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


Issue 2 / September 2011

What's In This Issue :

JARC / NF Grants
Becki Forsell Awarded
Tampa Water Transit
Westshore Transit Hub
Smart Signals & Buses
Streetcar Service Cuts
Annual CTD Conference
F.A.I.R. Event


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Ride Providers Apply For Grants
JARC NF logo
In June, the three MPOs of Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough together  issued an annual request for grant applications to receive funding under the Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) and New Freedom grant programs of the Federal Transit Administration. Funding is available for projects in Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas Counties that provide public transportation services to low income persons for the purpose of accessing jobs, and to disabled persons to increase integration into the workforce and participation in the community. Project applications were due on July 22, 2011.


Four JARC applications were received, proposing the following projects:
  1. HART would fund late night, weekday service routes connect low-income workers with employment.
  2. Hillsborough County would provide transportation services to low-income and/or disabled residents for employment and  work-related activities, such as job training, interviews, and other eligible services.
  3. WorkNet Pinellas, Inc. would use grant money to provide eligible welfare participants from Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough Counties with improved access to transportation options and support services by using a voucher-type incentive system to provide reimbursements for vehicle maintenance and to provide gas cards to help cover the high costs of fuel.
  4. Suncoast Center would (based on Way to Works national model program) provide small loans to low-income working parents specifically for car purchases and repairs, assisting families toward selfsufficiency by securing fixed-interest loans for those who might not otherwise qualify or fall victim to predatory lenders. Financial education, life skills, car maintenance, and credit-buying skills are part of the loan process.  
Six New Freedom applications were received, proposing the following projects:
  1. Quality of Life Services whose project would expand current "New Freedom Riders" pilot project to go beyond Hillsborough County, to Pinellas and Pasco Counties. Includes door to door and feeder services, a supplemental voucher program for agencies who serve the transportation disadvantaged, specialized driver training, consumer/rider education, and outreach program services.
  2. Neighborly Care Network would expand the EZride Program, which is a prepaid fee for service, volunteer-based transportation program providing transportation services for community access to elderly and disabled populations to destinations in Pinellas County, southern Pasco County, and specific destinations within Hillsborough County.
  3. Center for Independence would continue to provide and on-demand transportation services to adults with disabilities throughout Pasco County; expand on-demand services on weekdays, evenings, and weekends, offer on-demand links to existing public transportation services; provide flex route services connecting east and west Pasco County.
  4. PSTA would use the grant money for mobility management, including development of "one-stop" information center; travel training & trip planning; coordinating providers, funding agencies, and persons needing trips; and planning and implementing coordinated services, including the TD & DART programs.
  5. HART would construct up to 17 ADA compliant paved landing pads/shelter pads at bus stops and short sections of sidewalks that tie into existing sidewalk systems.
  6. Faith in Action would expand the transportation service of the Independent Living Program (ILP) providing transportation to medical/business appointments, grocery shopping, and running errands for the elderly and disabled in the Northern Pinellas County area.
For the JARC Program, approximately $1,251,489 will be available for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, and for the New Freedom Program, approximately $921,925 will be available for FY 2011. Spending priorities will be adopted by the Hillsborough MPO Board on September 6 and subsequently by the Pinellas MPO Board.


For more information contact Heather Sobush, Pinellas MPO, at 727-464-8200




American Council of the Blind Recognizes Tampa Role Model  


Becki Forsell, TDCB's Member at Large (shown here on the right), was awarded the national Durward McDaniel's Ambassador Award for 2011 by the American Council of the Blind, July 15, 2011.


The award was presented to Becki Forsell in recognition of her day-to-day activities as a positive role model and a representative of the capabilities of people who are blind throughout society. One person in America is chosen each year. "I was very surprised and humbled by it," says Mrs. Forsell.


We're not surprised! Congratulations from the TDCB!




Water Transit In Tampa?     
Potential Water Transit Vessel

With its many communities ringing Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County was able to win a Ferry Boat Discretionary grant from the US Maritime Administration. The MPO has been assisting the county staff with a study of the most effective use of the grant funds. Phase I of the study analyzed a number of potential routes throughout Tampa Bay and determined  that the most viable and productive route is between southern Hillsborough County and MacDill Air Force Base.  Many commuters make this trip today by driving a long way around the bay.
Phase 2 of the study, now underway, will evaluate potential vessels, docks and park & ride locations; survey MacDill employees; and estimate costs vs. fare revenues. Coordination with Tampa Port water traffic is on-going. The study will conclude in late 2011 with a recommendation whether or not waterborne commuter service should be implemented on this route.

For more information contact Randy Kranjec, 813-273-3774 ext. 359,, or visit the study page on the MPO's website.




Westshore Regional Transit Hub      
Intermodal District Concept

Though voters turned down a sales tax in November to build rail in Hillsborough right away, in the long term some form of rapid transit may be desired. But where will it fit, if all available land has been used? The question underlies the Westshore Multimodal Study and Strategic Transportation Plan, a collaborative planning effort to  determine a feasible location for a Multimodal Center and Transit Oriented development (TOD)  in the Westshore business district of Tampa.

Westshore is home to nearly 100,000 jobs, two major malls, Raymond James Stadium, Hillsborough Community College, and Tampa International Airport. It also sits at the crossroads of several major regional highways. Lanes are scheduled to be added, but then the highways will be built out. Further capacity depends on transit. The kinds of transit can evolve over time, from today's express buses to fixed-guideway transit in the future. So the location of a regional transit hub, with connections to Downtown, to Pinellas County, to Pasco and north, must be able to accommodate change. It should have room for taxis, bicycles, and local circulator shuttles, and it should make the most of economic growth potential.
A Multimodal Center is a facility that will connect several modes of transportation, create new development opportunities in Westshore, and greatly enhance the regional transportation network. At the onset of this study, 21 potential sites were identified. That list has been reduced to four sites.The outcome will be a factor in the design of the I-275/Memorial Highway interchange and other improvements to I-275 currently being engineered by the FDOT.

For more information contact Randy Kranjec, 813-273-3774 ext. 359,, or visit the study page on the MPO's website.




Smart Traffic Signals & Buses       
Smart Signals & Buses

The HART MetroRapid North/South route will be under construction soon. The North/South MetroRapid will run from Fletcher and I-75 to Nebraska Avenue, south into Tampa's Central Business District.

Traffic Signal priority, or TSP, is an key feature of HART's new MetroRapid service. Signal prioritization - holding green lights, shortening red lights to give buses priority travel through intersections - is a technology that HART has been coordinating closely with Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa. It is a geographic information system (GIS) based technology that Hillsborough Fire Rescue vehicles will also utilize once it has been installed. HART and the County are analyzing the potential for a County-wide system.

Visit HART's Traffic Signal Prioritization page for more information.


Streetcar Service Cuts Anticipated 
Streetcar Service

The board of directors of the TECO Electric Streetcar voted in July to cut operating expenses 30 percent for the next fiscal year. Cars will run every 20 minutes instead of every 15 on Fridays and Saturdays.  Only about $190,000 remains in the streetcar's endowment, and that is expected to run out next year.

In August, Tampa Port Authority board members narrowly rejected a proposal to continue the Port's $150,000 annual contribution to the streetcar operations. The funding cut amounts to nearly 10 percent of the streetcar's $1.51 million budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
''We'd be forced to further reduce service," said Tampa attorney David Mechanik, president of the streetcar's board of directors, when asked how the shortfall would be handled, according to the St Petersburg Times.

The TECO Electric Streetcar connects Tampa's cruise terminals with Ybor City and the Convention Center, as well as  Tampa's  downtown office core, Times Forum, and several parking garages.


TBARTA Suncoast BRT Study  

TBARTA's Westshore Area to Crystal River/Inverness Transit Corridor Evaluation will evaluate transit alternatives that connect Hillsborough and Citrus Counties. Options include Local Bus, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Toll/Managed Lanes, commuter and light rail. The study expected to be complete no later than July, 2012.


2011 State Conference : "Time for a Change"    
2011 TD Conference

The 19th annual Transportation Disadvantaged Best Practices and Training Workshop was held August 9th - 11th in Daytona Beach. With the overall theme of "It's Time for a Change", workshops provided participants with new or updated tools to help provide better service and advocacy for the Transportation Disadvantaged populations.

"No Time For Boundaries or Barriers" was a session presented by Brett Eastburn who was born with no arms or legs but truly believes he has no handicaps. His message - you are a success only if you allow yourself to be.
The Federal Transit administration unveiled a practical, new and free web based tool that will help with the procurement process when working with Federal funds. The Commission for Transportation Disadvantaged followed with a business meeting at which they stated the intent to lay out a road map of ambitious goals for the commission in the next 5 years.
View the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantage's recap of the conference.




Family Abilities Information Rally   
Abilities F.A.I.R.

The 4th Annual Family Abilities Information Rally (F.A.I.R.) will take place beginning at 10 a.m., on Saturday Oct. 1, at All People's Life Center, 6105 E. Sligh Ave. in Tampa. County Commissioners will join more than 80 community groups who will enrich, educate and empower individuals and their families living with disabilities.
The F.A.I.R. is a family-friendly community event for everyone with all level of abilities. Activities at the FAIR event include arts & crafts, balloon making, bounce house, bowling, demonstrations by Southeast Guide Dogs and transportation mobility, face painting, free books, an obstacle course, a petting zoo, wheelchair sports, and more. Food will be available for purchase. Popcorn is free.
Come out and see the MPO booth at the F.A.I.R. For more information please visit the F.A.I.R. website.