (a 2015 40′ Gillig Low Floor hybrid with the BRT design) was rear-ended by a municipal garbage truck last year while finishing a run on route 59 and has been out of service since. The PSTA board recently voted to allow the agency to have the bus hauled off to Tavares, FL – where Coach Crafters will make the necessary repairs to get the bus back in tip top shape for revenue service. See board meeting agenda (item 5E).

The second incident to note involved #2706 back in June of 2018. The bus operator apparently suffered a medical episode and wound up crashing the bus into a concrete utility pole – but not before a good Samaritan jumped aboard the bus to try to stop it. Miraculously, there were no other vehicles involved in the incident, no contact with pedestrians, and no other major property damage. However, due to substantial front-end damage to the bus caused by the collision with the utility pole, it will be out of service for quite a while. I’m not sure if #2706 will follow the same fate as #15104.

Regardless of the incident, any kind of accident involving a transit bus puts strain on the overall fleet because operational spares have to be used more often when breakdowns occur. Just the other day, I saw half of the 2200s out in revenue service to fill in for those buses who had either broken down or were involved in recent accidents.

As I wrap up this post, I want to give a quick shout out to transitaddict327 for giving me inspiration to create this post. I invite you to read up on his blog about the VIA Metropolitan Transit system in San Antonio, TX.


Please be sure to bookmark my website: globaltransitguidebook.com | Contact Me.

You can also find me on Social Media: Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | YouTube

Legalese | Disclosures

A co-branded livery hits the Paris Metro – Part 2

MF 2001 train #096 prepares to depart Place d'Italie, Line 5. Photo Credit: Minato.
MF 2001 train #097 prepares to depart Place d’Italie, Line 5. Photo Credit: Minato.

I can’t believe that this will be my 250th blog post! I want to thank everyone for following my blog, as well as my social media accounts, throughout the past few years! I truly appreciate everyone who has been able to stop by and read up on the various transit happenings throughout Tampa Bay, New York City, Norfolk, and Paris! In September, after Labor Day, I hope to be able to return to my regular posting schedule and start getting back on track with my Transit Staycations and Norfolk Subway series.

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The MP 89 faces an uncertain future…

Two MP 89CC trains at station Mairie de Montrouge, Line 4. Photo Credit: Minato
Two MP 89CC trains at station Mairie de Montrouge, Line 4. Photo Credit: Minato.

7/12/13: This article, published on 7/11/13, now points out a completion of Line 4 automation by 2019, which is definitely more in line with the completion of the Bagneux extension. There is also a hint in the article that stock from Line 14 (Mp 89CA/MP 05) may be transferred over to Line 4, but still nothing is mentioned about the fate of the MP 89CC.

In June of 2012, I first reported about the cascading of rolling stock throughout the Paris Metro system, specifically that of Lines 1, 4, 5, and 9. A little over a year later, this latest round of cascading is nearing its final phase, with Line 9 set to get brand new MF 2001 trains beginning in September! I’ll be discussing about this upcoming transition, and following up on my previous post about the new look of the Paris subway rolling stock as we know it, in a later post. In this post however, I will be highlighting the uncertainty of my favorite Paris subway rolling stock, the MP 1989.

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March Friday Rewind – PSTA’s Hybrid Buses

I know that I didn’t post a Friday Rewind for February, for I was occupied with designing other posts. However, I do have a segment for March, which will reflect on a post I made back on December 10, 2008.

On this day, I blogged about the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) receiving a fleet of swanky new hybrid buses. Let’s take a look at the previous posting first:

As if PSTA already has awesome buses (both Gilligs and New Flyers), things are about to get even better! According to this PDF newsletter from a few months back, PSTA is slated to purchase 10 new hybrid buses. Three of these buses will be of the BRT style, similar to SCAT’s hybrid fleet, while the remaining seven buses will be trolley style, to run on the Suncoast Beach Trolley Line. You can begin seeing these buses in the PSTA fleet next year.

Today, PSTA has 24 hybrid buses, with plans to increase that fleet to 36 buses by the end of 2013! A portion of these buses are trolley-style, while the rest are BRT-style. The entire hybrid fleet was manufactured by Gillig Corporation out of Hayward, CA.

One of the neat things about hybrid buses of course is the fuel efficiency. In today’s world, where gas prices act like a roller coaster, PSTA felt it made the right choice when they purchased their first batch of hybrid buses back in 2008. The agency has seen their hybrid fleet take on an average increase of 56% in fuel economy, versus their standard diesel fueled buses. That’s a substantial difference! I have a very good feeling that as long as the funding avenues are open, you can expect to see even more hybrid buses incorporated into PSTA’s fleet over the next few years. Though I haven’t had a chance to ride a PSTA bus yet (aside from one of the stylish express motorcoaches), I certainly hope to be able to do so later this year.

Warmest Regards,

HARTride 2012

A co-branded livery hits the Paris Metro – Part 1

The MI 09 commuter rail train featuring co-branded RATP/STIF livery. Click here for photo details.

With the rolling stock transition soon coming to a close on Line 5, the RATP has already begun preparing for the next phase of rolling stock replenishment for Line 9. Line 9 currently possesses the aging MF 67 series D rolling stock, which are gradually reaching the ends of their useful lives. In 2011, the STIF voted to purchase 66 MF 2000 trains to replace the existing 70 MF 67 on Line 9. Because of changes in government policy (ORTF Law of 8 December 2009), the STIF is now required to fund replacement rolling stock by 50% and rolling stock for new lines or extensions by 100%. This eventually lead the STIF to fund the purchase of the MF 2000 rolling stock for Line 9, as well as the MP 05 rolling stock for Line 14.

With these two lines about to be equipped with new rolling stock, evidence of what has become the norm on the Parisian transport system has already been seen on the Paris Metro system…at least by a few so far. That new norm is a co-branded livery that features the white and mint green tones of the RATP, and the grey tones of the STIF (along with the string of leaflets). On SNCF-controlled rail lines, this co-branded livery comes in the form of the grey tones of the STIF and the shades of red of the SNCF. Though this co-branded livery presents a very unique and modern style for rolling stock, as well as buses, I have to say that the livery stops short of being anything close to “awesome”. In other words, I’m not really that thrilled to see the new livery, though things could have been much worse in my opinion.

The first co-branded livery appeared on renovated MI 79 trainsets (RER Line B) in 2011. This particular co-branded livery was unique in the sense that it included tones from all three agencies; the RATP, the STIF, and the SNCF, creating what I call an “organized colorful mess” of mint green, white, grey, and red. The co-branding trend quickly followed onto the numerous fleets of buses that the RATP has purchased since 2010, though in a more simpler form of green, grey, and white. In 2011, the MI 09 rolling stock (RER Line A) was unveiled with a co-branded livery featuring mint green vertical stripes down each door and a horizontal grey banner of the STIF. More recently, the new SNCF Z50000 suburban rail trains and the refurbished SNCF Z20500 commuter rail trains have received similar treatment with grey, white, and red tones, creating a fresh, modern look for both sets of rolling stock.

Now, we have the MF 2000 subway stock for Line 9 gracing a similar co-branded livery to that of the MI 09 commuter rail trains, with the green/white body replaced with grey/white tones and green vertical stripes along each door. This livery has officially marked the beginning of the new norm along the Paris Metro, where the RATP’s mint green and white livery has dominated the underground landscape since the early 1990s. With the MP 05 next on the list for Line 14 reinforcement, we can expect to see the blackend tones be replaced with a lighter shade of grey and the same vertical green stripes on the doors. Don’t think that I’m thrilled to see that happening either…because I’m really not.

Just putting in my 2 cents on the matter folks!

HARTride 2012

Some MI 84 commuter rail stock trains to be re-assigned…

I heard from the Symbioz forums a few days ago that the STIF is proposing to re-deploy twenty trainsets of the MI 84, the commuter rail rolling stock that is gradually being phased out from the RER Line A. This latest development appeared in a media release from the STIF dated February 13, 2013. The release is in French, so you will need a translating service to translate the document into your native language.

Until new rolling stock is ordered to replenish the aging fleet of trains along the RER Line D and Suburban Rail Line R, the STIF is proposing the use of outgoing MI 81 rolling stock to reinforce a portion of both lines for the meantime. The sections that would utilize the MI 81 include the Melun/Juvisy segment of the RER Line D and the Melun/Montereau branch of Suburban Rail Line R. The MI 81 stock along the RER Line A is currently being replaced with the new MI 09 stock, which was introduced in 2011.

Some in Paris may wonder why the MI 81 is being replaced before its predecessor, the MS 61. My understanding is that the MI 81, though similar to its counterpart on the RER Line B, the MI 79, the MI 81 was constructed in a cheaper manner than the MI 79, resulting in greater wear and tear. As a result of this, none of the MI 81 stock have been heavily refurbished, unlike the MS 61. However, it seems that the STIF can put some of the MI 81 trains to good use for a few more years because they will not need extensive refurbishment to run on the other lines, probably just some minor aesthetic and mechanical improvements.

In addition to the possible movement of the MI 81 stock to the RER Line D and Suburban Rail Line R, the STIF is also proposing to bring forth 12 Z2N commuter rail trains to the northern portion of the RER Line D to strengthen service. These trains would be transferred from Suburban Rail Line P, which is currently getting the brand new Z 50000 series rolling stock (known also as the Francilien).

 

HARTride 2012

Merry Christmas & the Year-End Transit Roundup!

Hi everyone!

I know that I’ve been lagging behind on posting as of late. I’ve been trying to get into a regular schedule, but November and December have been much busier than I thought. Holiday event planning is definitely no easy task, and I’ve been having to help my family out with several different events that took place during the past couple months. Add to that; my computer problems during August and September, and my hiatus from earlier in the year. I know that in the end, I probably let down some of my viewers, and I sincerely apologize for that. I hope that with the new year, I can finally devote some time to make some major updates.

For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I would like to wish you, and your family a very Merry Christmas! I certainly hope that you are able to enjoy this wonderful day, no matter where you are located!

With all this said, I would like to take some time to reflect back on some of the major transit-related developments that occurred in 2012. I have grouped everything by month, and color coded each event as they pertain to the particular focus region that I cover in my blog.

BLUE: Tampa Bay (HART, PSTA, MCAT, SCAT, PCPT, Hernando THEbus, Citrus County Transportation)

GREEN: Orlando Area (LYNX, SunRail)

RED: Hampton Roads, VA (HRT)

TEAL: New York City, NY (NYCMTA)

PURPLE: Paris, France (RATP, STIF, SNCF)

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HART unveils first MetroRapid bus!

Checking into my social media accounts this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the first MetroRapid bus has rolled into town! Yes, you heard me right, HART’s new MetroRapid buses have begun their cross-country trek from California to Tampa, with the first one arriving yesterday! You can view a Twitter photo of the bus from HART’s Twitter Feed. They also have posted the news on their Facebook Page.

I’m very much surprised by the release of the new buses. I did not actually think that the new MetroRapid buses would begin rolling out until maybe January, 2013 at the earliest. However, since construction of the MetroRapid system is moving along rather quickly, I guess it is better for HART to have the buses ready to roll by the time the system opens (after all, the buses have to be driven around Tampa so that drivers are accustomed to the new buses and any bugs are worked out).

My understanding is that the new buses are very similar to that of the 29XX and 10XX buses that HART added to their fleet in 2009 and 2010 respectively. However, the rear end of the bus has a similar styling to that of the 25XX buses. The interiors sport the same seating configuration as the 29XX and 10XX buses, but the color scheme is that of white, gray, and green tones to match the MetroRapid livery. It is also my understanding that HART will have 12 of these buses on the road when the first segment of the MetroRapid system opens in 2013 (I previously had mentioned 15, but because HART later decided to reduce frequency of the route from 10 minute peak headways/15 minute non-peak headways to 15 minute peak/20 minute non-peak, the number of buses to be purchased for the route was reduced to 12). The buses are manufactured by Gillig Corporation, based in Hayward, California (yes, that’s why they make that cross-country trip).

I hope to have more info on this up soon! 😀

Warmest Regards,

HARTride 2012.

USF Bull Runner

Post Updated on 10/14/15

Bull Runner website link has been updated, a link to the current Bull Runner system map has been added, and the bus fleet paragraph has been updated to include the 30-foot Gillig Low Floor buses.

Today’s post could not come at a perfect time, as I am preparing to graduate from the University of South Florida with my B.S. in Business Administration, with a focus in Marketing. 😀

During the month of July, I had an opportunity to tag along with former HART bus driver Jason Eames and local transit nerd Zac Ziegler as we stepped aboard the Bull Runner, which is the university owned and operated campus transit system. Jason previously worked with the USF Bull Runner system before coming to HART. Although my meeting with them was somewhat brief, it was definitely great to be able to meet them face to face at last as we rode on the Bull Runner Route C.

Unlike some universities, which rely on their municipal transit districts to provide on-campus public transit, USF has provided their own transit system for several years now. They even have their own bus fleet, which comprises of several Startrans and Glaval minibuses, several 30-foot Blue Bird and Thomas-Dennis buses, and several Gillig Low Floor 30 and 40-foot buses.

The USF Bull Runner system comprises of six routes; three of them travel to various off-campus destinations, such as apartment complexes where USF students reside.

  • Route A: Campus Green Loop (serves many major points within the USF campus, including the Marshall Student Center, in a counter-clockwise direction)
  • Route B: USF Health Line (serves the USF Health area of the campus)
  • Route C: Off-Campus North Line (serves various apartment complexes to the north of the campus)
  • Route D: Off-Campus West Line (serves University Mall, HART’s University Area Transit Center, and various apartment complexes to the west of the campus)
  • Route E: Campus Gold Loop (serves many major points within the USF campus, including the Marshall Student Center, in a clockwise direction)
  • Route F: Off-Campus South Line (serves MOSI, Busch Gardens/Adventure Island, and various apartment complexes to the east and south of the campus)

View a current map of the Bull Runner system (last updated for the Fall 2015 semester).

Although the buses I mentioned above can be assigned to any of the six routes at any given time, the Gillig Low Floor buses are usually assigned to Route C, due to it seeing the highest ridership of all of the routes. Route C is also the most congested of the six routes during peak times of the fall and spring semester, which is usually between the hours of 9am and 3pm, Monday through Thursday, when most students tend to take their classes.

To use the USF Bull Runner; you must be a USF Student, Faculty, or Staff member with a USF ID card. Visitors may purchase a daily visitor bus pass.

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