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Transit Tourism – New York City Transit Excursion 2017 – Part 5

In Episode 5 of my Transit Tourism series documenting my recent trip to New York City, I will be discussing my first journey aboard the (1) and (W.) subway lines though Manhattan.

Note: When I type in the W in parenthesis to indicate the (W). Line, WordPress changes that to its (W) logo. As a result, I’ve had to make a couple minor changes to prevent this. Unfortunately, this means, you’ll see periods in places where they shouldn’t be. I apologize for any confusion.


Travel Log

After getting settled in my hotel, I wanted to relax a bit since I had arrived in Manhattan a bit earlier than planned. However, I had to be just southeast of Midtown by 4:00pm, so time was of the essence. I could use any extra time that I had to charge my phone somewhere – like Starbucks.

#6696 – 2007 Orion VII Diesel-Electric Hybrid – passing 106th St and Broadway.

While walking down to the 110th St station for the (1) Train, I managed to capture bus #6696 passing by on Broadway. This is one of many Orion Bus Industries model VII diesel-electric hybrid buses that the MTA possesses. A vast majority of the MTA bus fleet is diesel powered, though diesel-electric hybrid and CNG fleets currently operate. There is even a lease order of battery electric buses on the horizon – using both Proterra and New Flyer made buses. And by the way, Orion was one of the bus manufacturers that was acquired by New Flyer in recent years, resulting in the Orion made buses ceasing production. Today, New Flyer only manufactures the Xcelsior line of 35 and 40-foot buses.

Upon arriving at the 110th St Station, I noticed that complimentary Wi-Fi was available. Over the past several months, the MTA has been installing Wi-Fi routers at each of the stations to provide a better customer experience. Efforts are also being made to allow 4G cellular service available throughout the massive maze of tunnels.

“110” indicator on the station’s pillar. Pretty much all NYC subway stations have tiling or signage along pillars and pylons indicating the station name.

Each station has its own unique characteristics – including tiling. Stations that were built during the early 1900s typically have ornate, classical style tiling, whereas stations built during the mid 1900s have more of a mid century look. Stations built between the 1960s and 1990s feature architecture that was common during that respective time period, and anything built after the 1990s have a sleek, modern look.

Old ticketing booth.

If you’re lucky enough, you may enter an older subway station that has relics from yesteryear left over. Old ticketing booths for instance, may still be intact, though they may not be used for purposes such as vending. At some stations, restrooms have been converted into retail shops, where one can grab a snack or a newspaper.

Ornate “110” indicators grace the station’s walls. These decorations date back to the station’s opening.
110th St is also known as Cathedral Pkwy, hence the references to both.

Each of the stations along the numbered lines (except the 7) have digital countdown clock displays that tell customers when their train will be arriving. Along the lettered lines and the Staten Island Railway, LCD displays are being installed to achieve the same purpose.

Digital dot countdown clock display.
Sample graphic (by HARTride 2012) illustrating the countdown clock display along the lettered lines.

As the countdown clock above shows, there was only about a minute before my train towards the heart of Manhattan was slated to arrive. I took this time to take the station photos that I’ve showcased in this post thus far, and while I did take some video footage, I did not have enough time to film the train’s arrival this time.

A packed (1) Train heading to South Ferry via Times Square.

Once the train arrived, I stepped aside to allow arriving customers to disembark, then I entered what was an already packed train. Since the PM rush was approaching, I could totally understand why the trains would be crowded at this time.

To note; nearly all of the trains that operate along the (1) are older R62 and R62A railcars, which are the oldest operating subway railcar fleet for the numbered lines. The modern R142 & R142A trains operate along the (2), (3), (4), (5), & (6) lines, with their rebranded counterparts – the R188 (most being converted R142As) – operating exclusively on the (7). Two sets of R62As continue to operate along the (7), but for how much longer I do not know.

Just getting off #2279 at Times Square – 42nd St.

Navigating the Times Square – 42nd St Station, which lies just a stone’s throw away from the famed intersection of Broadway, 7th Ave, and 45th St, can be a bear. If you don’t really know where you’re going, you can get lost. Fortunately for me, all I had to do was follow the signs to the (N), (Q), (R), (W). platform.

Station signage.

Follow this corridor to the (N), (Q), (R), & (W) trains, as well as the 42nd St Shuttle.
The “Times Square Mural” on the mezzanine level. The 42nd St Shuttle platform is in the background.

While traveling to the Broadway Line platforms for the (N), (Q), (R), & (W). Trains, I snapped a photo of the Times Square Mural on the mezzanine level near the 42nd St Shuttle platform. It’s truly a wonderful mural, depicting a train traveling through a futuristic city. The work was created by Roy Lichtenstein and commissioned by the MTA’s Arts for Transit program.

Okay, now to the (W). Beyond this section of the mezzanine was the stairways to the Broadway Line platforms. I needed to make sure that I was getting onto the correct platform so as to not head uptown by accident.

Signs to the Broadway Line platforms.
Tile mosaic next to the staircase to the Broadway Line platforms.
Left for the (Q), right for all others…
Pillar signage. Notice how the lower sign does not include the (W)? This sign was probably installed in 2010 when the (W) was axed due to budget cuts. I doubt the MTA will be replacing these signs anytime soon since the larger signs have all been updated.

Now some of you may be asking, where exactly was I going? I was heading to the Cooper Union for a presentation. Since the (N) & the (Q) go express down Broadway and do not serve the 8th Ave station, I needed to catch either an (R) or a (W). train to get to my destination. Since the (W). was restored back in December, 2016, I wanted to have at least one ride on the line – especially being that I didn’t know how long the presentation would last. If it was something that would keep me at Cooper Union past 9:00pm, then there may not be an opportunity to catch the (W). to Whitehall St – South Ferry due to it ending service during the 9:00pm hour.

It took maybe about 8 minutes before the (W). arrived. While waiting, I saw (Q) Express train & an (R) Local train stop at the station. I wasn’t so much looking for photos of the (Q) & the (R) because of the time crunch. I can always do some bus fanning outside Cooper Union if I had extra time. Once the (W). train did arrive, I was on my way again! The train wasn’t really crowded at all, unlike the (1) train that I boarded earlier, and the trip went without incident – all smooth sailing to 8th St!

The (W) has arrived!
On board the (W).

To close this post, let me mention the types of railcars that travel along the Broadway Line. The (Q) primarily uses newer R160A & B trains, while the (R) primarily uses the older R46 trains. The (N) & (W.) use a mix of older R68 & R68A trains & newer R160A & B trains. However, uncommon occurrences do happen – where an R68 or R68A may spring up on the (Q) or even more rare…on the (R).

Do you like what you’ve been able to read so far? Let me know by commenting on this post. I will have Episode 6 up in a week hopefully. In the meantime, please keep a watchful eye on tropics, as we still have some time to go before November. It looks like we may be seeing a Tango dance between Jose & Maria this weekend. Putting anything even remotely funny aside though, my thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by Irma & Maria. I have many friends who have relatives and friends in the Caribbean and it really breaks my heart to see the devastation left behind by these storms.


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The “Summer of Hell” is upon us…

The so-called “Summer of Hell” in the New York City metro region begins Monday morning (7/10/17). Here’s some helpful resources to help plan your commute:

What is the “Summer of Hell”? Amtrak is performing much-needed repair work to the tracks in the Hudson Tubes, which connect commuter and intercity trains between New Jersey and New York City’s Penn Station. The work will result in trains running modified schedules, which in-turn will cause lots of commuter headaches.

Farewell to the Loops! “Newer” South Ferry Station Reopens!

Over the weekend, I began hearing some speculation that the New York City MTA was going to reopen the “newer” South Ferry subway station on Tuesday, June 27, 2017. If such an opening were to materialize, it would mean that the “newer” station would be open by the July 4th holiday, and would also solidify the “hints” that the MTA was dropping in their notification of weekend service changes for the (2) and (3) trains.

Sure enough, that speculation proved to be true…

…Gone are the days of hearing trains screech their wheels at the South Ferry Loops…

…Gone are the mad rush hour shuffles to get to the first five cars of the train to get off at the South Ferry Loops…

…And gone are the other knacks associated with boarding trains at the South Ferry Loops – the announcements, the conductor routines, having to maintain antiquated gap fillers, etc.

…All thanks to hard work and yes, tons of funding, to get the “newer” station back online…just a bit over four years after the loops reopened, and almost five years since SuperStorm Sandy flooded much of Lower Manhattan’s subway tunnels.

The MTA’s “Fix & Fortify” Capital Program, launched after the devastation caused by Sandy, is aimed at rebuilding and restoring storm-damaged infrastructure that the agency owns and operates. This work has encompassed numerous projects, but the South Ferry station restoration project has been among the largest to date – costing $344 million dollars (that’s over half the amount spent on constructing the station in the first place, which was $500 million). In addition to restoring storm-damaged infrastructure, the MTA is also making efforts to strengthen its transit network against future storms. One of the most noticeable features of the newly reopened South Ferry is the addition of heavy metal flood doors at the station’s entrances – designed to keep flood waters out of the station.

Other features that customers may notice different from the original opening of the “newer” station in 2009 include LED lighting (the original station had fluorescent lights), larger station name text font along the platform walls (the original station name text font was very small), and of course the addition of Wi-Fi service (so that customers can surf the web while waiting for their train). Of course, long-time customers can’t help but notice how the “newer” station handles more trains than the loops can – not to mention that all 10 cars of the train can be boarded without major issues.

So with all of these new bells and whistles in place for the “newer” South Ferry, let’s just hope that no more large storms come around and flood the station again.

SF New
Diagram of the new station setup. I originally created this diagram in 2013 when the SF loops reopened, but changes have been made to reflect the reopening of the new platform and the closure of the loops.

 

Final Countdown for South Ferry Loop

The final countdown is on for the many transit fans in New York City to get photos and videos of the old South Ferry Loop subway station before it shuts down for good.

While an official reopening date has yet to be announced by the New York City MTA for the “newer” South Ferry platform – which was damaged by SuperStorm Sandy in 2012, hints have been dropping that the “newer” station will be open before the July 4th holiday. This flyer regarding weekend work on the (2) and (3) lines states that the (2) will detour down the South Ferry-bound tracks to terminate at Rector St during the weekends of June 19th and 26th, but afterward, trains would terminate at the “newer” South Ferry.

I can only guess that at this point, the MTA does not want to announce a date too soon when work is still wrapping up on the rebuilding of the “newer” station. There has been quite a lot of work done on the station and some work will continue on even after the “newer” platforms have reopened. One key element that will be present when the reopening does happen is the water-tight doors that will seal off the platform section if flooding occurs. I’m also hearing that the rebuilt platform will pretty much look identical to how it did when it first opened in 2009, but with some cosmetic changes and LED lighting (instead of fluorescent).

So with all of this said, you might be wondering, “why not just have the (2) train service the South Ferry Loop when it’s being detoured?” From my understanding, the MTA is concerned that rail operators on the (2) and (3) trains might not have the proper training to operate the train doors properly. Only the first five cars of the train can be opened at the loop, a key reason why the “newer” station was built (it was not feasible to expand the loop to accommodate 10-car trains).

To wrap things up, I’m very glad that I got to visit New York City while the South Ferry Loop was still open. I’ll discuss the loop more during my Transit Tourism series on my recent trip. But in the meantime, I already have a video up on YouTube showing the loop, and the adjoining Whitehall St station, that you can watch. I will make an update to this post when the official reopening date for the “newer” South Ferry platform is announced.


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Winter 2017 Service Change Roundup – PSTA, Votran, and HRT

late-winter-2017-service-change-banner-1

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.c9231ce1-34f0-4790-96f0-7eb0a38b2182
  • 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.

5ad047b7-2aa0-40a1-9284-a80dcad5d1da

  • 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.
bfad869a-61bb-420b-babd-c500c16f8cf2
Credit: HRT
  • 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.

687ec6a2-c83d-45cc-82b8-dc50bf426dae

  • 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.

View updated schedules at www.votran.org


Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA)

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.

View updated schedules at www.psta.net


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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.


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

NYC Subway W-Train makes a comeback on 11/7/16

w-1

It’s a long time coming for the New York City Subway – the return of “W” service to Manhattan and Queens!

Back in 2009, during the height of the recession – many transit agencies were forced to cut back service in order to trim down their budgets. This came at a time when transit ridership was hitting all-time highs due to higher gas prices and unstable economic conditions. The New York City MTA was not immune to these circumstances and enacted a rash of service cuts in 2010 that included the elimination of the “W”, replacing it with “Q” service in Queens.

Fast forward to 2016 and the Second Ave Subway – which has been marred in delay after delay during the past several decades – is set to open its first segment this December.  In preparation for the launch of “Q” service to 96th St, the MTA is bringing back the “W” to compensate for the loss of service that the re-alignment of the “Q” will bring to Queens. These changes in fact; will bring the “N”, “Q”, “R”, and “W” trains all back to their pre-2010 levels – except of course that the “Q” stays in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The MTA has put together a comprehensive guide to the realigned services, including where and when you can catch each train. Please be sure to pay close attention so that you can plan out your commute. The realigned services kick off on Monday, November 7, 2016, with the first “W” trains departing at 6:30am.


south-ferry-1

Oh, that South Ferry…

Because the “W” terminates at the Whitehall St/South Ferry station in Manhattan, I thought that this would be a good time to also post an update on the reconstruction of the “newer” South Ferry station for the “1” train. As many know, the “newer” station was damaged due to Superstorm Sandy.

Since earlier this year, work officially began on gutting out and rebuilding the “newer” South Ferry “1” platforms – which lie below the “older”, curvier “1” platform. In addition, the “newer” entrances to the station’s mezzanine level have also been undergoing reconstruction – namely replacing the elevators and escalators in and out of the station. As a result – customers have been having to rely on the “older” entrances at Whitehall St and the Staten Island Ferry building to access the “older” platform for the “1”. The free connection between the “R” and the “1” continues to be maintained via the mezzanine passageway between the respective platforms.

With the return of the “W”, all station signage is being updated to reflect the connection to the revived service and this will no doubt bring forth a very rare opportunity for transit fans to get photography and video action of the “1”, “N”, “R”, and “W” trains together while the “older” “1” platforms remain open. As I will say right now, enjoy this opportunity while it lasts! Because come the fall of 2017, the “older” “1” platform will close (very likely forever this time) in lieu of the “newer” platform reopening.


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The Paris Metro MP 14 – First Glance

At the end of May, 2016, the RATP unveiled a video showing a rendition of the proposed MP 14 railcar traveling through a subway corridor. While I have to assume that the design is still in its early stages – leaving room for modifications in the future – I have to say the railcar looks pretty impressive.

The MP 14 railcars are projected to enter revenue service at some point between 2021 and 2023 on Paris Metro Lines 11 and 14, with the possibility of trains being assigned to Lines 4 and 6.

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.

Will the Tampa Bay Region FINALLY see commuter rail?

In a Tampa Bay Times article yesterday, it was revealed that CSX Transportation was finally letting up to the possibility of selling two key freight rail lines to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in the same manner that it did with another key rail line that is now a part of SunRail in Metro Orlando. While this is great news for the region, many concerns have been raised as to how and if the plan will ever materialize. CSX has been in talks with FDOT for at least several months now, but the issue at hand has been in the minds of many within the local transportation realm for years.

What are the two rail lines?

The two rail corridors in question includes the north-south line that runs from Brooksville, closely paralleling US Highway 41 until it reaches northern Hillsborough County, skirts past the University area, and ends in downtown Tampa, with another spur leading into South Tampa (the Times article does not mention the South Tampa spur however). The other corridor branches off from the Brooksville line at Busch Blvd and parallels the roadway and Linebaugh Ave in an east-west direction, connecting to a spur towards Tampa International Airport, before swooping into Pinellas County and eventually Clearwater and St. Petersburg.

Will CSX ask for a reasonable purchase price?

One huge concern that I have, is the cost of purchasing these two lines. A couple of people that I’ve talked to in the past have expressed that the only way CSX will put these lines up for sale is if they do so at a ridiculously high price. Something that would force FDOT to walk away without any compromise. However, I know that with what was able to materialize with SunRail, something can be done to ultimately bring the price down some while continuing to give CSX its portion.

Along with the purchase price, another unclear batch of costs includes building stations, parking facilities, purchasing rolling stock, and double-tracking the corridors.

Everyone MUST be involved in the process!

And when I say EVERYONE, I mean FDOT, the commissions of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, and Hernando counties, AND every municipality within those counties (especially those who lie along the corridor). Plus, we will need to have the involvement of state representatives and senators, MPOs, and even TBARTA (although the state never gave the latter the powers it needs to actually operate as a regional transportation authority instead of just a planning body). Without this political unity, the entire plan stands to fall right through the cracks, just like every single past transportation initiative and Go Hillsborough. If Metro Orlando can have this kind of political unity to have saved SunRail from the chopping block of Governor Rick Scott, then why can’t Tampa Bay have the same? The answer lies in the next segment of this post.

Enough of the squabbling!!!

This news comes after the Times wrote a scathing op-ed about the Tampa Bay Region’s lack of local leadership and why it has largely contributed to not just the failed transportation initiatives, but also shortcomings in education, as well as the ongoing stalemate between St. Pete and the Tampa Bay Rays on a new stadium. This is also the same reason why FDOT is pushing so hard to build Tampa Bay Express (TBX). The problem at hand is that no one at the municipal and county levels want to work together in most situations. I’ve in fact seen countless times where mayors, city council members, county commissioners, etc. have done nothing but squabble in disagreement amongst themselves instead of working together towards one common goal. Because of this, I see our elected officials only working only for “me, myself, and I”, and not for their constituents who put them in office to begin with.

This individualistic mentality has got to end immediately! Especially when we are dealt with a regional situation like this. Instead, all of our elected officials need to start coming together and working together AS A REGION in order to tackle the big issues that affect all of us…whether it be transportation, education, or sports teams and venues. Otherwise, we will pay an extremely hefty price when these same powers to be, despite community opposition, allow TBX to be built in its entirety with no alternative transit option. Because at the end of the day, if we fail to work together AS A REGION, FDOT will simply walk away from this prospect with CSX and will instead continue to only focus on TBX. And finally, if the powers to be cannot do their jobs as promised, they all should not expect to be re-elected in the next election cycle.


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