Friday, June 22, 2012

Commissioner Takes to Twitter for Dump the Pump Ride

Considering HART provides more than 50,000 bus trips every weekday, every day is Dump the Pump Day for thousands in Hillsborough County. But for those who haven’t tried transit, a day is set aside every year to raise awareness about how easy it is to keep more money in your pocket and away from the pump:  “National Dump the Pump Day.”

Transit agencies across the country took on activities to promote Dump the Pump – discounted fares, giveaways, social media promotions, the list goes on.

But what better way to highlight Dump the Pump Day than highlighting a real-life pump dumper:  Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe. 

National Dump the Pump Day - everyone is encouraged to take transit for the day. I am at stop 1859 – sweating

Commissioner Mark Sharpe tweeted his ride for Dump the Pump
I met up with Commissioner Sharpe on Kennedy Boulevard to pick up Route 30, going westbound towards Tampa International Airport.
Commissioner Sharpe is familiar with Route 30, but today’s ride was different – it was in honor of Dump the Pump Day – so it deserved extra attention.
“We’re going to have fun with this,” he said to me.
Little did I know that meant a Twitter play-by-play!

Riding the 1001 east on Kennedy – every seat is taken and its ice cold inside

It’s true. Annual ridership on Route 30 is about 800,000.

We sat next to a young adult who moved from Connecticut just five days ago to take a job in downtown Tampa. He takes the Route 30 every day from Memorial Highway into Downtown Tampa, and hadn’t even thought about getting a car just yet. Transit was his first option.

Attracting young workers to this area caught Commissioner Sharpe’s attention. In fact, he showed me the book he was currently reading:  The New Geography of Jobs, by Enrico Moretti.
“Transit will drive the new economy,” he said. “Young workers will use it as a safe way to get to work because they don’t have to deal with insurance and paying high gas prices.”

Waiting at the next stop w/ HART's superb PIO - I am very impressed - but also dishing out grief. Why can't I track my bus w/phone app now?

It’s not soon enough for Commissioner Sharpe – or our customers -- but HART is testing real-time bus schedule technology
Qt #2: why can't I use my debit card to pay? I thought bond defeasance was complicated - try multiple stops & paying w/quarters

Good news is that MetroRapid North-South – opening early next year – will feature ticket vending machines at major station stops and they accept debit cards. This type of off-board fare collection means not having to wait behind riders paying with quarters

Riding #2411 (which I CAN'T track by gps). HART's impressive & patient PIO explaining the "open container" policy. See bond defeasment

Florida is hot and we get thirsty. We understand. But anything you can do to avoid spills -- especially spills on someone else -- that would be great! 

Heading downtown from airport. Watched guy pay apparently using pennies - way too slow. Need off board payments/debit card/pay by phone app
Passing @BuddyBrewCoffee on HART #2411 - sure would like a cup of coffee on this trip. Can't remember bus drinking policy, looking for rules
Almost downtown - making great time - even with the 60 to 70 stops (average).

Not that we stopped at every one of those stops along Route 30, but with increased ridership, HART drivers are overall stopping at more stops these days. On some of our busier runs, drivers are stopping at two-thirds of all stops along a route. So now, we’re asking for a little help from our customers on faster boarding and exiting to help keep everyone’s trip pleasant and buses running on time:  Ride HART. Be Smart
Downtown - while others text while driving in their cars - I am safely twittering while riding the bus. HART means safe twittering -
Downtown has plenty of solar pay stations for parking - HART should explore same for our busier stops
Made it to County Center in record time. Just a short walk from stop to my office. Still no coffee

All downtown workers can ride HART to work. HART operates nine express routes that serve as money-saving options for our downtown Tampa workers who have long commutes (or short ones too!) These express routes travel along Marion Transit Parkway, and if that’s not a close walk to your office, the In-Town Trolley operates as a circulator every weekday 6 – 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 – 6 p.m. It serves stops in Harbor Island, along Tampa Street and Florida Avenue every 15 minutes. Pay with your monthly bus pass or with a quarter.

I had a little further to go, so Commissioner Sharpe and I parted ways. But he didn’t depart from twitter when he picked up the bus again later that afternoon to go home for the day:

Back to Bus for "quick" ride home. Eager to see if bus is on time.
Standing at the City Hall Station waiting for the #30. Looking at color coded map that makes hieroglyphics seem simple. Who made the maps?
Bus on time and full - so much for no-one rides the bus argument. Sitting next to guy who sells Epoch on Kennedy. Everyone takes bus to work
At stop 5203 rider puts bike (aka bug screen) on front of bus. Gets on before light changes - impressive
2 motorized riders getting on the bus at stop 10086. Takes only a few minutes for driver to get them on. The passengers respond w/courtesy
Standing room only now - 40 plus riders - stopping on Kennedy as cars fly past (chugging foreign oil). HART will soon use American made CNG
Near my stop. Suppose to "pull cord" before / not after I want to get off. Sounds easy - unless you’re a politician
Made my stop - even missing rain shower seconds before drenching downpour. HART gets me home safe & dry.

Commissioner Sharpe received a lot of Facebook and Twitter following and feedback during his bus ride, so I have a feeling it’ll be less than a year before the next “Tweet and Ride”!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments to this blog are moderated by HART staff. Constructive comments are welcome; any obscene, threatening, or otherwise inappropriate comments will be deleted before posting. Questions about specific service ("is my bus on time?") cannot be answered here, and should be directed to the HARTinfo Line at (813) 254-HART (4278). General questions may be addressed in future posts.