MetroRapid stop confusion continues, why HART needs to fix this ASAP?

Several months ago, I published a post that outlined concerns about HART’s MetroRapid system. Among those concerns, was the fact that MetroRapid stops are physically separated from local stops, which created a lot of rider confusion.

Unfortunately, to this day, HART still has not resolved this issue, and riders are still confused. In a hot Florida day, most people want to board a bus…ANY BUS! Some don’t care what bus they get on, as long as it is A BUS. If it is raining and storming outside, people are going to flag down the first bus they see. Unfortunately, instead of HART taking this matter seriously, they simply dismissed rider complains about the issue as an “Invalid Complaint” – See page 7 of HART Operations Division Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) presentation, which was presented to the HART Board during its September 8, 2014 meeting.

I’m very sorry HART, but this matter regarding bus stop confusion between local and MetroRapid needs to be taken very seriously. If people are voicing their dismay about this, they need to be listened to! Not thrown off to the side! Hillsborough County is gearing up for a second attempt at a sales tax referendum to improve county transit, which includes YOUR system, OUR system…I should say, because many of us Hillsborough residents use HART daily. Having to differentiate between a local stop and a MetroRapid stop should not be a responsibility that a transit customer has to take. That should be something that HART is able to resolve rather quickly and efficiently, without having to bust the bank. After all, HART boasted about the “time savings” of MetroRapid over Local Route 2 when the service first rolled out last May. If HART wants to keep the “time  savings” up to par, or even improve the flow of MetroRapid, I strongly suggest that HART look into merging local stops with MetroRapid stops.

Let me ask this, to put things into a different perspective? What about the out of town visitors, who don’t have more than a very basic idea of the HART system? Let’s say that I was coming from a city, where bus stops are able to serve all types of bus service provided by my local transit agency? Stops that can not only be utilized for local and express routes, but also circulator, Flex, shuttle, and even BRT. I know that there are at least several agencies out there that do this. Do you all expect these riders to be left to their own device when a MetroRapid bus passes them by on a local stop because local stops are for local buses only? And MetroRapid stops for MetroRapid buses only? Get it together HART! Seriously! If you all expect Hillsborough’s referendum to be placed onto the 2016 ballot…AND PASS…things like this have to be fixed! And soon, rather than later.

I can imagine that Sharon Calvert and the other transit critics have already taken note of this unresolved issue concerning bus stop confusion. Remember that your board member, Karen Jaroch, has a good relationship with Sharon. I have no doubt in my mind that she must be dismayed at how customer complaints like this just get dismissed for not being valid complaints. Unless HART wants to be the laughing stock of 2016, just as they were in 2010, and watch another referendum crash and burn, because people find out about these issues essentially being thrown into the trash bin, and then feel that Hillsborough doesn’t need an expanded bus system, or light rail, I strongly suggest that HART take another look at the issue regarding bus stop confusion along the MetroRapid corridor, and this time…please take it seriously.

HART staff members, if you are reading this post and have any questions about my concerns, please email me at

Thank you.

HARTride 2012

May Friday Rewind – HART MetroRapid

Friday Rewind New 1

In this edition of Friday Rewind, I’ll be taking a look back at some of my past postings regarding HART MetroRapid. And the timing of this post could not be anymore perfect, as the new service just launched earlier this week! Notice the new Friday Rewind logo? This is the logo that I’ll be using for quite a while. The old logo just didn’t have that “kick” to it.

I first began blogging about HART MetroRapid long before the new line even had a name. My first post was back in November of 2008, only a few months after my original Tampa Transit Utopia Blog was launched. During this time, HART had just launched its Project Development and Environment (or PD&E) Study to evaluate potential stops, costs of operating the system, etc. During the planning stages, there was a lot of public input going into shaping MetroRapid, including the selection of the Nebraska Ave corridor as the first phase, as Nebraska Ave is HART’s busiest bus corridor. Ideally, HART would have liked to have a true BRT line, which uses dedicated bus-only lanes to speed buses past rush hour traffic. However, as the plan evolved from its earliest stages, this idealistic vision would not come to fruition, at least for now.

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HART service changes/adjustments for May 26, 2013

With the new MetroRapid line scheduled to begin service on Tuesday, May 28, 2013; HART has released a small list of routes that will see adjustments to their weekday schedules. Although these changes will be taking effect on Sunday, May 26, 2013, the weekday changes will not be effective until Tuesday, May 28, 2013, due to the Memorial Day holiday on Monday, May 27, 2013, by which HART will be operating on a Sunday-level schedule. Changes to Route 2 service will take effect on Monday, June 10, 2013, when revenue service begins for MetroRapid.

The purpose of these changes is to allow HART to strengthen busy routes that need more buses in order to maintain efficient service. You’ve probably heard me say in previous posts about how some routes, like 30 and 34, have been lagging behind due to heavier passenger loads during the rush hours, but not enough buses to make up for the increased loads. This in-turn has created inefficiencies in weekday frequency, where frequency should be 30 minutes, but is actually more like 35 to 40 minutes.

This series of changes and adjustments will occur by taking peak weekday buses off of Route 2 and adding them to trips on Routes 16, 34, and 200X. With the arrival of HART MetroRapid, which will offer 15 minute frequency throughout the day, Local Route 2 frequency will be retracted from its current 15/20 minute weekday frequency to 30 minutes all day, 7-days a week (except OWL service, which still has buses running every hour). Along with these changes, you may notice that departure times may change slightly as well in order to improve efficiency.

To view the updated schedules for Routes 2, 16, 34, and 200X, as well as to see a pamphlet about MetroRapid service, click here.

HART MetroRapid – It’s almost here!

Construction of the HART MetroRapid line is nearly finished!

During the past several weeks, HART has been working hard to install shelters at each of the MetroRapid stops, testing out its new, sleek, green and white buses, and making final preparations for the line’s opening (such as landscaping and lighting at the stations).

On Tuesday, May 28, 2013, HART will be opening the line to the public and offer fare-free rides for a two week period to help entice ridership and work out last-minute kinks with the system. Revenue service is slated to begin on Monday, June 10, 2013. The cost to ride the MetroRapid line will be $2.00, which is the same as the local fare. This alone should be able to entice riders to use MetroRapid, because they won’t have to pay a separate higher price (like the express routes) to use the service. Of course, if you purchase a day or month pass, you’re good to go as well!

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HART MetroRapid – Part 3

Greetings everyone!

Just a quick update on the construction of HART’s MetroRapid line. Roughly a dozen shelters have been set up along the route, and all 14 Gillig Low Floor buses to be used on the line have been delivered to HART. However, it is my understanding that there have been some delays with construction of shelters and concrete landing pads. From what I’ve been told by HART staff, utility poles have impacted construction of concrete landing pads and thus have had to be relocated. Other than that, things appear to be going as planned.

A couple weeks ago, HART announced that MetroRapid will likely go into service during its June service cycle. HART currently evaluates its transit services and makes changes as needed three times a year: March, June, and November. Although there was no reason mentioned for the setback, I suspect that it is nothing major. Many project completion dates are adjusted for a variety of reasons, including those that are beyond one’s control. With that said, I hope to report back soon with some photos of shelters that have been constructed. Perhaps at some point, I’ll be able to encounter one of the green/white buses in testing mode along the Nebraska Ave or Fletcher Ave corridors.

Have a great week!

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)

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HART MetroRapid – Part 2

With HART’s MetroRapid System inching closer to completion, I thought I would take a moment to share a few things that have been happening in regards to the construction of the system.

First, and foremost, I’d like to mention again about the buses. As of November 29, 2012, eight out of twelve MetroRapid buses have been delivered. As I mentioned before; these buses are similar to that of the 25XX buses (but with a standard front). The interior is similar to the 10XX buses, but with a different livery for the seating cushions. Additionally, there are a few new features that will be noticeable to HART operators.

HART recently announced that they are putting the new buses on the road in order to test out the transit signal prioritization system that has been put into place along the MetroRapid corridor. Although many bay area intersections are being upgraded to include this system, it plays a very crucial role in the operation of MetroRapid because the MetroRapid buses will have the ability to lengthen green light cycles and shorten red light cycles as need-be. Additionally, this time frame will be used to promote the MetroRapid system and train operators on using the new buses. So be sure to look out for the buses!

If you want to see one of the MetroRapid buses from the operator’s perspective, Yo Bus Driver has a Youtube video that you can watch.

Secondly, HART also recently mentioned that the station canopies for the MetroRapid system are currently being constructed, with the first canopy installed recently at the University Area Transit Center near USF. Unlike the traditional green bus shelters that you’re used to seeing, the new MetroRapid canopies will utilize a sleek, modern design and silver and light green tones. Many canopies will be equipped with ticket vending machines and most (if not all) will be equipped with bike racks and information screens displaying arrival times of the next bus.

If you’ve seen the renderings of all of the elements that are put together for the MetroRapid stations, then you already know how awesome they look!

I hope to be able to get some photos of the MetroRapid buses, as well as other snapshots of the HART system real soon. I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had the chance to do anything significant for my blog, nor reopen my Tampa Bay Transit site as originally planned. I know that some of my readers may be in a not-so-happy mood because of all of the delays. I do sincerely apologize and hope to get everything back on track with the new year.

Warmest Regards,

HARTride 2012

HART unveils first MetroRapid bus!

Checking into my social media accounts this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the first MetroRapid bus has rolled into town! Yes, you heard me right, HART’s new MetroRapid buses have begun their cross-country trek from California to Tampa, with the first one arriving yesterday! You can view a Twitter photo of the bus from HART’s Twitter Feed. They also have posted the news on their Facebook Page.

I’m very much surprised by the release of the new buses. I did not actually think that the new MetroRapid buses would begin rolling out until maybe January, 2013 at the earliest. However, since construction of the MetroRapid system is moving along rather quickly, I guess it is better for HART to have the buses ready to roll by the time the system opens (after all, the buses have to be driven around Tampa so that drivers are accustomed to the new buses and any bugs are worked out).

My understanding is that the new buses are very similar to that of the 29XX and 10XX buses that HART added to their fleet in 2009 and 2010 respectively. However, the rear end of the bus has a similar styling to that of the 25XX buses. The interiors sport the same seating configuration as the 29XX and 10XX buses, but the color scheme is that of white, gray, and green tones to match the MetroRapid livery. It is also my understanding that HART will have 12 of these buses on the road when the first segment of the MetroRapid system opens in 2013 (I previously had mentioned 15, but because HART later decided to reduce frequency of the route from 10 minute peak headways/15 minute non-peak headways to 15 minute peak/20 minute non-peak, the number of buses to be purchased for the route was reduced to 12). The buses are manufactured by Gillig Corporation, based in Hayward, California (yes, that’s why they make that cross-country trip).

I hope to have more info on this up soon! 😀

Warmest Regards,

HARTride 2012.