Category Archives: Rail Service

February, 2014 Transit Roundup

During the month of February, two Tampa Bay area counties saw the introduction of two pilot transit routes that are designed to provide both residents and visitors an alternative to driving.  In Hampton Roads, VA, toll collection began on both the Downtown and Midtown Tunnels between Norfolk and Portsmouth. And in New York City, much needed post-Sandy rebuilding chugged on even as the metro area was doused in snow. These stories and more on your February, 2014 Public Transit Roundup!

For this Roundup post, I’m trying out a different format, posting news by transit district. I’m also going to be publishing most roundup posts monthly, since my schedule has been too busy to allow me to continue a weekly to bi-weekly posting schedule. I may change back to bi-weekly if time allows.

Top Stories for February, 2014

Here’s the top transit news making headlines in my website’s coverage areas.

Clearwater Jolley Trolley

On February 1, 2014, the Clearwater Jolley Trolley began a test route in Safety Harbor. This new service is aimed at getting the municipality of Safety Harbor connected to transit services. The trolley already operates in Clearwater (hence the name), Clearwater Beach, Sand Key, Tarpon Springs, and Dunedin, although service hours vary by route (the four routes comprise of Clearwater Beach, Clearwater Coastal, Tarpon Springs, and now Safety Harbor).

For now, the Safety Harbor route will run during the following times:

  • Fridays: 6pm to 12 Midnight.
  • Saturdays: 11am to 12 Midnight.
  • Sundays: 12 Noon to 6pm.

If the new route is successful, an expansion of service is very much possible! The best part about the Jolley Trolley, is that you can use you use your Jolley Trolley pass onboard Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) buses!

For further information, please visit the Jolley Trolley website. There, you can also track each trolleybus in real-time and even download their tracker app to your smartphone!

Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT)

Safety Harbor isn’t the only municipality testing out new transit routes, SCAT Transit in Sarasota is also testing out its Route 33 Limited Stop service, which also began on February 1. This route connects the popular Siesta Key Beach to Pinecraft Village and the Cattlemen Blvd Transfer Center. Services run during the midday hours Monday through Saturday, and will continue to operate until May 2, 2014 (hint, hint, this makes a great Spring Break alternative to driving). If service becomes popular enough, further expansion on the route is possible!

For further information, please visit the SCAT website. For a route map and schedules, click here.

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART)

HART's new CNG-powered Paratransit Van. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

HART’s new CNG-powered Paratransit Van. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

During its Feburary 3th Board Meeting, HART unveiled its new Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) powered Paratransit van! This new van is a part of an order of 28 CNG-fueled vans that will be arriving to Tampa later this year, and will replace aging diesel-fueled vans that are currently in service. Of the 28 vans being ordered, 8 will be distributed for HART FLEX services, while the remaining vans will be used for HART Plus Paratransit services. All of these vans will adorn the two-toned blue and white livery that HART’s buses already possess.

Hampton Roads Transit (HRT)

On February 2, 2014, automated toll collection began on the Downtown and Midtown Tunnels connecting Norfolk to Portsmouth. This move was made to help fund an expansion of the Midtown Tunnel from 2 lanes to 4, as well as fund other needed road projects in the Portsmouth area. The introduction of tolls to the two tunnels has been controversial, with many business owners fearing that the tolls will have a negative impact on their business. However, it seems that the tolls are here to stay.

As part of an agreement between HRT and Elizabeth River Tunnels, HRT began running ferry services at 5:30am on weekdays, and beginning in July, HRT will expand services on Portsmouth-bound bus routes. Both will undoubtedly provide commuters with transit options instead of having to pay tolls each way.

Meanwhile, HRT approved its proposed fare increase on February 27 (the agency’s first such increase since its inception in 1999), raising its base (one-way cash) fare from $1.50 to $2.00 (which is the same amount that HART charges for its base fare). However, the increase will be implemented in two phases, with the first to be implemented in July of this year, and the second taking effect in July of 2016. This gradual increase is designed to allow customers to adjust their budgets to the new fares. It will also reduce the risk of riders abandoning the system due to abruptly high fare hikes.

Among other changes being made to its fare structure, HRT will be eliminating the one-day LRT only pass, along with their 2-ride card. A bundle of 5 one-day Go Passes will still be available for purchase. The seasonal Virginia Beach WAVE shuttle fares will eventually be absorbed into the regular bus fares, with the exception of the 3-day Shuttle Pass, which will rise from its current $5.00 to $8.00 later this year, and then to $13.00 in July, 2016 (the reduced-fare 3-day Shuttle Pass will increase from $2.50 to $4.00 later this year, and then to $6.50 in July, 2016).

Finally, HRT held several public hearings during the month of February on studies to extend The Tide Light Rail Line to Virginia Beach and Naval Station Norfolk. Both studies are moving ahead, but face uncertainty down the road (especially the Virginia Beach extension). You can read my recent blog post about both studies here. HRT also made changes to its Paratransit eligibility process, which can be viewed here.

New York City MTA

Restoration work on the Montague subway tunnel continues and much has been achieved thus far, despite all of the snow that has fallen in the northeast. As of the end of February, major restoration work – which is needed due to the damage caused by SuperStorm Sandy in October, 2012 – has comprised of demolishing concrete walls that were damaged during the storm, as well as removing other damaged tunnel components. It’s pretty clear that not even polar vortexes can stop the MTA from doing the work it needs to do to shore up its infrastructure due to the damage that Sandy caused.

One interesting matter that has come up is…how on earth does the concrete get poured in a subway tunnel in this type of situation? The answer lies within this article from the MTA. You’d be surprised what they did! As one can imagine, the restoration of the Montague tunnel is a very complex one that requires round-the-clock work and tons of manpower. Pouring concrete to make up the new subway tunnel walls is just one intricate piece of the puzzle. The MTA cannot afford even the slightest interruption to stall the project.

Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP)

I’ve heard from several sources that the MP 05 railcars will begin to roll onto Line 14 of the Paris subway in March. These trains are being deployed onto Line 14 to help improve frequencies and to eventually prepare the line for the northward extension project towards the municipality of Saint Ouen. Initially, only a handful of these trains will roll into service, but a total of 18 trains have been ordered for the operation of the extension to Saint Ouen (originally, only 4 trains were ordered).

Now, keep in mind that the operation of the MP 05 on Line 14 will be rather short-lived. Upon completion of a simultaneous 2nd phase extension from Saint Ouen to Pleyel and a southern extension towards Orly Airport, the MP 05 (along with their predecessor railcars, the MP 89CA) will be distributed to other lines in favor of the planned MP 14 railcars. The MP 14 will comprise of 8-car trains being deployed to Line 14, 6-car trains being deployed to Line 4, and 5-car trains being deployed to Line 6*.

It’s very likely that both the MP 89CA and the MP 05 from Line 14 will either land on Line 1 or Line 4. Line 4 is slated for an automation conversion beginning later this year and is projected for completion by 2020. The Line 14 extension to Saint Ouen is also slated for completion by 2020, with the second extensions to be done by 2025. At that point, Line 14 will become fully immersed into the planned Grand Paris Express regional subway system, which comprises of four new subway lines.

*Railcar assignments are nowhere near final. The RATP is working with the regional STIF to determine what is the best course for the subway rolling stock.

Other Transit-Related Stories

A CLOSER LOOK AT: MANAGED LANES

Ever wondered how far those managed toll lanes are really going for you? Here’s two views on the matter.

Other Finds for the Month

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Pirates and Football and Transit Oh My!

January Roundup 3

The month of January always brings forth two major events, one of which is specific to the Tampa Bay Area. The first event, coming up tomorrow – Saturday, January 25, 2013, is the Gasparilla Pirate Fest! This parade features a cast of swashbuckling characters who throw beads off vehicular floats. Hundreds of revelers flock to Tampa’s Bayshore Blvd each year to take part in the festivities! The Gasparilla parade goes all the way back to 1904!

The second event that I want to highlight is Super Bowl XLVIII, which will be  held Sunday, February 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. This annual sporting event brings thousands of spectators together, whether at the stadium, at sports bars, or even at home! What’s different about this year’s Super Bowl, is that the states of New York and New Jersey are sharing hosting duties, which means a HUGE collaboration when it comes to transit, and getting fans around quickly. I’ll highlight in a moment about what is being done to make this year’s Super Bowl a hassle-free one on the roads and tracks.

2014 Gasparilla Pirate Fest

Let me first go through as to what to expect for Gasparilla tomorrow. You can expect tons of road closures in around Bayshore Blvd, as well as parts of Downtown Tampa. This means that you’ll have to access Downtown from the northwest (via Cass St) if you’re travelling from South Tampa. The entire stretch of Bayshore Blvd will be closed beginning this evening at 10:00pm in order to ensure that final preparations for tomorrow’s parade are able to take place. The Platt and Brorien St bridges will close during the overnight hours, along with numerous other streets in the surrounding area. Davis Island access will be maintained throughout the day Saturday, but the on/off-ramps to/from Bayshore will be closed.

Let me stress one thing; if you don’t need to be in Downtown Tampa on Saturday the 25th, then please don’t go to Downtown!

Once the parade ends, floats will disembark in a designated zone in Downtown Tampa, so many Downtown streets will be closed during the day. Additionally, many parking lots will be utilized for Gasparilla parking, which will cause further congestion along Downtown streets. If you do plan to park in Downtown, Hyde Park, or any other designated parking lot for the Gasparilla parade, please be sure to bring cash for parking fees. Also, please be aware that the City of Tampa prohibits parking on some streets.

For a full listing of street closures during the Gasparilla parade, click here.

Avoid Parking Hassles! Use HART!

Select HART bus routes and the TECOline Streetcar Line will operate on a modified schedule on Saturday, and some bus routes will be detoured due to road closures. I’ll go through a brief rundown of what to expect if you’re using transit to get to and from the parade. For detailed information, please visit the HART website.

Routes 7, 8, 14, 19, & 30 will be detoured! Please plan your trip accordingly!

  • Routes 7 & 14 will detour via Palm Ave and WILL NOT SERVE CASS ST.
  • Route 8 will be detoured via Nuccio Pkwy & Cass St. The normal route through Channelside and southern Downtown WILL NOT BE SERVED.
  • Routes 19 & 30 will be detoured via I-275. The Platt/Cleveland/Brorien/Davis Island segments of Route 19 & the Kennedy Blvd segment east of Armenia/Howard WILL NOT BE SERVED.
    • Please make alternate arrangements if you are needing to get to/from Tampa General Hospital. I HAVE NOT HEARD ANYTHING ABOUT ANY SPECIAL SHUTTLE SERVICES BEING PROVIDED TO/FROM TAMPA GENERAL. SO I HAVE TO ASSUME THAT THERE WILL BE NO SUCH SHUTTLE ARRANGEMENTS THIS YEAR.
  • The TECOline Streetcar will run a modified schedule and will only serve selected stations during selected times of the day. However, the Dick Greco Plaza, Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union, and Centennial Park stations will be served all day. The Whiting station will be CLOSED all day.
  • Feeder bus shuttles will pick up passengers at Dick Greco Plaza, Cumberland Ave, Cadrecha Plaza, and Streetcar Society stations to help get customers between various parking venues and the parade route.
  • The In-Town Trolleybus will offer service from Dick Greco Plaza to the Marion Transit Center to allow for speedy travel between northern Downtown and the parade route.

For a map describing the above transit services for Gasparilla, click here. For maps describing route detours for Routes 7, 8, 14, 19, & 30, click here. You can also get more information from HART’s recent blog postIf you reside in the Town-N-Country area, you can park your car at the Northwest Transfer Center and use Route 30 to connect to the Gasparilla festivities!

NEW TO HART?

If you answered “YES”, I invite you to watch this neat video that HART put together through City of Tampa Television! HART partnered with members of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla to show everyone how to use the HART bus system! Remember…safety first! I don’t want to see anyone walk the plank!

Click here to view HART’s FAQ Page!

Super Bowl XLVIII

During the weekend of February 1 & 2, the MTA of New York & New Jersey Transit (aka NJ Transit) will be working together to provide optimal transit services for Super Bowl XLVIII. Both agencies will have modified bus and rail services throughout the weekend, and special feeder bus shuttles to and from MetLife Stadium-bound rail stations will also be available.

In fact, due to security concerns, private vehicles will be prohibited from entering the stadium perimeter during the Super Bowl (unless pre-approved arrangements have been made), so NJTransit’s rail line from Secaucus Junction and pre-arranged hotel buses will be the only allowable modes of transport to and from MetLife Stadium on game day. ONLY CUSTOMERS WITH SUPER BOWL GAME DAY TICKETS WILL BE ALLOWED TO BOARD STADIUM-BOUND TRAINS AT SECAUCUS JUNCTION.

Because of the huge collaboration between NJ Transit and the MTA, a neat transit map has been put together showing connecting surface rail and subway lines throughout the metro area.

For further information about getting around via transit on Super Bowl Weekend, click here.

Tampa Bay Area Transit Ridership for December, 2013 shatters records!

To close out 2013, both HART and PSTA once again saw record-shattering bus ridership! HART saw 1,204,729 rides in December, 2013, a 7% increase over December, 2012. PSTA saw 1,164,858 rides in December, 2013, a 3.2% increase over December, 2012. Both districts have seen modest gains in daily ridership figures as well, with HART’s MetroRapid and PSTA’s Connector services continuing to lead the way! USF’s transit agreement with HART is also playing a major role, with nearly 230,000 students and faculty members using the HART bus system since July, 2013!

Sources: HART, PSTA.

Public Transit Roundup for Late November/Early December, 2013

For this Roundup, I’ve included headlines from the Thanksgiving holiday through December 14. Some of the highlights include Greenlight Pinellas and a proposed revision to the transportation funding formula in the state of Virginia. So let’s get to the news!

Service Change Alerts

The Hernando Express Bus [(a.k.a. THEbus or Hernando THEbus) Hernando County, FL]: Due to roadway construction along State Road 50, west of the Suncoast Parkway, the Grove Road and Barclay Avenue stops will NOT BE SERVED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE! Buses will instead pull into Brookridge Blvd, and then into the parking lot adjacent to SR 50 at Pinebrook. Click here for the press release (posted on THEbus homepage).

Christmas/New Year’s Holiday Transit Schedules

Many transit districts will have limited to no service on Christmas Day (Wednesday, December 25) and on New Year’s Day (Wednesday, January 1, 2014). Additionally, some districts may have limited service on Christmas Eve (Tuesday, December 24) and modified service on New Year’s Eve (Tuesday, December 31). Please visit my blog post for information pertaining to HART, PSTA, MCAT, SCAT, PCPT, LYNX, HRT, and several other districts throughout Central Florida and beyond.

Top Stories for late November/early December, 2013

Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

Greenlight Pinellas makes it to the November, 2014 ballot!

The Greenlight Pinellas initiative reached a major milestone on Tuesday, December 10, 2013, when the Pinellas County Commission voted 6 to 1 to put the Greenlight Pinellas referendum question on the November, 2014 ballot! This move paves the way for Greenlight Pinellas to focus on rounding up additional support for the November, 2014 vote, as well as keeping existing support strong.

Greenlight Pinellas is a comprehensive transportation expansion plan that would eliminate the property tax as the main source of funding for public transit in Pinellas County and replace it with a one percent sales tax. The plan also includes various bus service improvements, lays out the groundwork for future passenger rail services, and will also assist in roadway and pedestrian facility improvements.

During the next several months, you can expect to see more people come out in support of the Greenlight Pinellas initiative, as well as those who are opposed to it. We need to make sure that those in support of Greenlight Pinellas are able to keep the voice of the opposition from drowning out voter sentiment. As many here in the Tampa Bay area very well know, a similar effort by Hillsborough County failed in 2010 as a result of a combination of poor planning and various political battles. Additionally, funding for Florida’s High Speed Rail plan were declined in 2011, effectively killing the project. We simply cannot afford a repeat of 2010! We must continue to push for better transit options!

Without dedicated funding avenues via the passage of such referendums, both the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) and Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) stand to lose a lot in 2015. In fact, I strongly predict that both districts will be forced to drastically slash service and substantially raise fares across the board within two to three years. That will eventually lead to ridership levels plummeting because there won’t be enough service to get customers to and from, and fares will be far too high for customers to be able to afford. Imagine if a one-way bus ride costed $5.00? Imagine if most bus routes only ran hourly service from 6am until 6pm with no weekend or holiday services? Imagine dozens of routes being eliminated all in one swath? These could very well play out to be the ultimate “doomsday” scenario if things really go south with transit funding.

Later this month, I will have a blog post up that highlights the successes of the Greenlight Pinellas plan thus far and what challenges remain ahead for the new year.

Sources: PSTA Blog, Tampa Bay Business Journal – 12/11/13.

HART moves along with its new Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueling station!

Substantial progress is being made on the construction of HART’s new CNG fueling station at its 21st Ave HQ! In late November, the CNG fueling units were installed at HART’s HQ and plans for an initial fleet of CNG-powered Paratransit vans are slated to arrive sometime in early 2014!  HART’s 1st goal is to transition its Paratransit van fleet to CNG-powered vehicles. Once this is achieved, HART will then move to transition its bus fleet to CNG.

Source: HART

The CTA "Holiday Train". Photo Credit: Chicago CTA.

The CTA “Holiday Train”. Photo Credit: Chicago CTA.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) “Holiday Train” rolls again!

For the 21st year in a row, the CTA has rolled out its decorated “Holiday Train” to help spread holiday cheer throughout the Chicago elevated rail system! This six-car train is adorned with Christmas lights both inside and outside of the train, as well as Christmas themed seating cushions, candy cane styled pole wrappers, and even a special flatbed car for Santa and his sleigh!

To see where the holiday train will be heading to next, click here. To view photos of the train, click here. The final “Holiday Train” appearance for 2013 will be on Monday, December 23, along the CTA Yellow Line.

Source: Chicago CTA.

New transportation funding formula in Virginia aims to improve a dire situation for Hampton Roads Transit (HRT).

Plans for a revised transportation funding formula in the state of Virginia may benefit HRT in the sense that it would have more funds available to keep its bus fleet up to date. Without any dedicated funding source, HRT faces the same problem that HART and PSTA face, which is aging buses. The average age of HRT’s bus fleet is currently nine years, which is relatively poor for any transit district. However, current funding constraints don’t allow HRT to purchase very many new buses, let alone maintain its current fleet.

If the new formula is approved, it would divide transit funding into three tiers, making it easier for transit districts to receive funding for maintaining and expanding bus fleets.

Source: Hampton Roads Daily Press.

A CALL TO ACTION! Transit tax benefits to be significantly reduced in 2014 unless Congress acts!

In the news quite a bit during the course of late November/early December is a call to Congress in Washington to extend current transit tax benefits, which is set at $245 per month. A provisional change in this benefit set up in 2009 will expire at midnight on January 1, 2014 unless Congress acts to extend current levels. An expiration would mean that the transit tax benefit will plummet to to $130 per month. Furthermore, there are fears that as part of a broader tax reform deal still to come, that the transit tax benefit could be eliminated altogether. At that latter rate, Congress may as well wage an all out war against transit because many in Washington want to plow through the Vehicle Miles Traveled (or VMT) tax to replace the faltering gas tax.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE! Contact your legislator in Washington, D.C. and tell him or her to extend transit tax benefits!

Source: Forbes Magazine. VMT snippett: The Hill Blog.

Other Transit-Related Headlines

STUFF A BUS 2013!

2008's "Stuff A Bus" event in Tampa. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

2008’s “Stuff A Bus” event in Tampa. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

HART and 93.3 FM teamed up again this year for the station’s annual “Stuff A Bus” event to help out the US Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program. The toy drive ran during the week of December 9, and from what I heard on the radio Saturday afternoon, eight…YES…EIGHT HART buses were filled up with toys to help children in need of that special gift for Christmas! It’s always an awesome thing for HART to lend some of its buses for this wonderful event each year!

YEAR-END PUBLIC TRANSIT ROUNDUP!

2013 In Review

YE2013RU

For my final Roundup posts for 2013, I will be presenting to you, the 2013 Year-End Public Transit Roundup! Not only am I going to be posting this year’s edition here on my Roundup Blog, but I’m also going to split this post into two episodes. The first episode will be dedicated to all transit happenings throughout the Tampa Bay Area, as well as Hampton Roads, Chicago, IL, and Paris, France. The second episode will be solely dedicated to New York City; from SuperStorm Sandy Recovery, to the debut of the R-188 railcars, I will go over what New York’s transit system has done during the past year.

I plan on publishing this, as well as my year-end blog stats by December 31!

As always, if you’d like to leave feedback about my transit roundups, please do so via the Contact Page.

Have a great week!

HARTride 2012

Public Transit Roundup for November 18, 2013

In this week’s roundup, Greenlight Pinellas moves another step closer to hitting the November, 2014 ballot! Let’s take a look at the headlines!

Service Change Alerts

Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) has enacted its service changes for 1, 2, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 20, 23, and 58 in the Southside region (Norfolk, VA Beach, Portsmouth, Chesapeake) today (November 24, 2013). Please visit my blog post to see what the changes are about! For updated schedules, please visit HRT’s website at www.gohrt.com.

Thanksgiving Holiday Transit Services/Schedules

Many transit districts will have limited to no service on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 28) and on Black Friday (Friday, November 29). Please visit my blog post for information pertaining to HART, PSTA, MCAT, SCAT, PCPT, LYNX, HRT, and several other districts throughout Central Florida and beyond.

Top Stories for the week of November 18, 2013

Greenlight Pinellas takes another leap forward!

This past week, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) board took a major step on November 20 by formally endorsing the Greenlight Pinellas plan. Greenlight Pinellas is a comprehensive transportation expansion plan that would eliminate the property tax as the main source of funding for public transit in Pinellas County and replace it with a one percent sales tax. The plan also includes various bus service improvements, lays out the groundwork for future passenger rail services, and will also assist in roadway and pedestrian facility improvements.

Among other highlights of last week’s developments, changes in the draft ballot language were made to clarify what voters would be asked to vote for next year. The phrase “light rail” was replaced with “passenger rail”, which expands rail discussion to possible commuter rail connections with other areas such as Tampa and the northern counties.

I will have a blog post up in December that highlights the successes of the Greenlight Pinellas plan thus far and what challenges remain ahead for the new year.

Sources: PSTA Blog, Tampa Bay Times – 11/20/13.

Feasibility studies launch for an eastward extension of the Paris subway Line 10.

For a while now, it has been highly speculated that the Line 10 of the Paris Metro will one day be extended beyond its current eastern terminus at the Gare d’Austerlitz railway station. The STIF has voted to begin feasibility studies to extend the Line 10 to the municipality of Ivry-sur-Seine, with a possible second extension towards Vitry-sur-Seine.

Source: Région Île-de-France (In French) – 11/20/13.

Other Transit-Related Headlines

As always, if you’d like to leave feedback about my transit roundups, please do so via the Contact Page.

Have a great week!

HARTride 2012

Public Transit Roundup for November 11, 2013

In this week’s transit roundup post, I’ll be highlighting some new ridership records and a new LRT line! It’s going to be an awesome ride, so hang on tight! 🙂

HART_2202

Service Change Alerts

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) has enacted its service changes for Routes 2, 4, 5, 6, 12, 14, 30, 37, 47LX, and 57 today (November 17, 2013). Please visit my blog post to see what the changes are about! For updated schedules, please visit HART’s website at www.goHART.org.

Top Stories for the week of November 11, 2013

HART and PSTA shatter ridership records for October! HRT October ridership also strong!

The drums don’t stop beating for both Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) as they continue to shatter ridership records! Here’s October’s ridership numbers at a glance! Notice how I also included October’s numbers for Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) in the graphic.

HART-PSTA ridership Oct 2013

So let’s break the figures down for HART and PSTA.

  • 1,359,764 passengers rode the HART bus system during the month of October, 2013! An increase of about 1.8% over October, 2012.
    • HART’s MetroRapid service saw 55,010 riders during the month of October, 2013. Average daily ridership is now at 2,392, which is an increase of 4.7% over September, 2013. Overall MetroRapid ridership has increased by 25.8% since the start of revenue service in July, 2013.
  • 1,278,051 passengers rode the PSTA bus system during the month of October, 2013! Just shy of October, 2012’s all-time record.
    • PSTA attributes the slight decrease in ridership to the closure of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium during the month of October due to filming of Dolphin Tale 2.
  • 1,338,871  passengers rode the HRT bus system in Norfolk during the month of October, 2013. Comparison figures are currently unavailable.

Sources: HART, PSTA, HRT. Please note that the overall ridership figures only include fixed bus routes. Paratransit, Rail, and Ferry services are not included in these numbers.

Polk County transit districts provide FREE rides to high school students!

I usually don’t discuss about the public transit districts in Polk County, FL, which comprise of the municipalities of Lakeland, Winter Haven, Mulberry, and several other smaller towns. However, a new pilot program involving public transit is making things just a bit easier for high school students!

This new program, called COLT, and it is designed to get high school students to after school programs. Parents sign permission slips to allow their child to use the program, then Winter Haven Area Transit and the Citrus Connection send buses to various schools throughout the county to pick up students. The buses can transport students to almost every municipality within Polk County.

This program is the first of its kind in the state of Florida, according to Citrus Connection.

Source: Bay News 9.

Virginia Beach to examine three private proposals to extend The Tide LRT to the Oceanfront.

DSCN0364

The city of Virginia Beach voted on 11/12 to further review three private proposals to link the Virginia Beach Oceanfront with a rail connection. Two proposals comprise of extending the existing LRT line and the third comprises of a maglev rail line. That third proposal I’m not too thrilled with because it would require passengers to make an unnecessary transfer.

Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) meanwhile is continuing its own publicly-funded study to lay out options to extend LRT to the Oceanfront. Further findings of their study will be released sometime in early 2014.

Source: Virginian Pilot – 11/13/13.

30 squats for a subway ride? Count me in!

In lieu of the 2014 Winter Olympics, the Moscow (Russia) subway system is trying out a unique way of getting passengers onboard, as well as in shape…at the same time! Instead of paying a cash fare, riders are encouraged to step in front of a special machine and perform 30 squats. If the routine is done correctly, the passenger will be provided with a subway ticket. This fun option will be in place throughout the month of November!

Source:  CBS News – 11/8/13.

Paris’ LRT Line 7 opens to passengers!

T7

The city of lights has literally doubled its light rail capacity in the last year!

In fact, Paris’s light rail system grew from having four lines (Lines 1 and 2, the initial Line 3, and Line 4), 41.5 km of track, and 70 stations to six lines (including the Line 3 extension, and new Lines 5 and 7) 82.3 km of track, and 145 stations! And guess what? That’s only a sign of things still to come! Two more LRT lines are under construction (Lines 6 and 8) and several others are being planned.

The newest addition to Paris’ LRT system is Line 7, which opened to passengers on November 16, 2013! It provides for 11.2 km of track, connecting the municipalities of Villejuif (via the Villejuif – Louis Aragon bus and subway station) and Athis-Mons via the Orly Airport. A planned second phase will bring the line to the municipality of Juvisy by 2018/2019, which is home to a major commuter rail station.

I’ll have a complete blog post on the opening of LRT Line 7 and other Parisian transport developments later this month and through December!

Other Transit-Related Headlines

Other finds for the week

  • Good Grief! First Texas, now Florida? Read about how two Florida lawmakers want to increase the max speed limit from 70 to 75. Texas has already increased its max speed limit to 75 on many interstates and even 85 on some roads. Sources: Fox 13 Tampa Bay (FL story), KTRE Ch 9 News, and USA Today (TX stories)

Please help those affected by Typhoon Haiyan

As many of you know, the Philippines (which is my home country) was struck by Typhoon Haiyan (also known in the Philippines as Yolanda) on November 9, 2013. The storm is one of the most powerful and destructive hurricanes on record and is worse than even the destruction of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans in 2005.

On November 13, 2013, I published a special blog post, asking everyone who visits my site to please take a moment to make a donation to one of charities that are assisting with reilef efforts. If you have not done so already, please consider making a donation! Your contribution will make a HUGE difference! Thank you!

Veterans Day 2013

Be sure to read up on my special blog post that is dedicated to all those who have served (and those currently serving) in the US military! I published this post on Veterans Day, November 11, 2013.

PURE AWESOMENESS aboard the US Navy guided missile destroyer, the USS Ramage (DDG61)!  Congrats to LTJG Jamison R. Fiebrandt (whom I know personally) on earning his Surface Warfare Officer pin! Photo Credit: US Navy.

PURE AWESOMENESS aboard the US Navy guided missile destroyer, the USS Ramage (DDG61)!
Congrats to LTJG Jamison R. Fiebrandt (whom I know personally) on earning his Surface Warfare Officer pin! Photo Credit: US Navy.

As always, if you’d like to leave feedback about my transit roundups, please do so via the Contact Page.

Have a great week!

HARTride 2012

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