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


Issue 3 / February 2012

What's In This Issue :

CTC Performance Eval
2035 Post-Ref Analysis
Downtown Master/Transit Plans
HART E-W Corridor
Sunshine Line + HART
TD Legislative Day
Welcome, Steve Holmes!
Pinellas Alternatives Analysis
Westshore Rapid Transit
Westshore Transit Hub
HART Op Center Renovations


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Sunshine Line Met All Performance Targets for Fiscal Year 10/11

Sunshine Line
The Hillsborough County Transportation Disadvantaged (TD) program provides needed transportation to those who do not have the means or ability to transport themselves, and are dependent on others to obtain access to health care, employment, education, shopping, and other life sustaining activities.

As required by the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged (CTD), each of the state's TD programs is coordinated by a Community Transportation Coordinator (CTC). The county government has been designated as the CTC for Hillsborough County, and operates as the Sunshine Line.

Annually, the MPO conducts an evaluation of the CTC.  The evaluation looks at five major criteria to evaluate performance: Reliability, Service Effectiveness, Service Efficiency, Service Availability and Safety.

In fiscal year 2010/2011 the CTC met all performance standards! The MPO congratulates the CTC for a job well done ending the current 5 year period as the designated provider of service for Hillsborough County on a high note!

For more information contact Michele Ogilvie at or 813-272-3774 x. 317.

MPO Considers Next Steps in Hillsborough Transportation Investments
2035 Post-Referendum Analysis

While the 2010 sales tax referendum to fund Hillsborough County transportation projects passed within the cities of Tampa and Temple Terrace, it did not pass countywide and therefore failed in the overall approval.  Yet one thing is clear from our and others' analysis, and that is that a majority of residents across our county perceive transportation as a critical issue.  In order to find out what strategies the voters are prepared to support, the MPO is revisiting the Cost-Affordable 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) by conducting discussions with randomly selected registered voters organized into focus groups. This research is accompanied by looking at cost reduction and alternative funding strategies, and overseen by an interagency working group of staff and citizens.
The MPO study included focus group research conducted in March 2011 and in November 2011, with randomly selected residents from eight different areas of Hillsborough County representing a mix of ages, genders, faces and party affiliations. This research was conducted by a public opinion research firm that has extensive experience with similar research in Denver, CO.
Key findings that reflect the voters' perception of the issues in March included:
  • Hillsborough County's traffic situation is perceived to be a byproduct of local government's failure to plan ahead and ensure adequate transportation infrastructure.
  • The most popular strategies proposed to address traffic congestion were small and targeted: improving traffic flow on local roads, not adding new modes to the system.
  • Many focus group participants think that the Tampa area and Hillsborough County might be too sprawling, too car-centric, and too dispersed for mass transit to ever truly make an impact.  
  • The focus groups' collective perception of the current bus system is neutral at best; negative at worst, and for participants from the unincorporated parts of Hillsborough County, there is no baseline perception at all.
  • Participants who were in favor of expanding mass transit generally supported a more incremental approach.
  • Focus group participants from every corner of Hillsborough County were virtually unanimous that the pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure is dismal and a safety risk.
In November, a second round of focus group participants discussed hypothetical transportation improvement scenarios, pairing high-priority types of projects identified in the spring's research with potentially available new revenue sources. Simple, public-friendly fact sheets were produced for each hypothetical scenario, describing what types of improvements could be made over a five-year period, at what out-of-pocket expense to the typical household.  Key findings of this second phase included:
  • In evaluating the funding scenarios, the focus groups' overall response was that the broader the application of the tax or fee, the stronger the support. Localized, small-area funding tools in defined areas garnered less support than those that could be used for system-wide improvements. So, for example, the gas tax and sales tax were better received than property tax.
  • Concerns and skepticism about government accountability and transparency were major obstacles to the focus groups' support of any of the funding scenarios for transportation.
  • Focus group participants generally agreed that growth will continue in Hillsborough County, and that the transportation system is inadequate to meet today's needs, much less the needs of the future with additional growth.
  • The diversity of Hillsborough County's transportation needs presents a major challenge to building unified support for any specific funding scenario.  (Further: The idea of a light rail demonstration line generated supportive response-more so with focus groups from Tampa than the outlying areas of the County-though there was little consensus yet on where such a line should be built.)
  • The notion of the City of Tampa moving forward with a transportation funding proposal on its own, separate from the county, generated moderate interest as an option worth exploring. Meanwhile, combining Hillsborough County transportation efforts (including transit) with adjacent counties received mixed reaction-but overall, participants agreed it is a conversation worth having.
  • The focus groups' recollection of the 2010 Hillsborough County transportation sales tax referendum was very limited-and mostly inaccurate. No one in the focus groups represented that they were upset that they were given the opportunity to vote on the issue.
For more information, please see the MPO's 2035 Post Referendum Analysis Project site or contact Beth Alden,, 813-272-3774 x. 318.


Downtown Master & Transit Corridor Plans 
Downtown Tampa

The City of Tampa has selected a national consultant, AECOM, to develop a downtown master plan and plan for Tampa's primary transit corridor, leading north from Downtown and into East Tampa.

"The completion of this plan will give us a blueprint for the development of our downtown and the adjoining neighborhoods for the next 20 years," said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "Together, with the recent Urban Land Institute panel and the active input of all of the neighborhood stakeholders, this is a process that will be built from the ground up. AECOM brings international experience and a fresh set of eyes to our city. I could not be more excited about this partnership."

The total project budget is $1.43 million. In addition to a $1.18 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the City will contribute $125,000 in funding and another $125,000 as in-kind support. The project will take approximately 18-24 months to complete.

The study area for the Downtown Area Conceptual Master Plan is generally within two-miles of the center of Downtown. The study area for the primary transit corridor is generally along Nebraska Avenue from Downtown to Hillsborough Avenue, then east along Hillsborough Avenue to 22nd Street, and extending about 1/3 mile on each side.
For more information, visit AECOM or contact the City of Tampa's Public Affairs Director, Ali Glisson, at 813-274-8262.


HART Focuses on East-West Corridor

HART E-W MetroRapid
HART is moving forward with a Project Development and Environmental (PD&E) study for development of premium transit service along a second corridor in Hillsborough County, dubbed the MetroRapid East-West.  A north-south corridor was studied earlier between Downtown Tampa and the USF area, and construction of that MetroRapid corridor, including stations and traffic signal improvements, is slated later in 2012.

The east-west corridor study will determine a route between Temple Terrace, the Westshore Business District area and Tampa International Airport. The study also will evaluate potential bus connections to HART's West Tampa Transfer Center on Himes Avenue, the North-South MetroRapid line on Nebraska Avenue, and the HART Netpark bus transfer center at Hillsborough Avenue and 56th Street.

HART's "MetroRapid" brand features more frequent service, shorter trips (through traffic signal priority, off-board fare collection), enhanced passenger stations (shelters, future real-time passenger information, streetscaping), and specially branded, low-floor buses.

The first MetroRapid E-W Public Workshop is planned for February 16, 2012 at the Hillsborough Community College Dale Mabry Campus, Student Services Building, Rooms 108, 110 and 112 from 4:30 to 7:30 pm.

For more information, visit HART's MetroRapid site.

Sunshine Line & HART Collaborate to Provide More Service

Think government can be more efficient? HART and the Sunshine Line agree with you. Their recent review of service they provide to citizens with disabilities showed they both run vans to nine dialysis centers in the Tampa area. In a new six-month pilot project, all these customers will be transitioned to being served by HART Plus, freeing the Sunshine Line to provide trips to other residents. Congratulations to HART and Hillsborough County on their staffs' research and collaboration!

Citizens with Disabilities Converge on Tallahassee
TD Day 2011

February 2, 2012 will be Transportation Disadvantaged Day during this years' legislative sessions. Hillsborough residents Gloria Mills & Becki Forsell, volunteer members of the MPO's Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board, plan to participate and speak up about how important mobility is for self-sufficiency.

Many people, including legislators, have never heard of the Transportation Disadvantaged (TD) Program until they or someone they know needs this service.  This is why it is imperative to inform those who are making the decisions about all that TD does to benefit the State of Florida.  TD keeps thousands of Floridians independent and out of institutional care, while stimulating Florida's economy.  For every $1 spent on transportation, the State of Florida receives more than $8 in return, in impact to local economies through increased business with citizens who are not house-bound.

For more information on TD Day in Tallahassee visit the Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged website.

Welcome, Steve Holmes!
Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged

Steve Holmes has been appointed the new Executive Director of the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged. The Commission's Chairmain, David Darm, had this to say:
"We are very excited to announce the appointment of our new executive director, Lieutenant Colonel
Steve Holmes.   Lt. Col. Holmes served in the United States Marine Corps from 1976 to 2000, where he held a variety of leadership, operational planning and instructor positions.   During his service, Lt. Col. Holmes participated in numerous operations, including DESERT SHIELD/STORM in Southwest Asia and OPERATION ALLIED FORCE in the Balkans.  Upon retirement, Steve moved to Tallahassee where he served Florida's most vulnerable citizens with the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF).  While at DCF, Steve served in various positions, such as the Chief of Strategic Planning and the Chief of Staff.  Steve recently served as the Chief Operations Officer of the Florida Veterans Foundation, where he assisted the Foundation in the development and operation of its charitable and educational programs.  Please join me in welcoming Steve Holmes to the Commission. "

Pinellas Planners Propose Rail from Clearwater to St Petersburg

Charlotte Rail

Pinellas' 2011 study of potential rail corridors is coming to a close with a goal of identifying transit options that would improve Pinellas County's and West Central Florida's quality of life, the study examined options to implement premium transit service connecting major residential, employment and activity centers in Pinellas County such as Downtown St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and the Carillon/Gateway business district. Connections were also studied to the Westshore area as well as Downtown Tampa, in Hillsborough County.
The Project Advisory Committee, comprised of county commissioners, city councilmembers and others, voted December 2, 2011 to support a significant upgrade of PSTA's bus system, and a future Light Rail line from Clearwater to Gateway to St. Petersburg, with a connection to Downtown Tampa, generally in the I-275 corridor.
The PAC will vote on a final recommendation in late January, with endorsement votes expected at PSTA, the Pinellas MPO, TBARTA and the Cities of Clearwater, Largo, Pinellas Park, and St. Petersburg in the following months.

For more information visit the Pinellas On Track website.

TBARTA Studying Rapid Transit, Northward from Westshore

Bus Rapid Transit
The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority's (TBARTA's) Westshore Area to Crystal River/Inverness Transit Corridor study will look at the extension of premium transit service from the Westshore business district in Tampa, along the Veterans Expressway/Suncoast Parkway northward, connecting Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties.
TBARTA's Master Plan identified that this study corridor would use some form of premium bus service - possibly Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), express bus in managed lanes, express bus in mixed traffic, or some combination. The transit service will branch off the Suncoast Parkway onto major local routes in each of the northern counties - S.R. 54 in Pasco County, S.R. 50 in Hernando County, and S.R. 44 and U.S. 98/U.S. 19 in Citrus County. The services will extend to park-and-ride locations within the counties.
The study focus will be to connect northern counties to employment centers, as well as station and development opportunities along the route(s). Major products will include transit operations studies and station area location analysis/development opportunities.

See TBARTA's project site for further information.

Westshore Transit Hub Long-Range Plan: Four Candidate Sites
Westshore Intermodal Top Four Sites

In an effort to enhance regional connections, the Westshore Multimodal Study and Strategic Transportation Plan was initiated as a joint effort of the Hillsborough MPO, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District Seven and TBARTA.

Its purpose was to identify viable sites within the core Westshore business district where future rail and rapid bus lines from around the region could connect with each other and with local bus lines, taxis, parking, and walking and bike routes. The site should also be conducive to commercial, office, hotel and/or residential development, to open the door to economic growth and public-private joint ventures.

Based on technical review and community feedback, the study identifed four viable sites for the Westshore Multimodal Center. Each of these sites meets the spirit of the guiding principles and offers short-term and long-term opportunities for development. Keeping all four sites as viable options offers flexibility for future decisions in coordination with local property owners, and provides multiple alternatives for a future environmental study (required to secure federal funding).

The four alternatives are:
  • Westshore Plaza-Redevelopment of North Parking Garage
  • Redevelopment of parcels on the north side of I-275 between Trask Street and Manhattan Avenue
  • Adjacent to Jefferson High School
  • Redevelopment of Parking Garages along Trask Street at Cypress Street

For more information see the MPO's Westshore Intermodal Study website or contact Randy Kranjec at or 813-272-3774 x.359 

HART 21st Avenue Efficiencies
HART Operations Center

HART is set to begin the renovation of its 21st Avenue Operations Center.  The building is over 40 years old and has not had any modifications since the early 1980's.  The upgrades will comply with federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements as well as current City of Tampa Code requirements.  Additionally, the renovations include relocating staff from leased trailers, for an annual savings of $31,000. The renovations will improve plumbing and electrical systems as well as the building's energy performance, providing an estimated 25-35% annual savings in utility costs.  

The $3.7 million project is 100% federally funded and scheduled for completion in the fall of 2012.

For more information, contact Mary Shavalier at or 813-623-5835.