Tag Archives: Bus Service

Go Hillsborough – Part 1 – An Overview

Credit: HARTride 2012
Credit: HARTride 2012

Let the discussion begin

You’ve likely been hearing about it over the past few months, but now the official public outreach process has begun in Hillsborough County. What is this outreach process about exactly? It’s about building a better transportation network throughout the county. Because let’s face it, we’re at a pivotal crossroads right now, and unless we act to fix the situation at hand, things will only get worse from here.

Continue reading Go Hillsborough – Part 1 – An Overview

Downtown Norfolk, VA Transit Center to temporarily relocate

Post Updated on 1/19/15.

ATTENTION HAMPTON ROADS TRANSIT (HRT) CUSTOMERS: If you transfer out of downtown Norfolk, then you’ll want to pay close attention to what will be happening towards the end of this month. On Monday, January 26, 2015, all stops at the makeshift Downtown Norfolk Transit Center will move one block over to the west due to construction activities at the site. This temporary relocation will be in effect until further notice. Please see the map below for details.

NOTE: Map has been revised by HRT.

Credit: Hampton Roads Transit (HRT).
Credit: Hampton Roads Transit (HRT).

As indicated in RED, all stops at the current makeshift terminal at Wood St will temporarily move to E Charlotte St and Montecello Ave. Most local routes will board and de-board in the BLUE area along E Charlotte St. Local Route 2 and Express Routes 960 and 961 will board and de-board in the GREEN area along Monticello Ave. The BLACK area indicated on the map is a staging area for buses, and customers SHOULD NOT ATTEMPT TO BOARD A BUS FROM THIS LOCATION. Please keep in mind that these changes may adversely impact your transfer to adjoining bus routes, as well as The Tide Light Rail Line nearby, so please be sure to plan accordingly.

Any questions or concerns about these changes should be directed to HRT.

GREENLIGHT Pinellas; Where we are, and where we’re headed

YES on Greenlight Post Final Logo

GREENLIGHT Pinellas

Where we are, and where we’re headed

INTRODUCTION

Several months ago, I blogged about the Greenlight Pinellas initiative, which is aimed at dramatically changing the public transit landscape in Pinellas County, and how it’s funded. My previous post provided a summary of how the Greenlight plan will work, what successes the plan has had as of mid 2014, and what challenges the initiative faced at the time. In this update, the last before the November 4th General Election, I’m going to highlight how important Greenlight is for Pinellas County, and why voters need to say YES on the ballot.

Now I know this post comes a bit too late for many who have either submitted their ballots through the mail, or have taken part in Early Voting. However, for those Pinellas voters who haven’t made up their minds yet, there’s still a chance to get the information that you need so that you can make an informed decision. Many speculate that the final outcome of the Greenlight Pinellas vote is as too close to call as the Florida Governor’s race. And it’s true; both races are currently in a dead heat! Things are going to come down to the wire come November 4, and it’s up to the remaining Pinellas voters to get out and vote YES for Greenlight!

INFORMATIONAL WEBSITES

Now, I don’t want to portray myself as a transportation expert, because I am not. I am a passionate public transit supporter and have been gradually shifting towards an activist role as Hillsborough County prepares to put forth its second attempt at a voter referendum for transit in 2016. I therefore do not want to give you any information that isn’t accurate. So if you haven’t had a chance to read up on how Greenlight Pinellas will work, I strongly encourage you to visit the official Greenlight Pinellas informational website at http://www.greenlightpinellas.com. If you have a good idea about the plan, but just need that boost to make your final decision, you can visit the Friends of Greenlight PAC’s “Vote YES on Greenlight” website at http://www.voteyesongreenlight.com. I strongly encourage you to visit both sites if you can!

WHY THE PLAN IS IMPORTANT FOR PINELLAS

Moving onto the main point of my post, why is voting YES on Greenlight important?

  • Dramatic improvements to bus services will allow people to get around better using transit! Whether transit is your only mode of transport, or you want it to be your secondary mode of transport, passing Greenlight will allow the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) to immediately implement expanded bus services throughout Pinellas County. Such services will be able to get you to and from work, school, shopping, entertainment, dining, sporting events, or even just everyday errands!
  • One of the first huge improvements you’ll see is a shift from the current hub-spoke system, by which transfer to other routes are largely based on centralized centers, to a grid system, based on the county’s street grid. A grid system will allow for transfers to be done at key intersections, rather than transit centers, and will ultimately allow bus routes to run more uniformly in respect to direction, rather than zig zagging from one point of the county to the next.
  • More local, express, trolley, and Flex (Connector) services to get you where you need to go, faster, more frequently, and more earlier and later in the day/evening during all days of the week, not just Monday through Friday or Monday through Saturday. This will allow workers who work non-traditional work schedules (outside the traditional Monday through Friday, 9AM to 5PM schedule) to have commuting options available, which will in-turn increase job competition and creation throughout the county, and eventually the entire region! As many of you know, our area continues to lose out on job competition and creation due to a lack of an efficient transit system, we can’t continue to let this trend occur!
  • Purchasing a monthly bus pass is by far cheaper than all of the costs associated with driving and maintaining a car! Let me stress that last part…maintaining a car…because that’s the part many opponents don’t talk about, is the rising costs of maintaining a car, which adds up to your gas bills real fast! I also want to stress that the 65% increase in bus service through the passage of Greenlight, is the main thing NTFT refuses to talk about. All they want to talk about is bashing light rail.
  • Freedom to do what you want with savings! Instead of wasting money on gas and vehicle maintenance, purchase a monthly transit pass and use the savings on other things while still being able to get around! If you currently drive and are sick of sitting in traffic, the increased transit options mentioned earlier will allow you the freedom to get from A to B to C without hassling with merging, changing lanes, exiting, parking, and other hassles. You can also get work done while commuting (time savings)! With WIFi being gradually rolled out onto the PSTA system, you’ll be able to prepare for your meeting, get homework done, or even surf the web, all while on the bus! Or, you can even just sit back and relax while your bus operator does all the driving for you! If you reside in areas like Northern Pinellas, expanded Flex (Connector) services can easily get you from your doorstep to wherever you need to go, faster, and more efficiently than these services do today! And with buses running more frequently, you won’t have to wait too long for your next bus to arrive!
  • Premium transit options, like bus rapid transit (BRT) and light rail (LRT), will be constructed further down the road, as the increased funding continues to roll in. Once the core and supporting bus systems have been strengthened, then BRT corridors will be implemented along key highways (such as US 19) to get people from longer distance population centers quickly and efficiently. Then, by 2025, the planned LRT line from Clearwater to St. Pete via Carillon/Gateway is expected to open, allowing people to get to work, school, or even a Rays game, without sitting in traffic! As one Greenlight supporter has said, “More Mass Transit, Less Mass Traffic!” Hey! I’m all for that! And so should you!
  • Better for the environment! From the American Public Transportation Association (APTA): “Public transit produces 95% less carbon monoxide, 92% fewer volatile organic compounds, and about half as much carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions per passenger mile as private vehicles.” (Source: Conserving Energy and Preserving the Environment, American Public Transportation Association: 2002). PSTA is among many transit agencies heavily investing in clean air, hybrid electric-diesel buses, and the number of hybrid buses in the PSTA fleet continues to grow!
  • More buses! And speaking of buses, PSTA’s “Smartbuses” are currently being funded by a federal grant, one that won’t last forever. Once these added funds run out, PSTA will be in the same situation as Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) across the bay, they’ll be losing buses as the oldest ones come up for retirement. PSTA cannot sustain its current bus fleet with the limited resources they have, nor can they greatly expand for the future. Let’s make things right now, before PSTA runs into that dire situation later.

BUILDING THE FOUNDATION FOR A MODERN REGIONAL TRANSIT SYSTEM

Many in Pinellas know about the failure of the 2010 referendum in Hillsborough and how poorly planned out it was. Most voters didn’t know what they were getting. Pinellas has long refused to repeat Hillsborough’s mistakes, and Greenlight isn’t all about rail, as I described earlier, it’s about modernizing and expanding the bus system first. Once the bus system is strengthened, the rail lines will follow!

Currently in Hillsborough, elected officials have gradually been putting together their own plan to put their own referendum on the ballot by November of 2016 that will include a mix of bus improvements, funding for a starter light rail line from downtown Tampa to Tampa International Airport, roadway improvements, and pedestrian/bike facility improvements. If the Greenlight measure passes this November, the chances of Hillsborough pushing ahead with their plans will greatly increase, as well as the chances of their 2016 initiative passing!

The northbound Howard Frankland Bridge is now functionally obsolete and needs replacement by 2025! The passage of both referenda will increase the likelihood that the replacement bridge will have the necessary accommodations for a cross-bay light rail line to connect with both counties’ starter lines, creating a much-needed transit link. This will also allow for further bus and rail improvements to follow more easily. Passing Greenlight builds this foundation, and will allow for numerous transit links to be developed much faster than if PSTA remained on the status quo funding situation.

GREENLIGHT SUPPORT INCREASES

To date, the support for Greenlight has been overwhelming, with a vast majority of municipalities within the county supporting the initiative, additionally, many businesses, political, and community leaders, as well as all three regional sports teams (the Rays, the Bucs, and the Lightning) have all thrown their support behind Greenlight, knowing that it will not only improve Pinellas transit, but also build that needed foundation for a modern regional transit system!

NTFT RAMPS UP THEIR FEARMONGERING TACTICS

Sadly, along with the increased support, NTFT has increased their opposition tactics by instilling classic Tea Party style fear mongering tactics. The recently exposed racist video put out by one of these Tea Party insiders, along with efforts from outside conservative groups like The Cato Institute, show just how desperate NTFT is to not only shutting down Greenlight, but to privatize our region’s transit system.

THIS IS NOT A PARTISAN ISSUE!

Greenlight should NOT be a partisan issue! Greenlight has received support from both sides of the aisle! It’s only the Tea Party insiders and activists who don’t want Greenlight to pass, because they don’t want any public investment in transit…period! Why do you think the Tea Party has been so adamant at attacking transit all over the country? They clearly do not want the taxpayers investing anymore money into the system…simple! They’d rather have the private sector run our transit systems while we pour more money into toll roads. How’s the infusion of toll roads and tolled express lanes going to fix our crumbling bridges? I mean really?

WHY ONCE AGAIN, PRIVATIZING TRANSIT IS A BAD IDEA.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous Greenlight post, privatizing public transit does not always bring out the intended results. Buses continue to run very late at times, creating the environment for unstable and unpredictable schedules, various performance issues, and episodes of miscommunication between the public transit boards and the private contractors have also been ongoing issues. Out in California, a few agencies have seen infusions of privatization, including Fairfield and Suisun Transit, and the merged body today known as SolTrans. Both agencies continue to have operations contracted out, but the inefficiencies still exist according to one transit rider I’ve spoken with, who resides out in the San Francisco Bay Area.

HOW YOU CAN HELP!

Believe it or not, there’s still time for you to be able to make an impact on how Greenlight will fare at the polls! Every hour that you can spare to tell Pinellas voters who have not yet made their decision, can help bring the vote closer to passage! Below is a quick breakdown of volunteer opportunities that were outlined in an email sent from Connect Tampa Bay earlier today.

  • Phone Banking: Thursday, Oct 30th, 5-8pm at the Pinellas Realtor Organization, 4590 Ulmerton Road, Clearwater, 33762
  • The Walk to End Gridlock: Saturday Nov 1st, 10 am at Gulfport Public Library, 5501 28th Ave S, Gulfport, FL 33707
  • Door Knocking: Sunday, Nov 2nd, 10 am at the Pinellas Realtor Organization, 4590 Ulmerton Road, Clearwater, 33762 LAST “CALL”
  • MONDAY: Phone Banking on Monday, Nov 3rd, ALL DAY starting 10:00 AM and ending at 8:00 PM at the Pinellas Realtor Organization, 4590 Ulmerton Road, Clearwater, 33762
  • ELECTION DAY: ALL HANDS ON DECK! We need volunteers to give out information at precincts, waive and put up signs, call voters, and knock on doors.

View the full email from Connect Tampa Bay.

The Pinellas Realtor Organization is coordinating all volunteering efforts and can be contacted in case you have any questions, or would like to put in an RSVP for volunteering (which is strongly advised). You can email the campaign at jfarrell@tampabayrealtor.com or call 727-216-3029.

CONCLUSION – TRANSIT WILL REMAIN A TOP CONCERN FOR TAMPA BAY

As I mentioned earlier, the Greenlight referendum race is in a dead heat right now, and it’s up to the remaining Pinellas voters, who have not yet cast their ballot, to make a difference! Regardless of the final outcome of Greenlight, the issue of building a better transit system will not disappear. In fact, the issue will only become ever hotter as other metro areas like Charlotte, Phoenix, San Francisco, Norfolk, and now even Detroit, surpass the Tampa Bay region when it comes to having meaningful public transit systems. Hillsborough County will be trying again in 2015/16, and if Greenlight should go downhill, there’s no doubt that Pinellas will try again before 2020, even before 2018.

FINAL NOTE – WEBSITES TO AVOID

I want to end this piece by mentioning a few websites that you’ve probably at least heard about, that are full of lies and misinformation about Greenlight, and I want to point these sites out to you so that you don’t get swept into them thinking that they are providing the real stuff. These sites are operated by Tea Party insiders, the same Tea Party insiders that are vehemently opposed to the Affordable Health Care Act (or Obamacare). They are also among the same group of insiders that likely would support a government shutdown…AGAIN! Don’t get sucked into their websites. They want Greenlight to crash and burn so that they can push their underlying agenda, which is to fully privatize public transit throughout Tampa Bay. Later in this post, I’m going to re-iterate why privatizing transit is NOT A GOOD IDEA.

So onward to the misinformatonal websites in brief; first the No Tax For Tracks Pinellas (referred to in this post as NTFT) website at railtaxfacts.com. Believe me, this website, despite its URL, is not full of facts. But full of blatant lies, many of which NTFT has already been exposed for. There are also two blogs notorious for lies and misinformation; greenlightpinellasfacts.com and sunbeamtimes.com. Both of these blogs are run by staunch Tea Party insiders who are also passionate NTFT supporters/contributors. Both are also known for insulting voter intelligence when their debunked talking points get refuted. Yet Greenlight opponents continue to reference both of these websites in their social media posts. I don’t about you, but I sure don’t believe anything that is posted on any of these three sites.

Now, there are a few other websites that you should avoid. But I don’t want to take up anymore time going in-depth, as it will derail from my main points of this post. However, you need to be aware that there’s lots of misinformation being spread, and for you to be able to make an informed decision, you need to be able to decipher fact from fiction.

 Good Luck Pinellas Voters!

HARTride 2012

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Transit Roundup for the week of April 1, 2013

There’s been quite a lot going on this week in respects to public transit. Rather than creating 6 or 7 different posts, I’ve decided to list everything in one single post. Each tidbit of transit news is grouped by geographical region (or Focus Area) that I cover.

Continue reading Transit Roundup for the week of April 1, 2013

Transit Tip for January, 2013 – Be careful of the fog.

Hi everyone!

 

Today, I am going to restart my monthly transit tips, which give helpful advice to public transit travelers everywhere! Now, whether you use public transit or not, I strongly feel that it is vital to inform people of various things that could be of help. I’m sure you have heard the term “news you can use”? I like to think of these tips as exactly that, “news you can use”. However, these helpful tips cover a variety of topics, as you will see when I make a post that has some of the tips that I’ve previously posted on my Tampa Bay Transit as told by HARTride 2012 site.

So for this month’s helpful tip. I would like to make everyone aware that foggy mornings and evenings can be real dangerous, especially if you are walking from A to B. Whenever there is fog, the level of visibility is often greatly reduced, meaning that it is very difficult for others to see you – especially those who are driving vehicles. It is also difficult for you to see others, like bicyclists and other drivers. You often hear people saying “make sure you use your low beams when driving”, which is definitely true. Because if you use your high beams while driving, you risk blinding other drivers and it is very hard to see pedestrians who may be trying to cross the road, thus increasing the likelihood of a serious accident.

For public transit customers, fog can present a very precarious situation in of itself because it is very difficult for the bus operator to see customers who are waiting at the next stop. Even if you wait right next to the bus stop sign, the bus operator can often miss you simply because he or she cannot see you. Now, although you can carry a flashlight with you – which I personally would recommend – please be careful where you point it, as you may accidentally blind the bus operator. An alternative that I’ve seen many people talk about recently (including Jason – aka Yo Bus Driver) is using the light from your cell phone to make yourself visible to the bus operator. As the bus approaches, activate the light on your phone screen and point the screen towards the direction of the bus. It will allow the operator to spot you as he or she approaches your stop, allowing you to board so that you can get from A to B.

With this said, please be sure to use extra caution during periods of fog. Not just because of the reasons above, but also because the limited visibility makes it easier for criminals to ambush you. As always, if you notice anything suspicious, contact law enforcement immediately.

 

Have a great day!

HARTride 2012

Merry Christmas & the Year-End Transit Roundup!

Hi everyone!

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

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

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

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

GREEN: Orlando Area (LYNX, SunRail)

RED: Hampton Roads, VA (HRT)

TEAL: New York City, NY (NYCMTA)

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

Continue reading Merry Christmas & the Year-End Transit Roundup!

Fantasy Metro/Subway for Norfolk, VA – Part 1

This will be the first in a series of blog posts revolving around my fictional transit systems. I was originally going to begin with my Mushroom Kingdom fantasy transit system, but I still have to make a few changes to the map before I can upload it.

Instead, I will be focusing this post on a completed fantasy subway system map for the Hampton Roads, VA area. As I mentioned in many areas of my blog, as well as through my various Facebook posts, Norfolk, VA already has a light rail line (which by the way turned one year old this past September). However, I started to think to myself “what if they had an extensive subway system?” So I began to create a fantasy subway system map on Google Maps that would serve all of the major areas in around Norfolk and Virginia Beach. The composition of the system is somewhat based off the Paris Metro in Paris, France. I even chose the color of each subway line to match the colors from the Paris subway (Line 1 on both systems is represented with a sunshine yellow/orange color for instance).

You can view my Google map by selecting the link below.

https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=209017093338133213456.0004b8ba2207f5d064c85&msa=0

As you will notice, the system has 10 different subway lines (plus one shuttle line, called Line 7A). I will update this post shortly to describe further where each line travels to.

Watching Issac…

Hi everyone,

The RNC is just days away. Unfortunately, we now have a significant hurricane threat on our hands.

Tropical Storm Issac formed in the Atlantic roughly a week ago and the projected path sends the storm right into Florida during the week of the RNC. Not far behind Issac is Tropical Storm Joyce, which formed a few days ago. The big question right now is whether the Issac will strengthen into a hurricane by this weekend. It is quite possible that it will reach at least Category 1 status by Saturday, depending on its track and how much wind sheer (if any) it encounters. The second question is where will the storm make landfall?

Government officials here in Tampa are prepared to cancel the RNC if the threat from Issac becomes too great, which I certainly cannot blame them if this circumstance occurs. There are so many visitors, in addition to residents, that would need to be evacuated…and FAST, if the storm were to move our way.

Because the weather changes so much, I would advise everyone to stay tuned to their local TV stations (like Bay News 9) for updates.

With that said, I wanted to remind everyone about how important it is to be prepared for the Hurricane season and to inform everyone that you do have options if you are not able to evacuate from the Bay Area.

Click “Continue Reading” to read further on my previous posting about the 2012 Hurricane Season.

Continue reading Watching Issac…

RNC Roundup

Hi Everyone,

Despite my computer troubles, I was determined to get at least one post up this week. With the Republican National Convention just days away; you may have noticed many of the temporary venues going up in downtown Tampa. At this point; many municipal government offices in downtown Tampa are beginning to pack their bags and move to satellite locations, where they can continue offering services while being away from the security perimeter that is being set up around the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the event will be held. Both HART and PSTA have finalized (for the most part) which transit services will be detoured during the week-long event. You can view the link below to see more information regarding the various road closures and transit detours during the convention.

I must stress once again that if you don’t need to be in downtown Tampa or downtown St. Pete when the many events are in motion; please avoid the areas altogether. Though St. Pete will be in the midst of the opening celebrations at Tropicana Field, an event zone has been set up throughout the city for the duration of the convention, so many streets in the area may remain closed for the entire week. However; if you do plan to be in the area; please be mindful of the heightened security presence and tons and tons of protesters. I certainly don’t want to see anyone hurt because the rules were not followed. With that said; I wish everyone a safe and wonderful rest of the month! I will be slow to post my other posts due to limited internet access, etc. for the next few weeks.

For a summary of the latest transit detours and road closures; click here.

 

Warmest Regards;

HARTride 2012

RNC = Road Closures & Transit Detours

Please note that due to the rapidly changing information; this post will be periodically updated. Be sure to check back for updates. The last update to this post was on 7/31/12.

On July 23, 2012, the US Secret Service unveiled its listing of roadway closures throughout the Tampa Bay Area during the Republican National Convention. And boy do we have a lot of thoroughfares on the list. Most of the closures will be centered in around downtown Tampa; where the event will be held. However, due to RNC events in downtown St. Pete; some roadways there will be closed as well.

In Tampa; some of the roadways to be closed during the RNC (which will be held August 26 through the 30) include the following:

  • Bayshore Blvd northeast of Swann Ave (Access will be available to the Davis Islands)
  • Platt St, Brorien St, and Frankland St bridges
  • Basically every single downtown roadway south of Whiting St (access to Harbour Island will be limited)
  • The Lee Roy Selmon Expressway between Willow Ave and 50th St (the Reversible Lanes will remain open)
  • Tampa Bay Blvd between Dale Mabry Hwy & Himes Ave

In St. Pete; many city roadways will be closed; in addition to Interstate 175.

In addition to the roadway closures; parking and pedestrian access through both cities will be restricted.

For the full list of roadways impacted (including maps of the affected areas); click here. To view the article on Bay News 9; click here.

Click “Continue Reading” for updates on Public Transit Restrictions/Detours.

Continue reading RNC = Road Closures & Transit Detours