Transit eNews of the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization and its Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board (TDCB)


Issue 1 / June 2011

What's In This Issue :

HART Flex Service
Sunshine Line Helps Vets
TBARTA Vanpool
Hurricane Evacuation
New Freedom Riders
Becki Forsell's Trip
Legislators On The Bus
HART MetroRapid
RedCoach Adds Service
HART 10 Year Plan
TBARTA Corridor Studies


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New HART Flex Programs In Service



HART Flex is an on-demand, door-to-door van-based service open to all passengers. It has the modest fare of a traditional fixed bus route with the convenience of stopping at your door, on request.
Programs kicked off in Brandon and South Hillsborough County (Wimauma / Sun City Center) on April 12th, 2010. Three additional routes are scheduled to open in Town N County, Northdale and South Tampa on July 11, 2011.
South County Flex operates a regular route from which the van will deviate up to mile on request. Regular stops are at major destinations such as La Estancia Apartments, Kings Point, and the Southshore Regional Service Center.
Brandon Mall Flex is based at Westfield Brandon Shopping Mal. The van will go anywhere within the area bounded by Oakfield Drive to the north, John Moore Road to the east, Bloomingdale Avenue to the south, and Providence Road to the west.
The Town N County Flex will be based at HART's Northwest Transit Center near the intersection of Sheldon and Waters, and will serve the surrounding area. It will run hourly, Monday through Friday, 5:15 AM - 7:00 PM. 


View HART's Flex website for more information:
Trip Reservations: Call 813-449-4555 anytime between 6am - 7pm Monday - Friday; 8am - 5pm on Saturday.




Sunshine Line Helps Homeless Vets



Hillsborough County's Sunshine Line has partnered with the local Office of Veterans Affairs to provide the transportation component for the "Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program," a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. The primary purpose of this program is to remove the barriers that may exist for homeless veterans to obtain and maintain gainful employment. This goal is met through intensive and directed case management activities. Participants must be unemployed or under-employed to receive services.

Transportation is available for all work-related missions including case management, resume and application assistance, job matching and job retention services. Availability of transportation to employment has been a critical factor and common denominator in all of the success stories.


For more information and to contact the Sunshine Line directly call 813-272-7272.




Growing Vanpool Program Offers Cost Savings To Commuters

TBARTA Vanpool


TBARTA Commuter Vanpool (previously Bay Area Vanpool) is a program offered by Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA), the regional commuter assistance program agency for West Central Florida covering Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties. The vanpool program offers lower cost vans for lease, and helps potential carpoolers and vanpoolers meet each other with an on-line matching database.


Right now, vanpooling in Tampa Bay is saving approximately 27,000 gallons of fuel and preventing the emission of 10 tons of carbon monoxide per month. The vanpool program has continued its course of growth over the last year, growing by ten vanpools (20%) in 2010 to finish the year at 77 vans.  In the first four months of 2011, four more have been added. Currently, there are approximately 565 participants.


For more information about the vanpool program:


To sign up for vanpool (or other services):




Hurricane Evacuation By Transit

Hurricane Evacuation


During a hurricane evacuation, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority buses run special evacuation routes for people who need transportation to shelters. These routes are provided to assist people who have no other options for getting to safety, and should be considered only as a last resort. HART and the Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management urge you to make arrangements now for the safety of your family should a storm force you from your home. Visit HART's Hurricane Evacuation site for more info.


Persons with disablities, including those who are vision-impaired, deaf or hard of hearing, developmentally disabled, or those who need assistance with daily life activities, should submit a Special Needs Application for special assistance or transportation during an emergency, or to evacuate to one of Hillsborough County's Special Needs Shelters. Hillsborough Sunshine Line will assist with evacuations. A Special Needs Application can also be completed via telephone by calling Hillsborough's Infoline at 813-272-5900. Service animals are accepted at all Special Needs and Red Cross Shelters.




New Freedom Riders


On May 9, 2011 Quality of Life Community Services kicked off the first trips for a new program, "The New Freedom Riders."  This is an innovative pilot project serving Hillsborough County, coordinated by Sunshine Line (813-272-7272) and made possible by a federal grant with the support of the Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board.


The New Freedom Riders program will provide over 6,000 trips to seniors and people with disabilities, for life-enhancing activities such as shopping, civic and religious services, wellness activities and other events proven to increase the quality of life. This program also offers assistance for medically stranded riders, as well as inter-county trips in exceptional situations.


New Freedom Riders program is the result of a strong team of collaborators who gave great input into which services would most benefit our transportation disadvantaged community.  Special thanks go out to the Sunshine Line; Hillsborough County Department of Aging Services; West Central Florida Area Agency on Aging; and the late Mr. Leonard Plotkin, serving as a citizen advocate.


Quality of Life Community Services, Inc. is a non-profit organization focused on identifying and providing accessible solutions for seniors and people with disabilities in three key areas: transportation, education and wellness. The company founders have been serving this population for more than two decades. Through their relationships with transportation, education and healthcare providers, they are building a network of programs in the Tampa Bay area and beyond to link clients with services that support successful aging.


To learn more about Quality of Life Community Services visit their website:




Becki Forsell Visits Tallahassee


Becki Forsell (far right in above photo) took part in the annual Transportation Disadvantaged Day in Tallahassee on March 17, 2011. This day is geared towards creating awareness of the Transportation Disadvantaged Program and its importance in the lives of people who are transportation disadvantaged.

Becki Forsell, Member-At-Large of Hillsborough's Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board, reports the following about her recent trip to Tallahassee for TD Day. "I got to Tallahassee late Monday and spent Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday going up and down every one of those halls. I saw 23 senators personally and I saw 33 get our message across that our trust fund was very important to us and transportation is affecting our jobs and affecting our livelihood, and our health."
Becki reports we had a major victory in that there was an increase of $1.5 million added to the Transportation Disadvantaged program. We anticipate that full authority will be given to the Commission in the 2012 session.




Legislators Get On The Bus

Legislative Bus Days


Legislative Bus Days are designed to promote awareness about public transportation in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties and the importance of public transit for persons who are disabled and disadvantaged. The events were part of Mental Health Month in May.


The first Legislative Bus Day, hosted by Pinellas County Commissioner Kenneth Welch, was held on May 2nd. Welch was joined by Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender Bob Dillinger, St. Petersburg Council Member Wengay Newton and other community leaders in for a quick tour of the City of St. Petersburg and lunch via the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.


Hillsborough's first Bus Day was held on May 25, hosted by Congresswoman Kathy Castor. The two remaining Hillsborough Bus Days include May 27, hosted by US Senator Marco Rubio and May 31, hosted by Hillsborough County Commissioner and MPO Board Member Sandra Murman.


For more information, contact BayCare's Betty Kennedy at 352-424-1879



HART's MetroRapid In Final Design

HART MetroRapid


MetroRapid is a new type of express bus service coming to Hillsborough County. It features traffic signal priority technology, which will hold green lights longer and shorten red lights for these special buses. MetroRapid will also include safe and comfortable passenger shelters with real-time bus arrival information, and ticket vending machines at major stops.
The first line in Hillsborough County, MetroRapid North-South, will run from Downtown Tampa to USF and Telecom Park. A new park and ride facility is planned in the Fletcher Avenue/I-75 area.  The total cost of the MetroRapid North-South project is $31 million and is being paid for by funds from the Hillsborough County Community Investment Tax (CIT). The service is scheduled to open in early 2013.
For more information about this project, visit the Capital Projects page on or call the HART Planning Department at 813-384-6591




RedCoach Intercity Transit



RedCoach, the luxury intercity bus service is now providing service to two stops in Tampa. You can find RedCoach in Downtown Tampa at the Residence Inn by Marriott, 101 E. Tyler St., as well as to the "Red 2" ground transportation waiting area at Tampa International Airport. RedCoach seats 27 and provides trips to Orlando and seven other Florida destinations in addition to Atlanta and Tifton, Ga.


For more information visit RedCoach's website at or call 1.877.733.0724.




HART Updates Its 10-Year Plan

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit logo



HART is re-examining how best to address the needs that exist for transit service now and over the next ten years.

Current challenges include: 

  • HART provides a limited amount of service because of funding limitations 
  • Many parts of Hillsborough County do not have transit service
  • Service is not frequent on many routes, with long waits between buses
  • Many bus routes have no or limited weekend and late evening service
  • Traffic congestion affects transit, with longer travel times impacting passengers and service costs 
  • Low density development patterns increase transit costs

The need for better transit will increase as Hillsborough County's population continues to grow.  For more information on the Transit Development Plan Update or to provide your thoughts or suggestions, visit or call 813-223-6831.




TBARTA Corridor Studies



TBARTA is moving forward with its Regional Master Plan by studying how to implement rapid transit in key corridors. Study areas include: 

  • Bruce B Downs Blvd, connecting USF and Wesley Chapel
  • I-275, Howard Frankland Bridge connecting Pinella County with the Westhore Business District and Tampa International Airport
  • Westshore to Crystal River/Inverness Express Bus, with stop in Pasco & Hernando Counties
  • I-75 Regional Bus from SR 54 to Downtown Tampa
  • I-75 Regional Bus from Downtown Tampa to Sarasota-Bradenton


For further information see TBARTA's project page: