On Sunday, March 26, 2017, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) will enact minor scheduling and running time changes to Routes 5, 7, 12, and 32. On Monday, March 27, changes will be effective on Routes 31, 36, 46, 47LX, 53LX, 57, and 200X.
The most significant changes are that Routes 36 and 46 get a weeknight service boost. Instead of the routes cutting off after 9:00pm, both routes will have trips running as late as 11:00pm. Schedules can be obtained at gohart.org, and printed schedules will be available after March 19, 2017.
Overview of Service Changes
MetroRapid – Minor running time changes.
Route 5 – Minor running time changes on weekends.
Route 7 – Minor running time changes on all service days.
Route 12 – Minor running time changes on all service days.
Route 31 – Minor running time changes.
Route 32 – Minor running time changes on weekends.
Route 36 – Weekday service between Carrollwood and Britton Plaza extended to 11:00pm in both directions. Running times changed.
Route 46 – Weekday service extended to 10:00pm for eastbound and 11:00pm for westbound. Running times changed.
Route 47LX – Minor running time changes.
Route 53LX – Minor running time changes.
Route 57 – Minor running time changes on all service days.
Route 200X – Minor running time changes.
TECOline Streetcar – Morning Service Pilot Project ends on 3/24/17, so schedules will revert back to the prior scheme with some running time changes. Read more about the outcome of the pilot project on HART’s Blog.
What about New Tampa Flex?
For those of you wondering about if and when the planned New Tampa Flex route will launch, unfortunately, the plans are on hold for now. Due to falling ridership across the nation, and possible funding reductions at the state and federal levels, plus a possible shakeup of TBARA and the ongoing controversy around Tampa Bay Express – HART is currently preparing for the grim possibility of enacting across-the-board service cuts come 2019. It’s something that I’ve been fearing for a long time and I hope that key routes will not be cut. However, some lower ridership routes may be re-aligned, merged, or eliminated, and much of the entire HART network as it stands today will radically change over the next few years. Also expect to see some services converted into Flex routes and others into HyperLINK zones.
Yep, it’s that time again, for the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival! The Parade of the Pirates brings in hundreds of revelers each year, and along with that…tons and tons of roadway closures. So here’s what you need to know if you plan on attending the parade on Saturday, January 28, starting at 2:00pm.
Roadway Closures and Parking Info
On Friday, January 27, the day before the parade (that is TOMORROW as of the publishing of this post), many area roadways will begin to shut down. A complete list of closures has been provided through local media outlets (for this post, I’ve used the News Channel 8 article) and I strongly suggest that you go through this list so that you’re not caught in unnecessary traffic congestion. Because of the parade route and disbursement of the floats at the end of the parade, the Platt, Brorein, and Kennedy bridges will all be closed. That means your only points of egress into downtown Tampa will be the Cass St bridge, the Selmon Expressway, and I-275. If you don’t need to be in downtown Tampa, please do not enter the area! I cannot stress this enough.
For those traveling to Davis Island and Tampa General Hospital, access will be maintained to the island, but the on/off-ramps to/from Bayshore will all be closed. Please be sure to plan ahead for this, as shuttle service may not be available during the parade.
If you plan to park in one of the parking garages in either Downtown Tampa, Channelside, Hyde Park, or Ybor City, please make sure you remember where you parked. Also, keep in mind that many streets will be closed throughout the area. Please also be sure to bring cash, because some lots may only accept cash as payment. Additionally, please be aware that the City of Tampa prohibits parking on some streets.
Escape the parking and traffic hassles, use transit!
Select HART bus routes and the TECOline Streetcar Line will operate on a modified schedule on Saturday, and some bus routes will be detoured due to road closures. I’ll go through a brief rundown of what to expect if you’re using transit to get to and from the parade. For detailed information – including routes that serve the Downtown Tampa area – please visit the HART website, as information can change between now and the day of the parade.
Routes 7, 8, 14, 19, & 30 will be detoured! Please plan your trip accordingly! Below is a listing of how buses will be detoured, along with respective route maps. OneBusAway WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE FOR THE ROUTES AFFECTED, SO PLEASE REFER TO POSTED SCHEDULES FOR DEPARTURE TIMES!!!
Routes 7 & 14WILL NOT SERVE CASS ST.Instead, both routes will travel along Palm Ave from N. Boulevard and then follow Tampa St/Scott St into downtown (outbound will use Marion St/Henderson Ave/Florida Ave to Palm Ave).
Route 8 will be detoured via Nuccio Pkwy & Cass St. The normal route through Channelside and southern Downtown WILL NOT BE SERVED.
Routes 19 & 30 will be detoured via Howard/Armenia and I-275. The Platt/Cleveland/Brorien/Davis Island segments of Route 19 & the Kennedy Blvd segment of Route 30 east of Armenia/Howard WILL NOT BE SERVED.
Please make alternate arrangements if you are needing to get to/from Tampa General Hospital, as shuttle service may not be available.
If you reside in the Town-N-Country area, you can park your car at the Northwest Transfer Center and use Route 30 to connect to the Gasparilla festivities!
The TECOline Streetcar will run a modified schedule from 8:00am through 1:30am Sunday morning, and will only serve selected stations during selected times of the day. However, the Dick Greco Plaza, Centro Ybor, and Centennial Park stations will be served all day. The Whiting station will be CLOSED all day. Please read carefully through HART’s blog post for a complete listing of stations that will be closed throughout the day.
Feeder bus shuttles will pick up passengers at the Tampa Port Authority Garage, Dick Greco Plaza, Cumberland Ave, Cadrecha Plaza, and Streetcar Society stations to help get customers between various parking venues and the parade route. Service will commence at 9:30am and run through 7:00pm.
The In-Towner Saturday Route (Route 97) will operate along its normal route, but will provide frequent service throughout the day. Service will commence at 9:00am and run roughly every 15 to 20 minutes through 7:00pm. Customers may disembark the trolley at stops along Jackson St (inbound to Channelside) or Whiting St (Outbound to Marion Transit Center). OneBusAway tracking will be unavailable.
On December 4, 2016, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) will be enacting some minor scheduling and/or routing changes to improve efficiency throughout the system. Such changes will be enacted on Routes 24X, 25LX, 37, and 96. However, the most significant change will take place on December 10, 2016; when the agency is slated to revive Trolleybus Route 97 – this time under the fresh “In-Towner” branding.
This next section will discuss both the old and the new Route 97
The Original Route 97
HART originally ran Route 97 as a weekend trolley service in Downtown Tampa to compliment the existing Route 96. Route 97 service was funded through the City of Tampa, and would begin service at 6:00pm Friday night and ran through 2:00am Saturday morning. The service would then repeat on Saturday at 6:00pm, running through 2:00am Sunday morning. In 2012, the 97 was eliminated as budget woes hit both HART and the city. City funding ultimately went into helping to maintain the 96.
City events test demand for a revival of the Saturday Trolley
During the past few months, HART and the City of Tampa have been working on ways to better serve the downtown area without hurting each other’s budgets. In October, HART began to operate a trial Saturday trolley service during large-scale events in Downtown Tampa – such as MegaCon. These trials were funded by the city and have been well received by customers from what I heard. Reviving trolley service on Saturdays will allow for customers to have an alternative to driving and parking – even for those who just want to take a walk or jog along the Riverwalk, or connect to the Streetcar to have lunch in Ybor City.
What the new service will bring
The new 97 will operate on Saturdays between 11:00am and 7:00pm, with 30-minute frequency. However, during larger downtown events, the city may step in to help fund additional service. Additional service may include increased frequency and/or service hours. Below, is a quick glance at the basic schedule, which is subject to change – so please be sure to visit www.gohart.org for the latest information.
And one more note; OneBusAway tracking will be available for the 97 when it operates its basic schedule. Additional services will not be trackable until improvements to the OBA application are introduced by which special services are able to be tracked. If this ever happens is really anyone’s guess.
Other service changes – Effective 12/4/16 or 12/5/16
In addition to the reintroduction of the 97, HART will be enacting minor scheduling and/or routing changes to Routes 24X, 25LX, 37, and 96. These changes mainly encompass making detour routing from August and October, 2016 permanent fixtures.
Routes 24X and 25LX – Effective 12/5/16
Routes 24X and 25LX, which serve the South Interbay region of South Tampa on weekdays from the Brandon/Riverview area, will be seeing a change in routing during the AM service hours. PM routing will remain unchanged. Please see the maps below for both AM and PM routing. Schedules have been tweaked accordingly to reflect the changes.
Route 37 – Effective 12/4/16
Route 37 has previously served the Hillsborough Community College (HCC) Brandon Campus via Columbus Dr, which was previously the campus’ sole entrance/exit. In 2015, a second entrance/exit was added to the campus in the form of Nancy Watkins Dr. In August, 2016 – after several months of planning – HART enacted a temporary detour for Route 37 buses serving the HCC campus. Buses now travel in a clockwise direction from Falkenburg Rd, to Nancy Watkins Dr, curving around the east border of the campus to Columbus Dr, and then back onto Falkenburg. The previous on-campus stop was removed in favor of adding a stop on the north end of the campus on Nancy Watkins Dr. Schedules have been tweaked accordingly to reflect the changes.
Please note that the HCC Brandon Campus is NOT SERVED prior to 6:00am on weekdays, on weekends, and other times when classes are not in session (such as holiday breaks).
Route 96 – Effective 12/5/16
In October, 2016, the routing for Route 96 – the In-Towner Weekday – was changed to better serve key portions of Downtown Tampa and the Channelside District. The detour routing from October will now be permanent. Schedules have been tweaked accordingly to reflect the changes.
Making inter-county travel via transit even better!
With the launch of an improved Purple Bus Route in Hernando County and the upcoming cross-bay connection between Pinellas and Manatee Counties, traveling from one county to another couldn’t be any easier!
As shown in the illustration above, various transit agencies have launched cross-county bus services in order to improve regional connectivity and provide better services overall to their customers. While many of these services only operate during peak weekday hours, they are no less vital to the overall transit structure and will serve as part of the broader plan for a regional fare structure that is currently in development.
Now that I’ve outlined which services operate, let’s take a look at each inter-county route in a bit more detail.
Route 18 – Pasco County Public Transportation (PCPT): This local Monday through Saturday bus route travels from the Cross Bayou K-Mart near US 19 to Tarpon Springs, where connections to Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) Route 66 are available.
Route 19 – Pasco County Public Transportation (PCPT): This local Monday through Saturday bus route travels along US 19 from Tarpon Springs, where connections to PSTA Routes 19 and 66 are available, to Bayonet Point Plaza, where connections to PCPT Route 21 are available. Route 21 in-turn connects to the Scheer Commerce Center, where connections to the Hernando Bus Purple Route are available.
Route 20X – Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART): This peak weekday express bus route was established back in the 1980s and allows for customers to connect to Downtown Tampa from Lutz and Lake Magdalene. In 2011, the route was extended into the southern fringe of Central Pasco County, where it begins its AM runs from the Super Target parking lot on County Line Rd and Dale Mabry Hwy. Future expansion of the route could allow for connections to Pasco County Public Transportation (PCPT) Route 54.
Route 51X – Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART): Introduced during the 2000s, this peak weekday express bus route provides connections between Downtown Tampa, New Tampa, and the Wesley Chapel area of Pasco. PCPT Route 54 connect to the HART service at the Victorious Life Church Park and Ride Lot during selected trips. Future modifications of the route will allow it to better serve Wesley Chapel by serving the Shoppes at Wiregrass and the Florida Hospital campus. Use of the Victorious Life Church Park and Ride Lot will eventually discontinue.
Route 99 – Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) and Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT): Launched in 2004, this Monday through Saturday local route connects Palmetto to Bradenton and Sarasota. Connections to both agencies routes are available along the way.
Route 100X – Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA): Introduced in 1985 as a HART route, PSTA took over the 100X in 1993 and midday trips have since been added to what was originally a peak only weekday express route. This route currently connects Downtown Tampa to South Tampa and the Gateway region of St. Petersburg, but future plans have the route being extended towards Downtown St. Petersburg and the addition of Saturday service is not too far off either.
Route 200X – Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART): Route 200X started out as a state-operated experimental shuttle in the 1970s. By the 1980s, it had become a vital connection between Downtown Tampa and eastern Clearwater. The route currently operates during peak hours, Monday through Friday, but modification could occur if a planned Clearwater Beach to Tampa International Airport express route is launched.
Route 300X – Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA): Launched in 2003, this peak weekday express route provides connections between the Ulmerton Rd Park and Ride Lot on Ulmerton Rd and Starkey Rd, and Downtown Tampa. Midday trips are provided and future expansion could hold more trips for this service.
The Oldsmar/Tampa/Countryside Flex Connector – Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA): Launched in 2012, the OTC Flex Connector provides Monday through Saturday cutaway van service to the Countryside/Boot Ranch area of Pinellas, as well as Oldsmar and Town-N-Country. The route’s western terminus is Countryside Mall and the eastern terminus is HART’s Northwest Transfer Center. Both transfer hubs provide connections to both agencies own routes. Customers wishing to continue from Town-N-Country from the Flex route can use HART Route 30, and those wanting to connect from Countryside Mall can use PSTA Route 19 to get to St. Petersburg’s Grand Central Station, the Pinellas Park Transit Center, or Tarpon Springs. For those wanting to travel toward Downtown Clearwater, PSTA Routes 76 and 78 can get you there.
The Longboat Key Trolley (Route 18) – Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) and Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) Not Shown on the Map Above: The Longboat Key Trolley provides a cross-county beach-side connection from Downtown Sarasota to Longboat Key. Those wishing to go northward can connect to the Anna Maria Trolley, and connections to MCAT Route 6 is also available.
The Hernando Bus Purple Route: While the Purple Route has been in service for some time now, the western terminus fell short of the Pasco/Hernando County Line. In January of 2016, this changed when the route was extended to the Scheer Commerce Center, allowing for connections to PCPT Route 21. The Purple Route operates only Monday through Friday.
The Skyway ConneXion – Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT): Launching on April 1, 2016, the Monday through Friday two-round-trip express route will allow for connections between the MCAT and PSTA systems via I-275. The route will operate as a pilot for the first few months to evaluate ridership demand.
Megabus Service to Orlando and Miami Not Shown on the Map Above: Megabus.com launched its Florida intercity bus services in 2014 and allows for connections to nearly all major Florida cities.
Redcoach and Greyhound also provide intercity bus services to many major Florida cities.
Filling in the missing links
While the above services lay the foundation for vital inter-county connections, more funding is needed to expand upon what we have and allow for even more connections to other counties in the future. PSTA and HART are both currently planning additional connections between Pinellas and Hillsborough, specifically to connect to Tampa International Airport, which is currently only served by HART Route 30. HART also has short term plans to enhance its New Tampa and Central Pasco service, as well as longer term plans to provide even more service to Pasco, as well as create connections to Manatee and Polk Counties. Hopefully one day, one can be able to seamlessly travel throughout the entire Central Florida Region via transit; including Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, Manatee, Sarasota, Polk, Osceola, Orange, Lake, Seminole, and Volusia Counties.
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority bus routes were indeed showing up on HART’s OBA interface, rather than HART’s own routes (though HART Routes 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 16, 30, 31, 33, 34, 36, 37, 39, 41, 45, 46, 57, 96, and 400-MetroRapid were all showing as they normally would, as well as some HART express routes). If you were using the mobile app for OBA, the situation was a lot less confusing, as both HART and PSTA routes showed up on the interface.
Mobile app snapshot of PSTA Route 11
Both PSTA and HART routes appear on the mobile app.
Now, while I can only guess that today’s occurrence was a test run of sorts, HART and PSTA have been working together for the past several months to bring OBA functionality over to Pinellas County, as part of a broader regional connectivity plan that will soon usher in the first stages of a regional smart card-based fare structure. So therefore, I also see today’s occurrence to be the next stage in preparations for the official launch of OBA in Pinellas, which is currently slated to happen sometime later this year.
For those wondering about PSTA’s current “Real Time” bus tracking system that is powered through Clever Devices, that system is here to stay. Instead, OBA will become an additional convenience for PSTA customers – especially those who utilize smartphones. Those of us who have utilized the Clever Devices interface know that if you’re using a smartphone, the only effective avenue to track buses in real time is the mobile “text-only” site.
With the preparations continuing for PSTA to join the OBA realm – which already includes the New York City MTA, Sound Transit, and Atlanta’s MARTA, in addition to HART – expect to see more great things from both agencies as we head towards the summer months. My only question now is, will the official launch of OBA (Pinellas) happen sooner than some of us think it will? Only time will tell on that I guess…
On Sunday, March 27, 2016 and Monday, March 28, 2016, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) will be enacting minor scheduling changes to Routes 24X, 25LX, 27LX, 28X, 31, 36, and 41. These changes will all comprise of running time changes to improve efficiency along each of the routes. New schedules can be viewed through the Maps and Schedules page of goHART.org by selecting the route drop down box, then scrolling down to the bottom of the list. New schedule booklets will be distributed roughly one to two weeks prior to the changes taking effect. Any questions or concerns about these changes should be brought directly to HART’s attention. You can contact HART via phone at 813-254-4278.
The final weekday northbound Route 36 trip will leave at 9:15PM instead of 9:05PM.
In addition to the above mentioned changes, the following changes are also being made to the following routes:
Today, I begin a new periodic blog series called Route Spotlight. This series will profile specific transit routes and highlight the various destinations that they serve. To kick off this series, I am going to profile Hillsborough Area Regional Transit’s Route 36, which they profiled last week as their “Route of the Week“.
Route Overview and History
When I first began using public transit in 2006, Route 36 was among the very first routes that I used to get to and from Hillsborough Community College. The route currently runs from almost the southern tip of South Tampa to the heart of Carrollwood, but has seen many changes over the past couple of decades. While I don’t know exactly when the route first began service, the 36 was originally known as the “WestSide Shopper”, because it previously served numerous shopping complexes along northern Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa Bay Center, and WestShore Plaza. The route operated about every 30 minutes on weekdays and hourly on weekends. Originally there was no Sunday service, but like many of HART’s routes over the years, Sunday service was eventually added.
At some point between 2003 and 2005, HART underwent a system-wide reorganization to create more of a grid system with its urban routes and better serve suburban areas of Hillsborough County. This resulted in the 36 being straightened out to operate solely along Dale Mabry Hwy and Himes Ave, with 30 to 45 minute service on weekdays and hourly service on weekends. The WestShore Plaza leg of the route were taken over by Routes 45 and 81, the latter being eliminated shortly after the reorganization and being replaced with Routes 85 and 89, which in-turn were eliminated and replaced by the South Tampa Flex Route. In 2005, weekday service was initiated to MacDill Air Force Base, replacing Route 4 along the southern end of Dale Mabry. Route 4 was then realigned to run along the southern end of MacDill Ave, which saw the elimination of Route 17. With the elimination of Route 85 in 2010, weekend service on the 36 to the base began. At about that time, weekday midday frequency was adjusted from 45 minutes to 30 minutes.
Today, Route 36 operates every 30 minutes during weekdays from about 5:30am until about 10:15pm (final departures are at 9:05pm for Northbound and 9:25pm for Southbound), with hourly service on weekends from 6:10am through 8:30pm (final departures are at 7:10pm for Southbound and 7:35pm for Northbound). Plans are in the works, based on funding levels, to introduce 30 minute frequency on Saturdays and further down the road, 30 minute frequency on Sundays. Long-term plans for the Dale Mabry Hwy corridor will include the implementation of overnight van service and MetroRapid Dale Mabry “BRT lite” service.
Route 36 currently serves the following destinations
Palms of Carrollwood Shopping Center (Fletcher Ave & Dale Mabry Hwy Transfer Point – Transfer here for Route 33 & the Northdale Flex Route)
Lowe’s at Fletcher & Dale Mabry (sits on the site of the former Mission Bell Shopping Center)
Main Street Shopping Center
Carrollwood Center (Publix)
Busch Blvd (Transfer here for Route 39)
Waters Ave (Transfer here for Route 16)
Florida Hospital Carrollwood
West Tampa Area
Hillsborough Ave (Transfer here for Route 34)
Jesuit High School
Al Lopez Park
MLK Blvd (Transfer here for Routes 7, 32, 41, & 45)
West Tampa Transfer Center (Transfer here for Routes 7, 32, 41, & 45)
Henderson Blvd Shopping Center (TJ Maxx, The Fresh Market)
Publix on Dale Mabry Hwy & Neptune St
Plant High School
Bay to Bay Blvd (Transfer here for Routes 4 & 19)
Britton Plaza Shopping Center (Publix, Burlington, Marshalls, Michaels, Stein Mart – Transfer here for Routes 4, 19, the South Tampa Flex Route, & PSTA Route 100X)
South Dale Plaza (being redeveloped)
Lowe’s on S. Dale Mabry Hwy
Gandy Blvd (Transfer here for PSTA Route 100X)
Publix & Target on Gandy Blvd
Sam’s Club & Home Depot on S. Dale Mabry
Twin Bays Shopping Center
South Interbay Region
During special events at Raymond James Stadium, which is across the street from the West Tampa Transfer Center, the transfer center will be closed due to security and traffic restrictions. Buses during these times are redirected to a temporary transfer point on MacDill Ave & St. Isabel St.
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.
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
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 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).
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.
With all of the discussion about toll roads these days, it really shouldn’t be surprising that some projects that were previously frowned upon are getting a second look. While I generally dislike the increasing trend of toll road construction here in Florida, I also realize that toll roads aren’t going away. In this blog series – which comprises of four parts – I will be examining two projects (one a toll road, and the other a freeway) that are aimed at relieving congestion along one of Tampa Bay’s major thoroughfares – Gandy Blvd.
Gandy Blvd currently stretches from Bayshore Blvd in South Tampa to US 19 in Pinellas Park. From US 19, the roadway continues westward as Park Blvd and terminates in Indian Shores. The roadway (Gandy Blvd) was named after businessman and developer George Shepard Gandy, whose namesake is also on the bridge that he helped design and build during the early 1900s – with the original bridge opening in 1924. Since the 1920s, the South Tampa has seen a monumental suburban boom as Tampa grew outward from its downtown core. By the 1960s, nearly every open void in South Tampa was filled in with suburban style homes and businesses.
Today, Gandy Blvd is swamped with commercial businesses and some residential complexes, and unfortunately is seeing tons of rush hour congestion because of this and the route’s crucial link between the Gulf Coast Beaches and Downtown Tampa. The congestion along Gandy is now so bad that traffic sometimes backs up at key intersections during the midday on weekdays (such as WestShore Blvd and Manhattan Ave). Weekends have largely been spared, but if there is an incident on I-275, commuters will flock to the alternative thoroughfares to avoid the mess on the interstates.
Many plans have been brought up in the past to help relieve congestion along Gandy, but all up until now have fizzled out due in large part to community opposition. The first of these projects was the original South Crosstown Expressway, known today as the Selmon Expressway. The expressway’s original plans had the western terminus just shy of the Gandy Bridge on the Hillsborough side and then snaking down to an east-west CSX rail corridor and then northeastward up another rail line to Downtown Tampa. Heavy community opposition killed off these plans and that is why the expressway’s western end is at Gandy Blvd and Dale Mabry Hwy. Community opposition also played a role in the cancellation of several western extensions of the expressway that were brought upon between the 1980s and the late 2000s. Community opposition also helped kill plans for a cross-county expressway in Pinellas using the Gandy/Park Corridor.
I will be taking a closer look at the latest plan to elevate Gandy Blvd on the South Tampa side in my next installment. Then, I will take a look at the Gandy Bridge itself, followed by what is being done to Gandy on the Pinellas side. I hope that you will stay tuned for those posts.