I hope you’ve enjoyed my Transit 101 series & have been able to get some helpful tips out of it. For those of you who may still be intimidated about riding public transit, some transit agencies offer complementary travel training programs to help assist first time transit riders.
Such programs will allow the rider to schedule an appointment with the transit agency & have a special transit agency staff member meet with the rider. The rider will then have a chance to learn how the system works, how to read a transit schedule, pay fares, make transfers, & ask the staff member any other questions that he or she may have about the system. Such programs are provided at no added cost to the rider & the transit agency offering the program will generally provide the first ride completely free.
When making your appointment with the transit agency, you will want to have a specific destination in mind – such a place of employment, school/university, or major point of interest (i.e. museums, zoos, etc.).
The following transit agencies that I am aware of, provide complementary travel training programs. If you’re unsure as to whether yours does, please contact them directly.
In this episode of Transit 101, I will be briefly discussing how to make transfers. Making transfers from one bus or rail route to another can sometimes be intimidating. However, it’s very important that you know what to do in order to make vital connections possible.
The first type of transfer is a parallel transfer. These are the easiest transfers to make because they do not always involve you having to cross a street – especially if multiple routes (regardless of direction) all serve the same stop at once.
The above photo is of one of several regular Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) bus stops by which you can easily make a parallel transfer to a variety of routes. This particular stop is #5281 along FL State Road 580 by Summerdale Dr (along the northern perimeter of Westfield Countryside Mall). All of the bus stops that surround the mall allow customers to make a parallel transfer to at least three other bus routes because buses are required to travel in a clockwise pattern in this area.
To make a parallel transfer, simply exit the bus or train at the stop or station, then wait for the next vehicle of your choice to arrive. Please always keep your distance away from the edge of the boarding platform & allow arriving customers to exit the vehicle first before boarding.
In cases where you may need to cross a street or platform to make your parallel transfer, please use extra caution. Follow applicable signage & if needing to cross a street – use a crosswalk if possible.
The second type of transfer is a perpendicular transfer. This is where you would transfer from one service that intersects another. This type of transfer can be challenging because it requires customers to pay closer attention to where they’re going in order to make that transfer happen. In some cases, bus stops & rail platforms might not necessarily line up with each other, so it’s very important to follow applicable signage or use a map to help locate your particular transfer stop.
In the above graphic, I illustrate a fictional city that has many bus lines, as well as a few light rail & subway lines. In this type of scenario, it can be tricky to make a transfer – let’s say between bus route 7 & bus route 9 because the stops don’t necessarily line up as opposed to the transfer between bus route 7 & bus route 36. The reason why some bus stops may not line up as well as others at certain intersections is due to situations by which placing a bus stop could create a very unsafe environment – such as turn lanes, rail lines, trees, & other unmovable obstructions. So in some situations, you may need to walk a bit farther to connect to your next route.
Transferring at a major transfer point
Major transfer points, like a transit center – serving multiple bus &/or rail lines – can bring forth a lot of convenience, but also a lot of confusion for first-time riders. It is very important here to examine station maps & signage to ensure that you are traveling to the correct route. Additionally, construction & other happenings may cause normal boarding locations to change or be skipped by some services. So in the event of such, you will need to be prepared to alter your commute if necessary.
One such example is the construction project at the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) Marion Transit Center in Tampa. Each of the bus bays are being reconstructed due to the bricks and concrete being worn out after many years. This construction has prompted the agency to re-assign bus staging throughout the complex.
When making transfers, please bear in mind that some transit agencies charge a separate “Transfer Fee” to make transfers. You will want to check with your respective transit agency before embarking on your trip. In many cases, transfer fees will not apply if you are using an all-day pass, weekly pass, or monthly pass.
For this month’s photo, I held a quarterly contest in the Global Transit Guidebook Forum Facebook Group. Despite there being a few member submissions, my own contribution won out.
So with that being said, we return back to the Tampa Bay region & profile Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) # 1104, which was one of eight buses that the agency acquired from Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT). # 1104 entered revenue service on 10/07/2019 & has been on normal assignment on Routes 60LX or 275LX since. On occasion, it will be assigned to Routes 17, 20X, 24LX, 25LX, or 360LX.
I originally intended to publish Part 3 of my 2017 NYC trip series back in July of 2017, but some personal obligations & hurricane season both got in the way, so thus this part was not published until 09/11/2017.
With Hurricane Irma now past us, I am gradually resuming my normal posts. With that, it’s about that time that I continue my series on my recent trip to New York City. In this episode, I will briefly describe my layover in Washington D.C.’s Ronald Reagan National Airport, as well as why you’ll likely never see me on board a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) subway train.
So in departing from Tampa, everything was smooth sailing! My flight departed on time and had no issues whatsoever. The only downside was that WiFi service on board the plane was not complimentary like some airlines. However, I made due with scratch paper and a pen to conjure a fictional bus schedule on, so it wasn’t all that bad.
Upon arrival in Washington D.C., I didn’t have a whole lot of time to take photos of the terminal or really get a good glimpse of the complex being that I only had about 45 minutes to connect between terminals for my flight to New York’s LaGuardia Airport (my flight arrived at 11:10am and my connecting flight began boarding at 12-noon). I also needed to grab a quick bite to eat for lunch, so each second counted.
Despite the relatively small footprint of the existing terminal, getting from one terminal to the next was bit more challenging then I thought. My arriving flight was in Terminal C and my connecting flight was in Terminal B, right across the tarmac. However, to get between terminals, one would have to exit into the main terminal area, and then go through security again to enter the adjoining concourse. Now since each airline is pretty much self-contained at their respective terminal, crossing from one terminal to another doesn’t happen as much. However, American Airlines is the only airline at the airport that has a presence in both Terminals B and C, so you can see how this can become a problem.
Fortunately, AA realizes this conundrum and provides a complimentary terminal connection shuttle so that its passengers can quickly get between Terminals B and C without having to exit and re-enter through security. This cuts down on connection time and lessens hassles. While locating the gate area where I could catch the shuttle was a bit hard to find, once I got down to the shuttle boarding area, the rest of my time at Reagan National was a breeze! The shuttle bus ride only took about 3 minutes to complete and I was able to snag a quick lunch at one of the Asian eateries in Terminal B. After my meal, I proceeded to the boarding area, as there was only a few minutes left before the next boarding call.
Scanning OneBusAway in DC
While I mainly use the OneBusAway smartphone app in the Tampa Bay region for HART and PSTA, the app does work in Washington D.C. for the WMATA Metrobus system, as the agency uses OBA for bus tracking. The desktop interface in fact, is the “Enterprise” version that HART, PSTA, and the New York MTA use. WMATA brands its bus tracker as “busETA”.
So while eating lunch, I tried to capture a couple of WMATA’s bus routes on the OBA app. However, my signal wasn’t very strong and I was only able to screenshot a bus traveling on Route 23B, which traverses nearby the airport. The bus fleet number indicates that the bus that was shown in the screen capture is a 2015 New Flyer XN40 (40′ CNG). WMATA’s bus fleet comprises of New Flyer buses, as well as some Orion and NABI buses (the latter two were purchased by New Flyer).
Now looking at the schedule on WMATA’s website, the 23 is actually split into three segments: A, B, & T. Each segment serves specific parts of the line during specific trips. If you’re not careful with which trip you’re boarding, you may end up missing your connection or having to transfer to another segment to complete your trip.
The Dreaded Metro (Subway)
While the New York City Subway has its many downsides, I’m always willing to risk my commute there because I love the NYC transit system too much to allow problematic commutes stop me from capturing awesome photos and experiences. However, the D.C. subway system has had some recent problems that have proven to be too much for me to want to endure – specifically several fires that weren’t handled very well (most notably the fire incident at L’Enfant Plaza). In addition, WMATA’s subway railcar problems seem to be worse off than NYC’s. Until WMATA gets its act together, I’m very wary of stepping aboard a subway train in D.C.