Category Archives: Special Events

Gasparilla 2017

Side angle of #1506.
Beat the parking and traffic hassles this Gasparilla parade by using HART!

Pirates, and Beads, and Transit…oh my!

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 & 14 WILL 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.

The Cross-Bay Ferry will NOT OPERATE!!!

For those hoping to hitch a ride on the ferry this Saturday, sorry folks! This is due to US Coast Guard regulations in place during the parade.


And remember, please party responsibly. Don’t drink and drive, and don’t text and drive.


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

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Legalese | Disclosures

(Note: All links above have been updated to reflect the new website)

Use transit for FREE on Election Day!

Tomorrow, August 30, 2016 is Primary Election Day, and many transit agencies are pitching in to make sure that you can get to the polls!

In the Tampa Bay Area; HART, PSTA, SCAT, and PCPT are allowing respective county residents with a valid voter ID card to hop on board the bus for FREE. Restrictions do apply, so please be sure to contact your respective transit agency for details.

HART bus service during the 2016 Tampa Bay AirFest

HART AirFest 2016 Transportation Banner 1

It’s that time again…time for the Tampa Bay Air Fest and all of the awesomeness that it brings! This year’s event will be held on Saturday, March 19, 2016 and Sunday, March 20, 2016.

As with previous events, traffic congestion throughout South Tampa will be very heavy, so you will want to leave early and be prepared to brave the crowds…both at the event and while on the road. If you want to avoid the traffic and parking hassles, I strongly encourage you to use transit to get to and from the event. As with many previous events, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) is partnering with MacDill Air Force Base to provide bus transportation via a modified Route 4. Route 4 normally operates hourly on weekdays only, but will be operating roughly every 15 minutes on both days.

The scene from the 2014 AirFest. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

Escape the traffic hassles! Use HART!

Gates will open at 8:00am, but as in years past, you can expect to see cars lining up as early as 7:00am or earlier. Why sit in traffic and worry about if you’ll even get a parking space when you can leave the driving to HART?

image

  • Route 4 Shuttle Service
    • The Route 4 Shuttle will operate every 15 minutes depending on traffic, with buses running southbound beginning at 8:00am from the Marion Transit Center in downtown Tampa. Northbound buses will begin running at 9:00am from MacDill AFB. Southbound service will end at 3:00pm, or slightly earlier depending on event capacity. Final northbound buses will begin leaving the base at 5:00pm.
    • Buses will follow the normal Route 4 weekday route on both days, but the segment south of Britton Plaza will be modified due to congestion and some normal bus stops will not be served. This is to help keep buses moving and spacing between buses consistent.
    • Please keep in mind that OneBusAway tracking may not be available for this service.
  • Normal Route 19 Service
    • Route 19 will operate on its normal weekend route and schedule. Some buses may see delays due to base traffic. Since Route 19 interlines with Route 18 on weekends, Route 18 customers should expect delays in their buses arriving as well.
  • Modified Route 36 Service
    • Because of heavy traffic, Route 36 will terminate at Britton Plaza and will only operate its normal route and schedule between Britton Plaza and the transfer point at Fletcher Ave and Dale Mabry Hwy.

For Air Fest 2014, I made a map showing the routing of all three above routes. Please keep in mind that the routing of Route 4 could change as it gets closer to the event. Please review HART’s blog post for any additional info.

Trying to figure out which bus goes where. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.
Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

For those driving to the event.

For those of you who wish to drive to Air Fest (or are coming in from another county), there will be something different this year. The Dale Mabry, MacDill Ave, and Tanker Way (Manhattan/Interbay) Gates will all open for inbound traffic to help alleviate the heavy congestion that has plagued South Tampa streets in years past. The Bayshore Blvd gate, as in past years, will only be open to military personnel with a valid ID. There is no cost for parking at the event.

With that said, here’s the main arterial highways that will get you to the AirFest.

  • From Central and South Pinellas County via Gandy Blvd.
    • If you’re coming from the southern Gulf Beaches, south and central St. Pete, and Gulfport, you can use I-275 north to Exit 28 – Gandy Blvd. Travel Gandy Blvd eastbound across the Gandy Bridge until you reach Dale Mabry Hwy (intersection immediately after the Selmon Exwy). Turn right onto Dale Mabry and proceed to the MacDill AFB gate.
    • If you’re coming from Seminole, Largo, and other points within central Pinellas, just follow Gandy Blvd eastbound to Dale Mabry Hwy (intersection immediately after the Selmon Exwy). Turn right onto Dale Mabry and proceed to the MacDill AFB gate.
  • From Northern Pinellas County and Western Pasco/Hernando/Citrus Counties.
    • Those coming from Clearwater, Tarpon Springs, the northern Gulf Beaches and other points north can use either the Courtney Campbell Causeway (SR 60 east) and follow the signs to Kennedy Blvd (SR 60 east). Continue along Kennedy until you reach Dale Mabry Hwy (US 92 west). Turn right onto Dale Mabry and proceed to the MacDill AFB gate.
    • Alternatively, you can use Gandy Blvd eastbound to Dale Mabry Hwy southbound.
  • From Northwest Hillsborough County, Central Pasco/Hernando Counties, and Eastern Citrus County via Dale Mabry Hwy.
    • If coming from West Tampa, Drew Park, Carrollwood, Town-N-Country, Citrus Park, and Lutz, you can simply use Dale Mabry Hwy southbound until you reach the MacDill AFB gate.
    • If coming from central Pasco County and northward, proceed on US 41 south until you reach Dale Mabry Hwy (SR 597) southbound. Fork right onto Dale Mabry and proceed southbound until you reach the MacDill AFB gate.
    • An alternate to the northern portion of Dale Mabry is the Veterans Exwy/Suncoast Pkwy. Use the highway to reach Kennedy Blvd (SR 60) east. Then proceed on Kennedy until you reach Dale Mabry Hwy (US 92 west). Turn right onto Dale Mabry and proceed to the MacDill AFB gate. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND that the Veterans Exwy/Suncoast Pkwy are TOLL ROADS!
  • From Northeast Hillsborough County and Eastern Pasco/Hernando Counties.
    • If coming from the New Tampa and USF areas, you can use I-275 south towards downtown Tampa. Be sure to follow the signs towards St. Petersburg when approaching the I-4 junction. From there, use Exit 41A/B – Dale Mabry Hwy southbound (US 92 west). Turn left onto Dale Mabry and proceed south to the MacDill AFB gate.
    • If coming from eastern Pasco and Hernando counties, use I-75 south to I-275 (Exit 274) south and follow the directions above. After merging onto I-275 south, travel to Exit 41A/B – Dale Mabry Hwy southbound (US 92 west). Turn left onto Dale Mabry and proceed south to the MacDill AFB gate.
    • Alternatively, you can use the I-4/Selmon Connector (I-4 Exit 2) to connect to the Selmon westbound and exit off Gandy Blvd east (Exit 1A). From there, turn right at Dale Mabry Hwy south (very first light as soon as you get off the expressway) and proceed to the MacDill AFB gate. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND that the Selmon Exwy (including the Connector from I-4) are TOLL ROADS.
  • From Eastern Hillsborough County, Polk County, and the Orlando Area via I-4.
    • If travelling along I-4 towards Tampa from East Hillsborough and beyond, simply follow the signs to I-275 south to St. Petersburg. Once on I-275, After merging onto I-275 south, travel to Exit 41A/B – Dale Mabry Hwy southbound (US 92 west). Turn left onto Dale Mabry and proceed south to the MacDill AFB gate.
    • Alternatively, you can use the I-4/Selmon Connector (I-4 Exit 2) to connect to the Selmon westbound and exit off Gandy Blvd east (Exit 1A). From there, turn right at Dale Mabry Hwy south (very first light as soon as you get off the expressway) and proceed to the MacDill AFB gate. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND that the Selmon Exwy (including the Connector from I-4) are TOLL ROADS.
  • From Southern Hillsborough County and Manatee/Sarasota Counties via I-75 and the Selmon Exwy.
    • If coming from South Hillsborough County and points southward, use I-75 north to the Selmon Exwy (Exit 256) and proceed through downtown Tampa to Exit 1A (Gandy Blvd East). From there, turn right at Dale Mabry Hwy south (very first light as soon as you get off the expressway) and proceed to the MacDill AFB gate. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND that the Selmon Exwy is a TOLL ROAD.
    • If you do not wish to use the Selmon, you can use SR 60 (Exit 257 from I-75 north) and proceed through the Channelside District and downtown Tampa to Bayshore Blvd via Channelside Dr and Brorien St. Turn right from Bayshore Blvd to Bay to Bay Blvd, and then left on Dale Mabry Hwy. Proceed south on Dale Mabry until you reach the MacDill AFB gate.
  • From Manatee/Sarasota Counties via I-275 and Gandy Blvd.
    • If you use I-275/Sunshine Skyway from Manatee County, proceed northbound on I-275 to Exit 28 – Gandy Blvd. Travel Gandy Blvd eastbound across the Gandy Bridge until you reach Dale Mabry Hwy (intersection immediately after the Selmon Exwy). Turn right onto Dale Mabry and proceed to the MacDill AFB gate.

For those using bicycles, roller blades, etc.

Although bicycles, roller blades, etc. are acceptable modes of transport to the base, they are not allowed on the flight line (the zone within the gated event area). Bike racks will be provided near the event gates so that you can lock up your bike securely. Those using roller blades, etc. should have a backpack to stow them away in (large tote bags are not allowed at the event).

Be sure to NOT bring anything with you that wouldn't be allowed through an airport security checkpoint.
Be sure to NOT bring anything with you that wouldn’t be allowed through an airport security checkpoint.

Other tips to keep in mind.

  • ARRIVE EARLY! Gates open at 8:00am on both Saturday and Sunday. However, lines of cars will start forming even before 7:00am. If you’re driving from another county, or using the HART bus system, please plan your trip accordingly. For HART Customers, you can use the OneBusAway app for real-time bus arrival times.
  • LIMITED PARKING. While parking is free at the event, there are only so many spaces available. Once all of the designated parking lots are full, base officials will close the Dale Mabry gate to all arriving traffic. This is why it’s strongly encouraged to use the HART bus system and its convenient Route 4 Shuttle Service.
  • PACK ITEMS CAREFULLY. While you definitely want to make sure you have water with you, please be considerate of what you take with you to the event. The event gates, as in years past, will have a tented airport-style security checkpoint. Basically anything that prohibited at the airport will be prohibited at the event (including firearms). Coolers, glass containers, pets (except service dogs), and fireworks are also prohibited.

Any further questions or concerns regarding the AirFest should be directed to MacDill AFB officials. Questions or concerns about transit services should be directed to HART Customer Service. HART can be contacted at 813-254-4278.

Official Air Fest Webpage | Official MacDill AFB Facebook Page.

Enjoy the Air Fest weekend!

HARTride 2012

Gasparilla 2016

Side angle of #1506.
Beat the parking and traffic hassles this Gasparilla parade by using HART!

Pirates, and Beads, and Transit…oh my!

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 30, starting at 2:00pm.

Roadway Closures and Parking Info

On Friday, January 29, the day before the parade (that is TODAY 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 ABC Action News 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 & 14 WILL 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 9:00am 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 will offer trolley service from Dick Greco Plaza to the Marion Transit Center to allow for speedy travel between northern Downtown and the parade route. Service will commence at 9:00am and run roughly every 15 to 20 minutes through 6:00pm.

And remember, please party responsibly. Don’t drink and drive, and don’t text and drive.

Gasparilla 2015

Pirates, and Beads, and Transit…oh my!

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 31, starting at 2:00pm.

Roadway Closures and Parking Info

On Friday, January 30, the day before the parade, many area roadways will begin to shut down. Although exact times haven’t been announced, this post will be updated as soon as they are. Last year, Bayshore Blvd began to close down at 10:00pm the night before the parade. 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 park. Also, keep in mind that many streets will be closed throughout the area. Please be sure to bring cash, because some lots may only accept cash as payment. Also, 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, please visit the HART website, as information can change between now and the day of the parade. Also, HART may be posting detailed maps of detoured bus routes as it gets closer to the parade.

Routes 7, 8, 14, 19, & 30 will be detoured! Please plan your trip accordingly! Below is a listing of how buses were detoured last year. This may be different this year, so please stay tuned for further updates.

  • Routes 7 & 14 WILL 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 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 and will only serve selected stations during selected times of the day. However, the Dick Greco Plaza, Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union, and Centennial Park stations will be served all day. The Whiting station will be CLOSED all day.
  • Feeder bus shuttles will pick up passengers at Dick Greco Plaza, Cumberland Ave, Cadrecha Plaza, and Streetcar Society stations to help get customers between various parking venues and the parade route.
  • The In-Town Trolleybus will offer service from Dick Greco Plaza to the Marion Transit Center to allow for speedy travel between northern Downtown and the parade route.

See a detailed map with information on detoured bus routes, feeder bus service to the streetcar, and which streetcar stations will be open/closed. You can also read HART’s blog for information.

And remember, please party responsibly. Don’t drink and drive, and don’t text and drive.

HRT December 2014 Roundup – Includes January, 2015 Service Changes

There have been lots of happenings recently with Hampton Roads Transit! Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.
There have been lots of happenings recently with Hampton Roads Transit! Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

Let’s talk transit in Hampton Roads, VA. In addition to some bus service changes that have rolled out in the past month – and still to come, officials at Hampton Roads Transit have been talking about other issues affecting the area’s transit system. In this roundup post, I’m going to be discussing some of these happenings. Let’s take a look!

Connect Hampton Roads Survey

If you reside in the Hampton Roads area, chances are, you’ve at least heard about the Connect Hampton Roads plan, and perhaps have even taken the survey. If you haven’t heard about Connect Hampton Roads yet, then let me tell you briefly about it. The Connect Hampton Roads plan is aimed at asking the public for input as to what they need as far as better public transportation, as well as get the public more engaged in talking about public transportation in their area. These needs range from enhanced local and express bus service, to expanded passenger rail, to a network of Park-N-Ride lots, and more! With arterial highways becoming more congested, the need for better transit could not be more clear.

In late November/early December, the results of the Connect Hampton Roads survey were compiled, and HRT intends to use the results to present a comprehensive transit development plan to bring forth better transit service. Some other suggestions from respondents include more bus shelters, real-time transit information, and cleaner and safer buses.

NEWS LINK – Read more about what people are saying.

Emergency Snow Routes

Following a devastating transit shutdown due to several snow storms during early 2014, HRT has approved plans for 11 emergency bus routes that would be activated if sustained snowfall exceeds 6 inches. Corridors will receive priority snow plowing to allow buses to traverse when needed, thus allowing customers to return home without fearing that they’ll be suddenly stranded by heavy snowfall.

Routes will be distinguished by color and stops designated with a snowflake sign in that route’s color. Service will operate 6:00am until 8:00pm Monday through Saturday if activated. Sunday service will not be provided, and paratransit services would also not run, since regular bus service would be suspended during such emergencies. It is currently unclear if light rail service would be able to operate during emergencies.

Route maps are currently being formulated and should be available towards the end of 2014.

Adopt-A-Stop

Faced with a continuing budget crunch, HRT has found itself in a messy situation…literally. You may have seen the photos from local bloggers of trash cans overflowing at bus stops, as well as vandalized shelters. It’s something that no transit agency wants to have to endure with. However, with limited funding, HRT can no longer maintain upkeep of its many high volume bus stops. Instead of sitting around and letting the problem fester, HRT has decided to ask the community for help.

Similar to many Adopt-A-Highway or Adopt-A-Road programs in many states, HRT’s Adopt-A-Stop program allows members of the community, including businesses and non-profit organizations, to help keep bus stops clean. The program is free of charge, but sponsors are asked to sponsor a stop for at least one year. The sponsor would pick up trash at their chosen stop and report any issues, like broken shelter Plexiglas and graffiti to the agency. Each sponsored stop will get its own Adopt-A-Stop designation sign with the name of the sponsoring individual or entity.

Anyone interested in sponsoring an HRT bus stop will need to turn in an application to the agency to be considered. Further information is available on the HRT website.

Tidewater Community College to return to GoPass 365

After pulling out of the unlimited ride pass program last year, Tidewater Community College (TCC) has come to an agreement with HRT to participate in the revised program. Changes to the GoPass 365 program were made during the course of 2013 because the previous program resulted in a massive loss in revenue for HRT, despite high ridership.

NEWS LINK – Learn more about how the agreement was made and what TCC students can expect.

January, 2015 Service Changes

For its January, 2015 markup, HRT is implementing schedule/timetable changes to Routes 4, 41, 45, 118, and 918. Additionally, there will be a routing change to Route 41 by which it will serve the Victory Crossing Transfer Center from the south instead of from the north. The current segment via Victory Blvd will be eliminated in favor of a more direct route along Greenwood Dr and McLean St. A map of this change is depicted below.

Changes being made to HRT Route 41. Credit: Hampton Roads Transit (HRT).
Changes being made to HRT Route 41. Credit: Hampton Roads Transit (HRT).

Other Route Changes

  • Route 45: Evening trips from the Downtown Norfolk Transfer Center (the 7:20 pm, 7:50 pm, 8:20 pm & 9:20 pm trips) will depart earlier to improve on time performance and transfer connections at the transfer point at County and Court.
  • Route 918: One AM and one PM trip will be added. The AM trip will depart Silverleaf Park & Ride lot at 7:00 am.  The PM trip will depart Lafayette River Annex at 3:30 pm.

New timetables will become available closer to the time that these changes take effect.

Let PSTA be your ride to PRIDE

Escape the traffic hassles during St. Pete PRIDE! Use PSTA!

Ride PSTA

Who:Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA)
What: Encouraging revelers to avoid traffic and parking hassles by riding PSTA to and from St. Pete Pride
HowNew riders can call the PSTA InfoLine (727) 540-1900 for guidance
Where: Along the Central Avenue corridor. Check the PSTA Rider Alert page for service detours for the weekend’s events
Why:  To reduce traffic congestion and provide a cool, comfortable and convenient transportation alternative
WhenJune 27-29, 2014

st-pete-pride-paradeThe biggest celebration of its kind in the state of Florida just got bigger.  The St. Pete Pride Street Festival and Promenade will now make up a full weekend of celebration. Whether you’re going to the parade on Saturday or the Street Festival on Sunday,  you don’t have to fight traffic or struggle to find a parking spot if you let PSTA be your ride to Pride.

PSTA buses will…

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My experience using HART for Tampa’s AirFest

Boarding the Route 4 "shuttle" bus to the Tampa Bay AirFest. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012, March, 2014.
Boarding the Route 4 “shuttle” bus to the Tampa Bay AirFest. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012, March, 2014.

This past March, I had the opportunity to use the HART bus system during the Tampa Bay AirFest at MacDill Air Force Base. I specifically got to use the Route 4 “shuttle” service, which ran every 15 minutes on a modified route throughout the day on March 22nd and 23rd. Using HART during this event allowed me to escape the mounting traffic jams and parking issues that AirFest normally brings each year that it is held (there was no event held in 2002, 2012, and 2013).

In past years, I’ve ended up driving to the event because I lived relatively close to the base and was able to leave early enough to escape the midday traffic backups that turn Dale Mabry Highway into a sea of vehicles. This year was different because I didn’t want to deal with all of the traffic and parking hassles. By the time the base gates had opened for AirFest, there were already long lines of vehicles wanting to get in. As in previous years as well, the Dale Mabry Hwy gate was really the only point of egress, although the MacDill Ave gate did open to entry traffic for a time. I don’t think a lot of people knew about that though.

So instead of driving to the base, I parked my car at Britton Plaza, which has a shelter that serves HART routes 4, 19, 36, the South Tampa Flex route, and PSTA’s Route 100X. After securing my car, I walked up to the shelter, where a southbound bus to the base was waiting, along with a northbound bus that was heading back to downtown Tampa. I immediately noticed other people parking their cars and hopping aboard the bus as well. Britton Plaza’s parking lot can vary greatly depending on the day of the week, time of day, and whether it’s a busy shopping period (such as around holidays). From my observation, the lot had to be at about 75% capacity, and I’m sure a portion of vehicles were not parked there because people were shopping…this was the “unofficial” Park-N-Ride lot for AirFest.

Now Route 4, along with the South Tampa Flex, and Route 100X, typically run only on weekdays. However, when HART’s budget allows, Route 4 will be modified during the AirFest to run as a weekend “shuttle” with frequencies similar to the MetroRapid North-South Line. During this operation, some normal Route 4 stops are not served due to buses running a limited stop operation. There were two years, by which HART did not run the shuttle due to budgetary constraints; 2008 and 2011.

Knowing that exact change is required, I went to the ATM machine and had Publix break my large dollar bills before I boarded the bus. Having exact change, and having that change ready before boarding, is the most efficient way to use transit if paying with cash. This is because you’re not impeding the boarding process by having to dig through and pull out a wad of dollar bills or a handful of coins. If you have a ton of large bills, you may be out of luck because operators are not allowed to handle change.

Photo Credit: HARTride 2012, March, 2014.
On board one of HART’s  swanky new buses. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012, March, 2014.

Once aboard the bus (which by the way, was one of HART’s relatively new 2013-series Gillig Low Floor buses), I noticed a good amount of people already on board, with some coming from downtown. As I took my seat, I saw that a lot of people were still boarding, which was definitely a good sign that many within Hillsborough County had heeded the warnings of long traffic jams and decided to use the bus as an alternate method of getting to the AirFest! By the time the bus had left, it was near-standing room only for the entire trip!

Accounting for traffic entering the MacDill Ave gate, it took about 25 minutes to travel from Britton Plaza to Bayshore Blvd gate. During this portion of the trip, I was able to talk with a fellow passenger who became concerned that there may not be enough buses to keep the 15 minute frequency intact. I noted that while this may be the case, weekends typically don’t require that all buses be deployed at the same time. So if worst-case scenario things can be tweaked to run more efficiently.

I also mentioned about how HART has been losing buses due to limited funds, and that many improvements would require a referendum to be passed. She then brought up Greenlight Pinellas for a moment and how vital it is to Pinellas County. She hopes that Greenlight will be able to pass, and I agreed with her. Although PSTA has been fortunate to get funding to replace older buses, much of this funding is coming from federal sources that will soon run out. Once those funds run dry, PSTA will wind up in the same situation as HART, unless a referendum is passed.

When the HART bus reached the Bayshore gate, military police forces walked up and began to examine if there was anything suspicious. For a moment, everyone got up from their seats, thinking that an ID check would be required (it wasn’t…at least for the bus I was on). As I looked out the window, I noticed one service member using a device to scan the underside of the bus to make sure there were no explosives or other suspicious items hidden underneath. Another service member actually boarded the bus and was required to be on board for the entire duration that the particular bus was on the base. In years past, where HART ran the Route 4 “shuttle”, buses were not allowed on base and had to turn around at the gate. This year was different because buses were allowed to travel in a counter-clockwise pattern to a boarding area just northeast of Hangar 1.

Arriving at the AirFest event area. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012, March, 2014.
Arriving at the AirFest event area. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012, March, 2014.

Upon arrival at the boarding area, passengers were directed to follow a walkway that was fenced on either side by those barriers that you typically see at parades. The walkway led into the parking area, by which the event entrance was just to the left. As in past events since 2001, a tent was set up with airport-style security screening. However, as long as one did not bring prohibited items, there wasn’t really any problems. No lengthy lines either! All in all, I managed to spend a good two and half hours at the Tampa Bay AirFest, all the way through the USAF Thunderbirds doing their aerial performance. It was definitely quite a sight to see!

On my way back to the bus boarding area, I noticed that four HART buses had parked, all in a “lineup” formation. I figured that this was because the day was beginning to come to a close and that all inbound trips would be ending at 4pm, being that all buses from that point onward would only be running outbound trips. The bus ride back to Britton Plaza was also standing room only, including a lady with three children with her. It was definitely a wonderful experience to not only ride HART to and from AirFest, but to also see a good amount of riders taking advantage of the shuttle as well! If only the HART system was better funded, could they bring forth even more service and attract more riders.

Many buses were at or near standing room only. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012, March, 2014.
Many buses were at or near standing room only. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012, March, 2014.

With all of this said, I know some of you may be asking; why do I drive from A to B when I used to use transit so regularly? The reason is because there isn’t enough funding to be able to expand the HART system beyond current levels, which causes a huge inefficiency throughout the system. This is especially the case in unincorporated Hillsborough County, where transit services tend to be a lot more scarce. With the recent drop in funds caused by the recent recession, HART can no longer afford to purchase new buses outside of ones that are replacing outdated fleets.

In fact, HART can barely even keep up with replacing buses that have reached the ends of their useful lives. As I’ve mentioned earlier in this post, as well as in past posts, HART has been steadily losing buses since 2010 and will continue to do so unless they are able to obtain funding from other sources, or…a transit referendum, similar to Greenlight Pinellas, passes. Without a dedicated funding source for transit in place, recently talked about plans for improved bus service between downtown Tampa and Tampa International Airport, among many other aspirations, will never be able to materialize.

In my case, with Brandon and Riverview being underserved by transit, I can’t use transit to connect between these two areas, let alone being able to have an efficient connection between South Tampa and Brandon. This lack of transit connectivity really becomes problematic during evening and weekend hours, when I’m usually working. For instance, my workplace lies in an area with no transit routes. The closest bus line is Route 46, which only runs on weekdays and ends service after 8pm. To get to the closest bus stop is even a challenge, as one would have to walk over a mile to do so.

To close out this post, I would like to mention that as I was planning things out for this very post, I was contacted by HART’s Public Information Officer in regards to this very topic. I was very privileged to be able to share my transit experiences with her, and you may be seeing my comments in an upcoming A Community With HART newsletter!

Have a great week!

HARTride 2012.

HART bus services during MacDill Air Fest 2014

A scene from the 2010 MacDill AirFest. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.
A scene from the 2010 MacDill AirFest. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

Updated on 3/19/14.

After a year and a half hiatus, the Air Fest (now known as the Tampa Bay AirFest) at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa is returning! The event will be held during the weekend of March 22 and 23, 2014. As many here in the Bay Area will recall, the 2013 event was cancelled due to federal sequestration cuts that wiped out a vast majority of US military community outreach events that were planned nationwide.

This year allowed for many outreach events to be held throughout the US, but on a different scale than in previous years. Since Washington is now only willing to fund so much for these outreach events, local communities have had to step up to the plate in more ways than ever before to make sure that the show goes on. In MacDill’s case, this meant a brand new focus that points more towards civilian displays and demonstrations.

As with past year events, the Air Fest will bring tons and tons of traffic headaches and bus route detours to the South Tampa area. Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) has been working closely with MacDill to make sure that buses aren’t getting stuck and delayed with the influx of personal vehicles, while staying within their allowed budget.

Escape the traffic hassles! Use HART!

Gates will open at 8:00am, but as in years past, you can expect to see cars lining up as early as 7:00am or earlier. Why sit in traffic and worry about if you’ll even get a parking space when you can leave the driving to HART?

  • Route 4 Shuttle Service
    • Back by popular demand is the Route 4 Shuttle Service. This shuttle will operate every 15 minutes, with buses running southbound beginning at 8:00am from the Marion Transit Center in downtown Tampa. Northbound buses will begin running at 9:00am from MacDill AFB. Southbound service will end at 4:00pm, with the last northbound bus leaving the base at 6:00pm.
    • Different this year, buses will be allowed to enter the base throughout the day. Buses will travel their normal weekday routing from the Marion Transit Center in downtown Tampa to MacDill Ave and Gandy Blvd via Britton Plaza. The deviation in the route then begins with buses traversing Gandy Blvd to Bayshore Blvd and into the base via the Bayshore Gate. Once on base, buses will travel west along South Boundary Blvd, then south on Hangar Loop Dr, then east on Florida Keys Ave, north on Hillsborough Loop Dr/Gull Pl, then east on Centcom Dr, and north on Bayshore towards Britton Plaza and downtown Tampa.
  • Normal Route 19 Service
    • Route 19 will operate on its normal weekend route and schedule. Some buses may see delays due to base traffic.
  • Modified Route 36 Service
    • Because of heavy traffic, Route 36 will terminate at Britton Plaza and will only operate its normal route between Britton Plaza and Fletcher/Dale Mabry. The route will operate every hour from 6:00am until 7:00pm. Route 36 will follow the regular weekend schedule (per HART).

Click here for a map I made of all three above routes. Click here for a flyer summarizing Route 4 and 36 services from HART.

For those driving to the event.

For those of you who wish to drive to Air Fest (or are coming in from another county), please keep in mind that the main and only point of egress is the Dale Mabry Hwy gate! The MacDill Ave gate, which serves as a secondary gate to the base, may only be open to allow traffic to exit the base. The Bayshore Blvd gate, as in past years, will only be open to military personnel with a valid ID. There is no cost for parking at the event.

With that said, here’s the main arterial highways that will get you to the AirFest.

  • From Central and South Pinellas County via Gandy Blvd.
    • If you’re coming from the southern Gulf Beaches, south and central St. Pete, and Gulfport, you can use I-275 north to Exit 28 – Gandy Blvd. Travel Gandy Blvd eastbound across the Gandy Bridge until you reach Dale Mabry Hwy (intersection immediately after the Selmon Exwy). Turn right onto Dale Mabry and proceed to the MacDill AFB gate.
    • If you’re coming from Seminole, Largo, and other points within central Pinellas, just follow Gandy Blvd eastbound to Dale Mabry Hwy (intersection immediately after the Selmon Exwy). Turn right onto Dale Mabry and proceed to the MacDill AFB gate.
  • From Northern Pinellas County and Western Pasco/Hernando/Citrus Counties.
    • Those coming from Clearwater, Tarpon Springs, the northern Gulf Beaches and other points north can use either the Courtney Campbell Causeway (SR 60 east) and follow the signs to Kennedy Blvd (SR 60 east). Continue along Kennedy until you reach Dale Mabry Hwy (US 92 west). Turn right onto Dale Mabry and proceed to the MacDill AFB gate.
    • Alternatively, you can use Gandy Blvd eastbound to Dale Mabry Hwy southbound.
  • From Northwest Hillsborough County, Central Pasco/Hernando Counties, and Eastern Citrus County via Dale Mabry Hwy.
    • If coming from West Tampa, Drew Park, Carrollwood, Town-N-Country, Citrus Park, and Lutz, you can simply use Dale Mabry Hwy southbound until you reach the MacDill AFB gate.
    • If coming from central Pasco County and northward, proceed on US 41 south until you reach Dale Mabry Hwy (SR 597) southbound. Fork right onto Dale Mabry and proceed southbound until you reach the MacDill AFB gate.
    • An alternate to the northern portion of Dale Mabry is the Veterans Exwy/Suncoast Pkwy. Use the highway to reach Kennedy Blvd (SR 60) east. Then proceed on Kennedy until you reach Dale Mabry Hwy (US 92 west). Turn right onto Dale Mabry and proceed to the MacDill AFB gate. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND that the Veterans Exwy/Suncoast Pkwy are TOLL ROADS!
  • From Northeast Hillsborough County and Eastern Pasco/Hernando Counties.
    • If coming from the New Tampa and USF areas, you can use I-275 south towards downtown Tampa. Be sure to follow the signs towards St. Petersburg when approaching the I-4 junction. From there, use Exit 41A/B – Dale Mabry Hwy southbound (US 92 west). Turn left onto Dale Mabry and proceed south to the MacDill AFB gate.
    • If coming from eastern Pasco and Hernando counties, use I-75 south to I-275 (Exit 274) south and follow the directions above. After merging onto I-275 south, travel to Exit 41A/B – Dale Mabry Hwy southbound (US 92 west). Turn left onto Dale Mabry and proceed south to the MacDill AFB gate.
    • Alternatively, you can use the newly opened I-4/Selmon Connector (I-4 Exit 2) to connect to the Selmon westbound and exit off Gandy Blvd east (Exit 1A). From there, turn right at Dale Mabry Hwy south (very first light as soon as you get off the expressway) and proceed to the MacDill AFB gate. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND that the Selmon Exwy (including the Connector from I-4) are TOLL ROADS.
  • From Eastern Hillsborough County, Polk County, and the Orlando Area via I-4.
    • If travelling along I-4 towards Tampa from East Hillsborough and beyond, simply follow the signs to I-275 south to St. Petersburg. Once on I-275, After merging onto I-275 south, travel to Exit 41A/B – Dale Mabry Hwy southbound (US 92 west). Turn left onto Dale Mabry and proceed south to the MacDill AFB gate.
    • Alternatively, you can use the newly opened I-4/Selmon Connector (I-4 Exit 2) to connect to the Selmon westbound and exit off Gandy Blvd east (Exit 1A). From there, turn right at Dale Mabry Hwy south (very first light as soon as you get off the expressway) and proceed to the MacDill AFB gate. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND that the Selmon Exwy (including the Connector from I-4) are TOLL ROADS.
  • From Southern Hillsborough County and Manatee/Sarasota Counties via I-75 and the Selmon Exwy.
    • If coming from South Hillsborough County and points southward, use I-75 north to the Selmon Exwy (Exit 256) and proceed through downtown Tampa to Exit 1A (Gandy Blvd East). From there, turn right at Dale Mabry Hwy south (very first light as soon as you get off the expressway) and proceed to the MacDill AFB gate. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND that the Selmon Exwy is a TOLL ROAD.
    • If you do not wish to use the Selmon, you can use SR 60 (Exit 257 from I-75 north) and proceed through the Channelside District and downtown Tampa to Bayshore Blvd via Channelside Dr and Brorien St. Turn right from Bayshore Blvd to Bay to Bay Blvd, and then left on Dale Mabry Hwy. Proceed south on Dale Mabry until you reach the MacDill AFB gate.
  • From Manatee/Sarasota Counties via I-275 and Gandy Blvd.
    • If you use I-275/Sunshine Skyway from Manatee County, proceed northbound on I-275 to Exit 28 – Gandy Blvd. Travel Gandy Blvd eastbound across the Gandy Bridge until you reach Dale Mabry Hwy (intersection immediately after the Selmon Exwy). Turn right onto Dale Mabry and proceed to the MacDill AFB gate.

For those using bicycles, roller blades, etc.

Although bicycles, roller blades, etc. are acceptable modes of transport to the base, they are not allowed on the flight line (the zone within the gated event area). Bike racks will be provided near the event gates so that you can lock up your bike securely. Those using roller blades, etc. should have a backpack to stow them away in (large tote bags are not allowed at the event).

Other tips to keep in mind.

  • ARRIVE EARLY! Gates open at 8:00am on both Saturday and Sunday. However, lines of cars will start forming even before 7:00am. If you’re driving from another county, or using the HART bus system, please plan your trip accordingly. For HART Customers, you can use the OneBusAway app for real-time bus arrival times.
  • LIMITED PARKING. While parking is free at the event, there are only so many spaces available. Once all of the designated parking lots are full, base officials will close the Dale Mabry gate to all arriving traffic. This is why it’s strongly encouraged to use the HART bus system and its convenient Route 4 Shuttle Service.
  • PACK ITEMS CAREFULLY. While you definitely want to make sure you have water with you, please be considerate of what you take with you to the event. The event gates, as in years past, will have a tented airport-style security checkpoint. Basically anything that prohibited at the airport will be prohibited at the event (including firearms). Coolers, glass containers, pets (except service dogs), and fireworks are also prohibited.

Click here to go to the official AirFest webpage. Also, don’t forget to follow the official MacDill AFB Facebook Page.

Enjoy the AirFest weekend!

HARTride 2012

UPDATE: Sequester cuts force cancellation of MacDill AirFest 2013

It’s official folks, there will be no AirFest this April at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa due to the dreaded “Sequester” cuts, according to various local media sources.

Though I do not wish to get in too deep on political matters, it is a huge disappointment for many who were hoping to see the event during the month of April, as well as local and even state government officials who were looking forward to seeing the economic impact that the event brings each year.

Read more on the cancellation here.

For HART, it will be just business as usual on the weekend of April 6 (this was confirmed to me by HART staff on March 8).