Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mass Transit

Regarding a comment about mass transit made in a prior post.

Has anyone ever ridden HART? I did so for several weeks while my vehicle had issues. Interesting experience.

I am only 1-1/2 blocks to the #2 line (Nebraska Avenue). this is fortunate because #2 has a lot of buses running frequently on it. This cuts the wait time. This bus took me downtown where I had to switch buses to get to Davis Islands. The next bus dropped me off at TGH and I walked over to my office. Short walk.

Depending on my timing, coming to work I switch bus at one of two locations. The overpass by the Health Department. Although not well lit, I shielded me from the weather. However my timing had to be right to use that. If things worked right, I had a very short wait. 2 to 3 minutes. Else I had to wait 15 minutes father down Kennedy. I got off at Marion Street and crossed the Street to wait on Northside of Kennedy. The big problem there was being exposed to weather. The Marion Street stops all had shelters, but there were none on Kennedy. Why the downtown area does not have shelters down Kennedy is a mystery.

Frankly all of the bus routes need more shelters, especially at cross bus lines. We need shelters at Nebraska and Hillsborough and Nebraska and MLK. Or more buildings need awnings for people to stand under. The Florida School for Arts was nice as a stop because they had an awning. Not anymore.

One of the things I like is the bike racks. I was tempted to use my bike and cut the wait for the second bus by riding the rest of the way. But I am too out of shape. If I worked downtown where i did not have to switch buses, I could see taking the bus everyday.

We need better bus services and mass transit. We need more bike friendly routes.


Mal Carne said...

I used to live in Portland, OR, which is probably the most alternative trasportation friendly city in the US. Besides a huge number of bus routes, almost every major street had a bike lane and then there was light rail.
The light rail spent several years as kinda useless, just moving people through the east side of town, but it expanded to the west side and out of town to the Intel plant about 15 miles out.
The impact on traffic was huge. Ridership went up by a couple thousand a day. Think about how many cars that took off the road. If we were to implement something that went from USF to downtown to Westshore/the airport and then linked with something from Pinellas, the impact would be quite similar.
The true problem lies in the car culture. We all like our cars and look at public transportation as something for the unwashed masses. But if there were reliable, convenient public transportation, I can see that attitude changing. The quandry lies in what comes first, the chicken or the egg. Ridership needs to increase to justify expansion, but without expansion ridership won't increase.
So, what do we do?

Anonymous said...

I have some issues with the bus stops on Nebraska Ave. In my neck of the woods, there is a stop on every single block. Each one. You could probably increase traffic flow on Nebraska by cutting that in half. The worst traffic jams on Nebraska are in the mornings in the South-bound lane where the city brain-farted and stuck a bus stop right at the Nebraska/Hillsborough intersection. The bus stops there for a minute or so during my morning commute and makes right-hand turns onto Hillsborough (and access to I-275) impossible. The resulting backup often extends to and sometimes past Powhatan ave. Solution: place the stop one block back and give cars the room to maneuver around the bus. (See the covered bus stop on the East side of Nebraska for a great example of what's right.)

As for using busses as public transportation... it's easy to scoff at those of us that refuse to use them and label us as classists. However, in my case, taking the bus will add over an hour to my 10 mile commute (three busses needed). The price of gas needs to be over $10/gallon to be worth that amount of lost time. I agree that working downtown would make the bus a worthy contender as long as I could avoid traveling during the afternoon rains.

Rail vs Roads. Adding a lane to a freeway reduces congestion by less than 11%. That's it. 100s of millions of dollars, torn out homes, bisected neighborhoods, and we get a whopping 11% improvement. That is, until the developers realize that cheap land further out is a bit more accessable, build a few thousand master-planned homes, and swallow up that 11% and more in the process. (And drive more tax revenue OUT of the city and out of Hillsborough county.) For a great look at what loops, and loops around loops can do for a city, just see Atlanta.

So rail...

Before you scoff at the Trolley (as slow and overly quaint it may be) have a look at one of the first and most successful light rail system in the USA--San Diego, California. Guess what they use? Yup... same train that our Trolley is based on. Amazing and hardly believable, right? It started just doing Trolley runs in Old Town San Diego for tourists, then made a run for the border (again for tourists) and now serves to connect the various suburbs to Downtown. It can go FAST. It can connect many cars together to handle increased load. It's quiet. Or, we could take a cue from Las Vegas or Orlando and install raised monorail (cheaper right-of-way purchases). Either way, we need to connect Downtown to park-and-ride facilities in Westchase, Brandon, Citrus Park, and other suburban areas. Buses should be limited to end-of-route travel, not cross-town commuting.

IFly said...

There is a very good blog about the light rail issue here in the Bay area, it also covers other Transit issues occasionally.

Tampa Rail

Anonymous said...

As a long time bus rider, I just wanted to give a heads up to Scott that you have to have a special permit to use the bike rack on the bus. At least that's how it use to be a couple years ago, which I always thought was silly. Not sure if that rule is still in place.