Tag Archives: Hillsborough Area Regional Transit

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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Legalese | Disclosures

HART achieves ISO 14001 Certification for Environmental Sustainability and Management

Environmental Sustainability 1

On Monday, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit announced that it has earned the prestigious ISO 14001 Certification for its Environmental Sustainability and Management System (ESMS). Why is this important? Because only 13 transit agencies in the US have met the standards needed to earn this certification, and HART has become the first and only transit agency in the state of Florida to be able to do so.

Read more about this news at HART’s “In-Transit” Blog (hosted by Blogger/Google)

OneBusAway – PSTA

If you visited Hillsborough Area Regional Transit’s OneBusAway desktop website (http://tampa.onebusaway.org/enterprise/) this morning, you may have noticed something different.

PSTA's Route 59 on the HART OneBusAway desktop website.
PSTA’s Route 59 on the HART OneBusAway desktop website.

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.

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.

Don't worry, PSTA's current "Real Time" interface, powered by Clever Devices, is not going away.
Don’t worry, PSTA’s current “Real Time” interface, powered by Clever Devices, is not going away.

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…


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Legalese | Disclosures

The Travel Log by HARTride 2012 Facebook Group is now open!

Why Privatizing Public Transit is BAD NEWS

The debate has sprung up at least a couple of times in the past five years here in Tampa Bay, but now it seems that the debate on whether to contract out public transit agencies to a private operator is gaining some steam. Right smack dab in the middle of this debate are at least three public transit agencies in Central Florida; Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT), Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT), and most recently…the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (also known as LYNX).

The argument to privatize transit

Many fiscal conservatives, including those who associate themselves with the Tea Party, have argued that publicly run transit agencies are financially bloated and inefficient. They chastise local governments for not having their “ducks in a row” when it comes to operating reliable transit services without breaking the bank, and for being far too dependent on state and federal funding sources – namely the latter. In turn, they also argue that private companies such as MV Transportation and TransDev can run these agencies with greater efficiency and financial solvency than the municipalities that currently operate and fund them. It almost sounds like logical sense in the minds of fiscal conservatives…right? Why have governments operate inefficient transit when private enterprise can manage transit like a business?

With the economic downturn of 2008/09, many transit agencies were forced to slash services as federal and state funding for transit declined. Many agencies have turned to contracting out at least some of their services to the private sector in an effort to save money.

What privatized transit generally looks like

There are two major forms of privatization that pertain to public transit: 1) Contract out transit services to the private operator, but allow the public entity to plan out and finance those services, 2) Allow the private operator to handle both operations and planning.

In the first scenario – seen in parts of the US; the private operator would be contracted to provide their workforce to operate the transit routes and would be given the necessary resources (route assignments, schedules, etc.) for the contracted employees to do their jobs. Meanwhile, the transit agency would retain responsibility for planning and financing services and their board of directors and executive staff would likely be retained to oversee day-to-day operations.

In the second scenario – seen in many parts of Europe and in Australia; the private entity does virtually all the work…from operating the routes, to paying the employees, to planning out and financing services. The role of the government in the scenario is reduced and the public element of the transit agency may be limited to just the board of directors and a few key executive members. In this case, the transit agencies operate similar to what the airlines would, bringing forth a business-like competition to the service area.

The pros and cons to privatization

While I’m not going to spend a ton of time going through each of the pros and cons of privatizing transit in detail, it is important to know what some of them are.

Pros

  • Generally less burden on public entities and governments.
  • Competitive environment – like the airlines (in the case of the second scenario described above).
  • Greater flexibility of routes and services.
  • Greater economic flexibility.
  • Generally lower employee wages.
  • Lower overall cost of doing business.

Cons

  • Focus is on making profits, not providing excellent service – Massive cuts to the agency’s services and routes could be made at the expense of meeting profit margins.
  • Less accountability – difficult to hold the private operator accountable for its actions.
  • Greater risk of late buses and trains, as well as “no shows”.
  • Less public input on service changes, except public hearings that are required to be held by law.
  • Lower customer satisfaction and employee morale.
  • Government subsidies needed to shore up unproductive services and meet government regulations – such as Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act here in the US.

Problems with privatized transit in Fairfield, CA

Fairfield and Suisun Transit (FAST) in Fairfield, CA has experienced problems since it was outsourced to MV Transportation. Buses have been consistently late – or not shown up at all, customer complaints have increased, and employee morale has decreased. Despite these troubles, FAST decided to renew its contract with MV in 2014. As recent as May, 2015, dismay has been expressed over how FAST transit workers are compensated. These problems definitely bring to the forefront that contracting out transit services to the private sector isn’t the best way to go about saving money and rebuilding public trust.

Agencies in New Orleans, LA, Long Island (Nassau County), NY, and even Austin, TX have all outsourced their transit operations to private companies. While I’m not sure about how Austin is doing, both Nassau County, NY and New Orleans have experienced problems since privatizing their transit services.

The situation with MCAT/SCAT

Discussions about privatizing MCAT and/or SCAT have arisen in recent years, but were never pursued further. Additionally, a 2013 survey showed that almost 60% of customers were against even merging the two agencies. However, things took an interesting turn when private transit operator TransDev jumped into the foray with an unsolicited proposal to merge the two entities and simultaneously making the united entity a privatized one. While Manatee County seems to be on board, Sarasota County needs more time to examine the repercussions should the proposal be approved. Some have pointed that MCAT and SCAT would do better as one body – but not under private hands, and many customers have voiced time and time again that they don’t want their transit agencies to be run by a private company – fearing many of the same repercussions that are already being felt in Fairfield, CA with FAST.

The situation with LYNX

Some in Orlando, including Congressman John Mica, have expressed dismay at LYNX’s lack of ability to create a better transit network – including efficient connections to SunRail. These parties believe that contracting out LYNX services to the private sector would force the agency to make better decisions in order to better serve customers. There is even talk of legislation that would basically impose strict guidelines on LYNX and force the agency to bid out its system to private transit operators like TransDev and MV. I’m not sure how far the legislation would go, or if it would only apply to LYNX, or stretch out to be a statewide mandate – eventually opening the door for agencies like Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) to have to do the same thing. One thing is clear though, the SunRail advocacy group – The SunRail Riders – have expressed heavy dismay towards the proposal, citing that it will turn LYNX into an entity that beefs up SunRail connections at the expense of routes that are dearly needed by riders in other areas of Osceola, Orange, and Seminole Counties.

Why privatizing MCAT/SCAT could lead to the privatization of PSTA

If the privatization plan goes through with MCAT and SCAT, there is no doubt in my mind that Tea Party activists, like Barbara Haselden of Pinellas County, will see even more reason to lobby county and state officials into contracting out the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) out to the private sector. These activists have long argued that PSTA is mismanaged and cannot think outside the box. They also believe that privatization is the only way to “protect the taxpayers from further waste”. PSTA has already contracted out paratransit services, only to see disastrous results (although issues supposedly have been addressed and resolved), and the agency is now having to look at possibly contracting out its express routes due to budgetary constraints, and the failure of the Greenlight Pinellas referendum.

Why privatizing LYNX could lead to the privatization of SunRail

Tea Party activists have also argued that both LYNX and SunRail are grossly inefficient and that SunRail has no long term funding source, or long term management plan by the various municipalities that would have to begin operating it when the state relinquishes control in 2021. If LYNX becomes privatized, there is no doubt in my mind that these activists will call on the state to also bid out SunRail to a private operator. Why? Because I’m very sure that their argument will be “if you privatize LYNX, then you also have to privatize SunRail”, and I’m willing to bet that this is exactly what winds up happening. In addition, privatizing LYNX could also open the door for – as I mentioned, PSTA to also be bidded out to the private sector. It’s like a game of dominoes…once one agency is privatized, others will start looking into privatization as well. And then fiscal conservatives, along with the Tea Party, will advocate our elected officials to force privatization upon our transit agencies.

All three agencies could stand to lose a lot

If MCAT, SCAT, and LYNX are all privatized, you can likely expect that customer satisfaction will plummet, customer complaints will rise, buses will be late – or not even show up, needed routes will be cut in order to shore up ones that the private operator sees as “profitable”, employee morale will decline, and the list goes on and on. In short, expect far worse service from these agencies if they are privatized. It has already happened to FAST and several other agencies throughout the US. We simply cannot allow this to happen here in Florida.

Tampa Dreams of SunRail

Metro Orlando is very grateful to have SunRail! Because here in Tampa Bay, it’s hard to build a better transportation network without a meaningful passenger rail system.

In collaboration with the SunRail Riders group – which advocates for better service on the SunRail Commuter Rail system in Orlando – I’m going to talk about SunRail and the challenges that Tampa Bay faces being without a passenger rail system. This post highlights the 7-day-a-week congestion along I-275, challenges with keeping the TECOline Streetcar Line running, and the ongoing battle between transit advocates and supporters, and the rail haters.

I invite you to read the full post at sunrailriders.com and tell us what you think. I want to take a few moments to thank the SunRail Riders for giving me this opportunity, and for everything that they do to help make SunRail even better! I hope to be able to write other pieces for the SunRail Riders in the future.

NOTE: Corresponding media in the post (except this photo) is not mine. Credit goes to their respective authors.

HART Service Changes for Spring, 2015

Markup 1

It’s that time of year again to report on service changes for Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART). For this round of service changes, effective Sunday, April 26, 2015, several routes will see scheduling and/or time point changes to help improve efficiency throughout the system. Routes 8, 9, 31, 36, and 53LX will see scheduling changes and Routes 24X and 25LX will see deletion of a time point.

Summary of Service Changes

Please see the graphic below for a quick summary:

Markup 2

Scheduling Changes

Now, let’s go into greater detail about the changes for each route:

Route 8

The following weekday northbound departures from the Marion Transit Center will change:

4:30AM departure changes to 4:45AM
5:00AM departure changes to 5:15AM
5:30AM departure changes to 5:40AM

Plus various running time changes throughout the day

The following weekday southbound departures from Westfield Brandon Mall will change:

5:00AM departure changes to 5:10AM
5:30AM departure changes to 5:40AM

Plus various running time changes throughout the day

On Saturdays; all trips will depart the Marion Transit Center at :20 after the hour instead of :30 past. Trips from Brandon will remain the same, but running times will change.

On Sundays; all trips will depart the Marion Transit Center at :20 after the hour instead of :15 past. Departures from Westfield Brandon will adjust from :30 past the hour to :40 past.

Click here for the full schedule (Opens in a new window)

Route 9

On Saturdays; departure times from the Marion Transit Center will change from :50 after the hour to :00 past. Trips leaving the University Area Transit Center will change from :15 past the hour to :10 past. Layovers at the Yukon Transfer Center will also be adjusted, along with running times.

On Sundays; departure times from the Marion Transit Center will change from :50 after the hour to :00 past. Trips leaving the University Area Transit Center will change from :05 past the hour to :10 past. Layovers at the Yukon Transfer Center will also be adjusted, along with running times.

Weekday schedules will remain unchanged

Click here for the full schedule (Opens in a new window)

Route 31

Route 31 will see the following changes in the northbound direction:

5:10AM departure remains as-is, but running times will be adjusted
6:15AM departure changes to 6:20AM
7:30AM departure remains as-is, but running times will be adjusted
8:45AM departure changes to 8:50AM
10:00AM departure changes to 10:05AM
11:15AM departure changes to 11:20AM
12:30PM departure changes to 12:35PM
1:45PM departure changes to 1:50PM
3:00PM departure changes to 3:05PM
4:20PM departure changes to 4:25PM
5:30PM departure changes to 5:40PM
6:15PM departure changes to 6:20PM
6:45PM departure changes to 7:05PM

The following changes will be made in the southbound direction:

All morning and midday departures from Westfield Brandon will remain the same, but running times will change. The following departures will see adjustments:

4:20PM departure changes to 4:25PM
5:35PM departure changes to 5:45PM
6:45PM departure changes to 6:55PM

Click here for the full schedule (Opens in a new window)

Route 36

HART Flex customers will need to pay close attention to these changes, as they will impact their transfers to and from Route 36.

Weekday northbound departures will change from :00 and :30 past the hour to :05 and :35 past. Please note that the two early departures from the West Tampa Transfer Center will change from 5:20AM and 5:50AM respectively to 5:25AM and 5:55AM respectively.

Most weekday southbound departures will change from :00 and :30 past the hour to :25 and :55 past. There are a few exceptions however, please pay close attention to the following:

4:30PM, 5:00PM, and 5:30PM departures remain as-is, but running times will change
6:00PM trip changes to 6:10PM
6:30PM trip changes to 6:35PM
7:00PM trip remains as-as, but running times will change
7:30PM and 8:00PM trips change to 7:25PM and 7:55PM respectively
8:25PM and 9:25PM trips will remain as-is, but running times will change

On Saturdays; southbound departures will change from :40 after the hour to :35 past. Northbound departures will remain the same.

On Sundays; southbound departures will change from :40 after the hour to :35 past. Northbound departures will remain the same.

Please note that running times will change on ALL trips.

Click here for the full schedule (Opens in a new window)

Route 53LX

In order to accommodate the new bus stop at St. Joseph’s Hospital South, all running times have changed.

Click here for the full schedule (Opens in a new window)

Time Point Changes

Routes 24X and 25LX

The timepoint at S. Dale Mabry Hwy and Pinewood St will be eliminated from schedules and maps. The southbound stop will continue to be served on inbound trips (morning) and the northbound stop will continue to be served on outbound trips (afternoon).

Travel Tips

Please plan your day accordingly, as arriving too late WILL result in you missing your bus.

You can always download the OneBusAway app to your smartphone and check when your bus is predicted to arrive. The app is available through the iTunes Store (for Apple devices) and the Google Play Store (for Android devices). Don’t have access to an Apple or Android smartphone? No problem! View instructions for other supported devices, desktop/laptop computer, and text messaging on the HART website.

Did you know that OneBusAway Tampa now supports touch tone telephone lookup? Just call 813-452-4622 and follow the easy-to-use instructions.

If you’re on a desktop or laptop PC, you can also track where your bus is located before you go! Just visit the third-party Laicos Bus Finder and input the addresses of where you’re coming from, and where you’re going to. The interface will then show in real-time where your bus is traveling (very helpful when a bus is on detour and your nearby stop might not be serviced). Smartphone apps are in the works from what I understand.

Need further info? Discover a discrepancy with the schedules? Please contact HART at 813-254-4278. Please keep in mind that all scheduling info posted here, I have pulled directly from the HART website. If you happen to see anything that I’ve posted incorrectly, please let me know.

Changes to SB I-275 through WestShore

This upcoming Friday evening, a huge traffic alignment shift is scheduled to occur, weather permitting. All southbound lanes of I-275 between the I-4 junction and State Road 60 will be closed beginning at 11:30pm Friday night. Those lanes should begin to reopen, along the new alignment, around 5:30am.

During this time, all traffic will be detoured off I-275 SB and I-4 WB at the downtown exit ramps. Commuters will be directed to Kennedy Blvd, where they can reconnect to I-275 past WestShore Plaza, or any of the cross roads that intersect with the highway (Lois, Dale Mabry, or Howard/Armenia).

Alternatively, commuters from the north can use the Hillsborough Ave or MLK exits from SB I-275 to connect to Armenia or Dale Mabry. For those connecting to Lois, commuters can alternatively use the Floribraska exit, then connect to Columbus Dr via Tampa St. For those coming from I-4, commuters can either use Hillsborough Ave or connect to the Selmon toll road.

When the new alignment of SB I-275 opens up on Saturday, weather permitting, the new WestShore Blvd exit ramp will open, allowing HART Route 61LX outbound from downtown to resume routing.

For a unique perspective on the I-275 construction, I invite you to visit the I-275 Florida Blog.

On delivery – HART’s new CNG Gilligs

image
#1502 is in the house! Photo Credit: HART

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) welcomed eight of 22 brand new swanky Compressed Natural Gas-powered 40-foot Gillig Low Floor buses this week. These buses will largely replace the remaining 2001 and some of the 2002 fleet, which are reaching the ends of their useful lives. #1522 will replace #2416, which caught fire last year while dead heading from an express run it had just finished.

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

Fix our Roads, yes. BUT don’t abandon transit for TOLL ROADS

NTFT Hillsborough Truth Page Logo 2

With Hillsborough County beginning its Go Hillsborough outreach process, which I will be discussing very soon (I’m still working on the first of two blog posts on the subject), the Tea Party insiders and activists of Hillsborough County, led by Sharon Calvert, are turning up the heat on county officials and making their own ANTI-TRANSIT agenda LOUD AND CLEAR to voters.

Continue reading Fix our Roads, yes. BUT don’t abandon transit for TOLL ROADS