Tag Archives: Featured

HART Service Changes – Effective 3/26/17

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


Route 00400 MetroRapid – Minor running time changes.

Route 00005 Route 5 – Minor running time changes on weekends.

Route 00007ARoute 00007B Route 7 – Minor running time changes on all service days.

Route 00012 Route 12 – Minor running time changes on all service days.

Route 00031 Route 31 – Minor running time changes.

Route 00032 Route 32 – Minor running time changes on weekends.

Route 00036 Route 36 – Weekday service between Carrollwood and Britton Plaza extended to 11:00pm in both directions. Running times changed.

Route 00046 Route 46 – Weekday service extended to 10:00pm for eastbound and 11:00pm for westbound. Running times changed.

Route 00047LX Route 47LX – Minor running time changes.

Route 00053LX Route 53LX – Minor running time changes.

Route 00057 Route 57 – Minor running time changes on all service days.

Route 00200X Route 200X – Minor running time changes.

Picture670 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.


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PSTA Board votes to purchase two battery electric buses

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At the February 22, 2017 board meeting, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority board voted to purchase two 35-foot battery electric transit buses, plus a charging station from BYD Motors at a cost not to exceed $2,200,000. Nine members voted for the purchase while five voted against. One or two members were not present at the meeting.

The vote to purchase the two buses caps off what has been nearly two years of analysis and discussion within the agency, and between elected and community leaders, and citizens. The move also quells what could have been a very heated debate between environmental advocates who championed the agency to take part in the pilot project and Tea Party conservatives who were insistent that PSTA had broken a prior obligation to revert to purchasing only straight diesel transit bus purchases following the failed Greenlight Pinellas initiative.

The idea of PSTA taking part in an electric bus pilot project surfaced sometime in 2014, but gained momentum in 2015. During the course of mid 2015; four manufacturers were brought in to showcase their vehicles and convey their benefits to PSTA leaders, elected officials, and riders. First was Proterra Inc., followed by BYD, Complete Coach Works, and New Flyer.

In 2016, further analysis and research was done to examine costs and benefits to PSTA, as well as decide whether the investment was well worth it. During this time, there was a lot of misconceptions going around that the initial costs of the purchase would far outweigh the long term benefits of the electric buses, as well as misconceptions that straight diesel buses were a much economical choice over the battery electric buses and even the existing hybrid buses that the agency was purchasing.

In late 2016, the issue was brought up as to how to pay for the charging station, as PSTA only had resources available for the buses themselves. Pinellas County leaders ultimately voted to allocate a portion of settlement money from the 2010 BP oil spill incident in the Gulf of Mexico towards the purchase of the charging station. The City of St. Petersburg has also expressed chipping in funds for the pilot project and ongoing operation of the buses, and Duke Energy has expressed its desire to assist with the project as well.

Concerns regarding the cost of the electric buses and whether it was worth it for the agency to purchase them stirred the five board members who ultimately voted against the move. County Commissioner Brian Scott was specifically concerned about a recent report that came out from the Tampa Bay Times regarding the dire financial limitations on both PSTA and neighboring Hillsborough Area Regional Transit. Tea Party conservative Barbara Haselden, who served as head of No Tax For Tracks Pinellas, voiced criticism towards the board for not following through on what she sees as taxpayer wishes to create an economically sound and efficient transit system by reverting back to only purchasing straight diesel transit buses.

Once the buses are in operation, it is very likely that they will be used as part of an enhanced circulator route in Downtown St. Petersburg. There is currently a study underway to re-evaluate downtown circulator service. The buses will also complement three 35-foot Gillig Low Floor Hybrid Drive BRT style transit buses that are in place for the agency’s 2018 bus fleet order. While no official timeline has been set for the production and delivery of the BYD buses, it is likely that they will arrive sometime in late 2018. The Gillig buses will likely be numbered 18101 through 18103, while the BYD buses will likely be assigned unit numbers 18110 and 18111.

Read the full Meeting Agenda


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New Story Project – Tampa Bay of the Future

You may be reading the title of this post, but that’s not what I’m calling this story. In fact, right now, the story doesn’t have a name – not even a working title. However, I feel that I have put together enough details to be able to bring forth some basic information about the project to my readers.


What is this story about?

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Nathan Tipton – the main character of the story. Note: All of my characters are created in The Sims 4.

 

First and foremost, this is purely a work of fiction. While it does take place in a real life area, the characters, venues, and many other elements of the story are all fictional, and all of my own creation. There will be some references to present-day events, places, and public figures, but all are done so coincidentally.

The story takes place in the Tampa Bay Area, but primarily St. Petersburg – all set in the year 2066 (later going into 2067). There won’t be flying cars (I don’t see that we’ll be in the Jetsons age that quickly), but vehicles will be automated and a key roadway that many use today won’t be in existence. There will also be a vast bus and monorail system involved, as well as a built-out Brightline intercity rail system, and a wide array of areas for people to take a breath of fresh air at (also known as parks).

The story revolves around a young man named Nathan Tipton. He is a police officer in San Francisco who winds up moving to St. Petersburg with his mom and younger brother (the latter who is also a police officer). While trying to get adjusted to his new life in Florida, he runs into some old friends and adversaries while trying to make new friends and find his forever soulmate. Throughout the story, Nate also encounters a variety of situations with some being harder to deal with than others.

As I continue to put this story together, I will post subsequent updates regarding the characters, venues, and the overall area by which the story takes place in. I don’t want to reveal too much more about the plot so as to not spoil everything.

If you’d like to provide any suggestions for this project, please feel free to contact me through the Contact Form (link is below).


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

Transit 101 – Episode 2 – Understanding a transit schedule

Transit 101 Cover 1

In my second episode of Transit 101, I’ll go over how to understand bus and train schedules. This is key to planning out your transit trip efficiently, especially if you’re making connections to other transit lines during your trip. Despite the technological advances that have made transit usage much easier (such as OneBusAway), many customers wind up falling back onto the paper timetable for reference.

System Map.
PSTA System Map cover.

If you’re new to transit, it is often very helpful to first examine the transit agency’s system map – so that you can have an idea of where you are traveling to and which routes to use. Transit system maps can vary greatly by transit agency. Probably one of the most detailed set of system maps I’ve seen thus far is from the New York City MTA.

A SunRail schedule timetable and travel guide. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.
A SunRail schedule timetable and travel guide. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

Although the appearance of schedule timetables greatly vary by transit agency, the principle structure is largely the same across all agencies and modes. Schedule booklets and brochures typically include a map, showing where the bus or rail route goes to, and corresponding transit connections at each major time point.

Looking at the Weekday section of the schedule timetable for HART Route 5.
Looking at the Weekday section of the schedule timetable for HART Route 5.

Schedule timetables themselves provide the direction the bus or train is travelling, along with the names of major time points (typically intersections, landmarks, or designated stations), and the scheduled times that the bus or train is to depart from that time point. Some agencies even display layover points, by which both arrival and departure times are displayed for the layover point.

Depending on the transit agency – timepoints can be lettered (like HART) or numbered (like the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, or JTA, in Jacksonville, FL)

A close-up view - noting the Span of Service (in this case - Weekday), Route number and destination/corridor name, time points, and beginning runs.
A close-up view – noting the Span of Service (in this case – Weekday), Route number and destination/corridor name, time points, and beginning runs.

At first glance, a transit schedule may look intimidating, especially to a new rider. The more trips and time points there are on a schedule, the more confusing things can get. All of the transit districts that I’ve been on have paper schedules (as well as online timetables) that are pretty straightforward if you have a good idea of where you’re going to. However, these timetables may mean nothing for a new customer unless he or she knows how to use it.

One thing that I’ve always kept in mind when traveling via transit, is to know where you’re going before you leave. As I mentioned in my previous post, there are several ways to plan out your transit trip, including via the internet! It always helps to know where the closest bus stop is to both your origin, and your destination, as well as to know which time points your bus stop falls in between. You always want to allow sufficient time to arrive at the bus or rail stop so that you do not miss your trip.

For example, let’s say that you live right off 40th St in Tampa, just south of Busch Blvd. Since this intersection is a time point on the HART Route 5 schedule, it’s not too difficult to pinpoint when the bus is scheduled to arrive. However, you want to be at the bus or rail stop/station no later than 5 to 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure.  If you need to purchase tickets from a ticket vending machine or staffed ticket booth, then you should arrive at the stop/station no later than 20 to 25 minutes prior to the scheduled departure. If the closest transit stop/station is quite a walk away from where you are, you will need to build in sufficient time to get to the stop/station. Inclement weather situations will require even more time to travel to and from the transit stops.

If you happen to have a smartphone, there are many apps that will help you to locate your closest transit stop/station and pinpoint which transit lines serve them, as well as predict when the next bus or train is to arrive. While I am going to go further in-depth into smartphone apps for transit in a separate blog post, it is to note that more and more transit agencies are implementing GPS tracking for their vehicles so that knowing when your bus or train will arrive involves a lot less guesswork.


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