Public Transit Roundup for October 9, 2013 (Sample)

In this “test” posting, I will be shaping how my regular “roundup” posts will look like. If you have any ideas, please feel free to drop me a line through my Contact form.

Please know that even though I may be posting insight about stories that deal with the various levels of government, this is NOT a political forum. Please keep in mind that this blog is moderated, so any comments you submit will be checked before they are allowed to be posted. Any comments made that are political in nature will NOT BE APPROVED. Thank you! ~ HARTride 2012

This post has been amended to include PSTA’s FY 2012/2013 ridership numbers.

Top Stories for October 9, 2013

This section will feature the top three to four headlines that I’m following for the specified time period of the post. Along with links to the actual article, I’ll also be providing a brief summary of the article and some insight. I’m still thinking on whether to make these posts daily or weekly.

Hampton Roads Transit suspends two transit studies due to the government shutdown in Washington.

News broke yesterday that two transit studies being conducted by Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) based out of Hampton, VA, were being suspended indefinitely until the government shutdown in Washington D.C. is resolved by Congress. The studies affected by this action include the Tide LRT extension study to Naval Station Norfolk, and HRT’s Origin and Destination survey. The latter study is aimed at improving HRT’s bus network.

Both of these studies are being halted because they depend on federal funding, funds by which may not be available if the congressional impasse is not resolved, or even worse…if the nation defaults. The ongoing LRT extension study for the Virginia Beach area will not be impacted by this decision because environmental studies need to be finished in a reasonable amount of time.

Although this move sounds like a blow to the future of transit in Hampton Roads, it was necessary to suspend both of these studies in order to ensure that the money is actually there to continue them.

Click here to read the full press release from HRT.

The future of the Howard Frankland Bridge may rest with the public, but could funding issues derail transit ambitions?

The Florida Department of Transportation wants to hear from the public as to what they want to see in a new bridge that is slated to replace the aging 1959 northbound span, which is structurally deficient and is nearing the end of its useful life. I posted back on October 3 about two public meetings that would allow for input. Wednesday’s meeting in St. Pete was outnumbered by transit supporters, with only two people coming out against the transit proposal, specifically any plan to put rail into the equation.

After reading the Tampa Bay Times article that was published yesterday, as well as going through comments on local forums, I’ve been thinking to myself that a lot of this project is going to be riding on what funds are available. Current plans for a “basic” bridge would only need state and federal funds. But anything more would require local contributions. In a time where funds are becoming more tight, and political battles are becoming more heated, it is important to know that if not enough funds are available, the only thing that will be built is another four lane bridge with no transit accommodations at all.

If you missed yesterday’s meeting in St. Pete, there’s still a chance for you to provide input tomorrow; Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 5pm at the Tampa Marriott Westshore, 1001 North Westshore Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33607.

News Source:  Howard Frankland replacement plan will accommodate light rail – Tampa Bay Times – 10/8/13.

HART shatters annual ridership records a fourth straight time!

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) has done it again! Their Fiscal Year 2012/2013 (annual) ridership numbers broke records set back in FY 2011/2012, setting a fourth straight year of annual ridership increases!

Here are the numbers at a glance:

  • 14,640,375 customers used the HART system during the course of October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013. That’s a 3% increase over FY 2011/2012! In addition, bus ridership was at an all-time high this past year!
  • For the HART bus system (not including paratransit); here’s the average daily ridership figures:
    • Weekday average ridership up 7.3%

    • Saturday average ridership up 4.2%
    • Sunday average ridership up 7.7%

You can see more numbers and highlights over at HART’s Blogger Blog!

PSTA also shatters annual ridership records!

Ridership on the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) bus system also continues to rise! During the course of October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013, PSTA handled 14,457,035 rides, which was a 3% increase over FY 2011/2012!

Detailed numbers are currently not available, but I will amend this post once they do!

Source: http://www.psta.net/PDF/Ridership%209-2013.pdf

SunRail construction progresses, first locomotive train arrives!

Construction of Orlando, FL’s first commuter rail line, known as SunRail, is progressing very nicely and is on track to open sometime in 2014! Station canopies began going up at some stops during the month of September and all stations have surpassed the 50% completion milestone, with a few stations nearing 100% completion! On September 21, several railcars went on public display during a Radio Disney concert that was held in Winter Park. And on September 30, FDOT posted a photo on its District 5 Twitter Feed, showcasing the line’s first locomotive train car! It sure does look neat! 😀

If you have a moment to visit the SkyScraperCity forums, you can view a few photos of the construction progress, courtesy of Lakelander.

For more information on what SunRail is about, including maps, station locations, fares, etc.; please visit their website!

News Source: SunRail cab cars’ public unveil set for Sept. 21 – Orlando Business Journal – 9/4/13.

All Aboard Florida Intercity Rail plan chugs along!

In addition to SunRail, the All Aboard Florida Intercity Rail project, being facilitated by Florida East Coast Industries, has also reached some major milestones this past month! On October 2, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, which governs Orlando International Airport, granted approval to FECI to have an airport stop, along with a train depot just south of the airport’s property. This move paves the way for the FECI to complete the first phase of this awesome intercity rail service between Orlando and Miami by early 2016!

And if this wasn’t enough good news, Hillsborough County officials are finally beginning to take notice of All Aboard Florida and now want to make sure that the FECI considers the Tampa Bay area as a future stop for the system. While I strongly believe that it is inevitable that Jacksonville will be included on the second phase of the project, there should be a third phase that will be able to whisk trains into Tampa and eventually St. Pete as well!

News sources: All Aboard Florida to have big impact on Orlando – Orlando Business Journal – 10/2/13.

Tampa wants All Aboard Florida rails to run its way – Tampa Tribune – 10/3/13.

Other Transit-Related Headlines

This section will include a list of other transit-related news headlines and finds of the day.

Please let me know what you think? ~ HARTride 2012

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