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

Issue 4 | May 2012

What's In This Issue

Take A Survey
Streetcar Extension Awarded
University Area Transit
Westshore Circulator Study
TBARTA One Call / One Click
HART Breaks Record
Just North of the Border
Lakeland Park & Ride
Tampa Amtrak Ridership Up 16%
GOP Express in Tampa
HART Route Improvements
HARTplus Goes Compact


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Community Design Awards Honor Tampa Streetcar Extension
Teco Streetcar Line Whiting Street Extension
photo courtesy of


The judges for the Planning Commission's 30th Annual Community Design Awards program selected a wide range of fantastic planning projects in many categories presented at an Awards Dinner on May 10th at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.  They also considered how excellence in planning can impact economic development and can actually build a better, more sustainable community when they called out special projects to receive Judges' Choice Awards.


The first Judges' Choice was an Award of Merit going to the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, Kimmins Contracting, and Tampa Historic Streetcar for the TECO Line Streetcar Extension Phase Two A.


Completed on-time and under-budget, this project expanded streetcar service into the core of the downtown business district.  It provides a vibrant connection between the cultural, residential and business destinations in Downtown Tampa, the Channel District, and Historic Ybor City.  The new station includes a "Lights on Tampa" public art display, complements its surroundings, and is sensitive to traffic flow.


Most importantly, more than $1.2 billion in private investment has been made along the original streetcar line that now serves visitors, residents and workers alike with this extension.  The judges loved this transit link for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as its proximity to major parking facilities and applauded HART and the City of Tampa for its perseverance and recognition of the significance of mass transit investments to enhance economic growth and development.  This is evidenced by the new $30 million facility for the University of South Florida Center for Medical Learning Simulation (CAMLS) as the type of new investment that just opened accompanying this extension.


All aboard the TECO Line Streetcar Extension for this great investment in our community!


More information on the TECO Line Streetcar.

More information on the Community Design Awards.

Share Your Thoughts on Transit Service in the University Area 
University Area Transit

The MPO, in coordination with the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART), is beginning a Transit Study in the University Area with a focus on the need and feasibility of additional circulator bus service.  Currently, HART provides local bus service in the University Area Community and operates the  Bull Runner circulator service for USF.  The University Area Transit Center serves as the transfer point for eleven local bus routes. Additionally, the major area hospitals have begun to shuttle some of their employees from off-site lots, as parking demand has grown over the years while the number of parking spaces has remained fairly constant.


Current service levels will be further enhanced when HART's MetroRapid service begins in 2013, featuring fewer stops, higher frequency and advanced technology.  The North-South MetroRapid will run north on Nebraska Avenue from downtown Tampa then east along Fletcher Avenue to the vicinity of Telecom Park (west of I-75).  A new park and ride facility is planned in the Fletcher Avenue/I-75 area.  


The Transit Study will review current services, destinations and times of day, looking for opportunities to improve options and efficiencies.  Get involved today by taking the University Area Transit Survey .   


For more information, please contact Randy Kranjec, AICP, at 813/272-3774 x359 or


Westshore Circulator Study Launches
Westshore Plaza
Long considered one of the largest business districts in the Tampa Bay Region, Westshore is evolving from just a business location into a place to live, work and play.  Many transporation plans are underway that will all converge here, including:
  • HART's MetroRapid East-West connecting Tampa International Airport, the Westshore Business District and the HART Netpark Transfer Center and Temple Terrace  
  • PSTA's connection across the Howard Frankland Bridge 
  • TBARTA's regional express service from the Suncoast

To prepare, the Hillsborough County MPO has launched a Transit Circulator Feasibility Study for the greater Westshore area.  A transit circulator is a smaller bus operating on a frequent schedule to connect major attractions within a neighborhood or district.  It can link a rapid transit hub to the front doors of businesses, hotels and apartment communities.  


This study will analyze circulator service operating at particular times of the day to best serve the people in Westshore.  Data will be collected on and consideration will be given to Westshore residents, businesses, employees, and visitors as well as needs of the students at Hillsborough Community College.  Finally, the study will consider potential ways to fund this services.  For more information, please contact Randy Kranjec, AICP, at 813/273-3774 x359 or


TBARTA One Call / One Click

TBARTA will be reaching out to veterans and the military community in the Tampa Bay area with a new program expected to be up and running by the end of 2012 aimed at improving access to transportation services. The "One Call/ One Click" Transportation Information Center will be funded through a Federal Transit Administration grant, with support from Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense.  This "one-stop shop" for transportation information in the Tampa Bay region will eventually be made available to the general public.  


Veterans and military groups who are interested in learning more are invited to contact TBARTA at 813/282-8200.


HART Continues to Break Records
HART Ridership

Details and photo courtesy of and

March 2012 marked the highest month for bus ridership in HART history!   HART has experienced consecutive monthly bus ridership increases for more than two years, and several routes occasionally are even standing-room only.

  • March 2012 bus ridership of 1,278,876 is a 5% increase compared to the same month last year.
  • March 2012 bus ridership topped the previous monthly record set in March 2011 by more than 60,000 trips.
  • Bus ridership October 2011 - March 2012 has increased nearly 7% compared to the same months last fiscal year.

HART's CEO Philip Hale attributes the increase to several factors. "We've been diligent in putting the service where the ridership is and improving the service in those specific areas. We've added more service on Saturdays and Sundays and run a little bit later at night, making it a little more convenient for people to go where they want to go."   Plan your next bus trip on HART using the Google Trip Planner or call 813/254-4278.


Just North of the Border
Pasco Cross County Bus Service @ The Shops At Wiregrass
photo courtesy of

Pasco County's new Cross County Service debuted on March 5th 2012 and is the first Pasco County Public Transportation (PCPT) route to provide service from West to East Pasco County and open up service to Central Pasco.


The route takes 1 hour and 45 minutes end-to-end.  It begins at the new Medical Center of Trinity, runs along SR 54 servicing the Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel, and ends at the transfer area at the Zephyrhills City Hall.  This Cross County Service connects with HART's commuter express line, 51X, at Victorious Life Church.  A one-day pass costs just $3.75.


Mike Carroll, manager of Pasco County Public Transportation, said riders had been asking for such a route for six or seven years.   For more information, Mike Carroll can be reached at 727/834-3322.

Park & Ride from Lakeland to
Tampa & Orlando

Pasco Citrus Connection Bus

 Image courtesy of, details courtesy of


Polk County residents traveling I-4 to Tampa or Orlando will have a transit option, thanks to a Park & Ride bus service operated by the Citrus Connection system in the Lakeland area.


Initially, drivers will be able to park their cars and get on a bus to travel around Polk.  Eventually, express bus service from Lakeland to both Tampa and Orlando is anticipated. "Orlando express service could look something like going to Disney, then heading to the downtown LYNX terminal to provide access to all of Orlando, and then heading to the [Orlando] airport," said Tom Phillips, Executive Director of the Lakeland Area Mass Transit District.


Express bus service from Lakeland to Tampa or Orlando may run about $10 per person.  The ground-breaking on the Park & Ride lot will take place on June 18th.   Construction is expected to last through the end of 2012.  If JARC funding is received, this service will begin mid-2013; otherwise, this I-4 express bus service will begin in 2014.

Tampa Amtrak Ridership Rises 16%
Tampa Amtrak Ridership

Details courtesy of

Amtrak is chugging toward an annual ridership record, and Tampa is moving at four times the national rate!  National ridership from October through March grew 3.7% compared with the same period last year.  Ridership gains at Tampa's Union Station were much stronger at 15.8% for a total of 77,781 passengers!  For the past three years, local ridership is up 46.2%.   One of every three passengers riding the Silver Star which travels daily between New York and Miami gets on or off in Tampa.  A one-way reserved coach ticket on a weekend Silver Star trip from Tampa to Miami costs $39.  


Amtrak has set ridership records nationwide in eight of the past nine years, and this year's numbers so far indicate 2012 will surpass last year's record of 30.2 million passengers.  Amtrak was established by Congress in 1970 to take over intercity operations from railroads that wanted to drop passenger service.  Amtrak officials have credited the service's growing popularity to patrons seeking to avoid high gasoline prices, better marketing, and convenience.  

GOP Express...  to Downtown Tampa
Republican National Convention Tour Buses

Details courtesy of


This summer, Tampa will host the Republican National Convention (RNC).  The downtown landscape will be transformed from August 27th - 30th with 300 chartered buses serving the RNC.  The buses, collectively known as the GOP Express, will carry convention delegates from 100 hotels around Tampa Bay into downtown.


The RNC will give Tampa an opportunity to see just how effective transit can be in quickly moving large masses of people.  In downtown Tampa, police officers will stop cross-traffic at downtown intersections as delegate caravans roll through town. And on the interstate, drivers could see a lane reserved just for delegate buses. "At peak hours, there will be a dynamic that we've never experienced before," said Tampa Mayor Buckhorn.  


HART Moving, One Stop at a Time  
Hart Bus Stop

HART has more than 40 local, express and flex routes that make pick-ups and drop-offs at nearly 3,500 bus stops throughout Hillsborough County! HART has been making route-by-route improvements of these bus stops, installing shelters and wheelchair access pads, and improving spacing between stops.  In Fiscal Year 2011, 50 shelters were installed and 218 bus stops were improved throughout the cities of Tampa and Temple Terrace and throughout Hillsborough County.


These bus stop improvements benefit all neighborhood residents because they include adding sidewalks and wheelchair landing pads, boosting accessibility and connectivity for transit customers and the public alike.  


Check out the latest edition of Next Stop with HART to find out more about the HART Bus Stop Improvement Program



New HARTPlus Vans Go Compact to Better Serve Growing Ridership  
Hart Plus Compact Vans
HARTPlus, HART's specialized transportation for people with disabilities, is going compact.  Six Dodge Caravans have been ordered and are scheduled to be in full service by late summer.  These paratransit mini-vans feature lowered-floors and are equipped with mobility ramps.  Going compact means better gas mileage -- up to four miles more per gallon!  The savings add up significantly considering HARTPlus fleet travels more than one million miles each year!

This addition to HART's van fleet will help better serve the growing demand for paratransit service, which increased 18% in Fiscal Year 2011.