Thank you to our HART customers who attended the public hearing on Wednesday, which is required as part of the application HART filed for federal funding.
We received some comments during the hearing that we would like to address.
Bikes on Buses
For instance, a comment was made about bicycle racks on the bus. The front of each bus comes equipped with racks for two bicycles, and if the rack is full, customers must be prepared to wait for the next bus or choose a safe location to lock up their bicycle. This is not new, but the increased use of these bicycle racks means more customers may be waiting for the next bus.
HART has previously tested racks that have room for three bicycles. However, this was considered a safety hazard because it increased the length of the bus and limited its turn radius. HART drivers already manage some tight turns throughout Hillsborough County’s 1,100 square miles, and bus routes are carefully planned to make sure all turns on a route allow for a safe turning radius.
But, there is a silver lining! In November 2011, bicycle racks were installed on all HARTFlex vans and folding bicycles are now permitted on all buses and HARTFlex vans. Lastly, MetroRapid North-South will open to the public in early 2013, and medium and large MetroRapid stations will feature bicycle racks so customers have a safe and convenient place to lock up their bicycles.
Some other questions were asked about Route 15, a popular route that saw 16 percent growth in 2011 compared to the previous year. Some customers present at the meeting suggested removing the International Plaza stop on Route 15 to add more time to the route. However, keep in mind that ridership numbers indicate that this stop is among our top 5 percent in bus stop activity (pick-ups and drop-offs).
Other residents had questions about what factors are considered to remove, relocate or add bus stops. HART has a program in place to make a route-by-route assessment of all bus stops to make sure they meet, most importantly, ADA standards, as well as spacing standards to help maximize the efficiency of bus schedules. HART also considers the unique circumstances of each site, including convenience of passenger transfers to other routes, open and visible spaces for personal security and passenger visibility, protected crossings at signalized or stop-controlled intersections, among others. Bus stops are usually spaced about 750-1,250 feet apart.
Because of this bus stop improvement program, in FY2010, 113 shelters were installed and 79 bus stops were upgraded; in FY2011, 50 shelters were installed and 218 bus stops were upgraded. More shelters are planned for installation over the next year, including for Routes 6, 34 and 39. This is good news for HART customers who seek protection from the sometimes harsh weather elements of this area.
Have any questions that you want answered? Leave them in the comments section below and we'll get on them. If it's a common question, we'll probably address in a blog post like this!