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

Issue 5 | August 2012

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What's In This Issue

Take A Survey
Disability Awareness & Community Inclusion Day
MAP-21 Legislation
HART MetroRapid N-S
JARC / New Freedom
Less Driving in the Future
5th Annual F.A.I.R. on October 6th
TDCB Receives Recognition
HARTplus Fare Changes Coming
APTA Transit Report
20th State TD Conference
HART Awarded Grants
Rail Project Connections
Polk Rail Project Workshops


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Disability Awareness & Community Inclusion Day in Hillsborough County


Tune into HTV on Thursday, September 6th at 9:00 a.m. when County Commissioner and MPO Board Member Kevin Beckner will present a proclamation on behalf of the Board of County Commissioners proclaiming October 1st 2012 as Disability Awareness and Community Inclusion Day in Hillsborough County encouraging all citizens to join in supporting individuals with disabilities and take part in activities that will raise awareness and encourage the inclusion of persons living with disabilities in all aspects of our community.    


In accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other  
nondiscrimination laws, public participation is solicited without regard to race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, disability or family status.

MAP-21 Legislation Signed Into Law

(image courtesy of

MAP-21, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (P.L. 112-141), was signed into law by President Obama on July 6, 2012. 


Funding surface transportation programs at over $105 billion for fiscal years (FY) 2013 and 2014, MAP-21 is the first long-term highway authorization enacted since 2005. Over $21 billion is authorized for transit and more than $1.6 billion is for sidewalk, bicycle and other enhancements.


MAP-21 is a milestone for the U.S. economy and the nation's surface transportation program.  MAP-21 creates a streamlined and performance-based surface transportation program and builds on many of the highway, transit, bike, and pedestrian programs and policies established in 1991.


View more information on MAP-21.



HART MetroRapid Breaks Ground

(image and text courtesy of HART)
In August, HART broke ground on its MetroRapid North-South service, the first bus rapid transit system of its kind in this area. It will run 17.5 miles along Nebraska and Fletcher Avenues from HART Marion Transit Center in downtown Tampa to Telecom Park/Hidden River Corporate Park (west of I-75).

MetroRapid N-S will improve travel-time savings by 10-15 percent using Traffic Signal Priority that will shorten red lights and lengthen green lights to keep MetroRapid buses operating on time. TSP will be tested for MetroRapid during late fall 2012.

Fewer stops along the MetroRapid N-S corridor will provide additional travel-time savings for its customers; MetroRapid's 59 station stops are spaced out about every 2,600-4,000 feet. Station stops will feature bicycle racks at each station and ticket vending machines at major stations. A new park and ride facility is planned in Hidden River Corporate Park, near the Fletcher Avenue / I-75 area, to serve the northeast end of the line.

Thirty-one million dollars were allocated by Hillsborough County to fund the design and construction phases of the MetroRapid N-S project. HART is proud to report that a June 2012 review of estimated project costs determined that MetroRapid N-S is under budget by $5.7 million.

MetroRapid N-S construction is scheduled to be completed and open to the public in 2013.

For more information about HART MetroRapid, visit

This Upcoming Year's JARC /
New Freedom Funded Projects

HART Ridership

In August, the three MPOs of Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough Counties, 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 in Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas Counties for projects that provide public transportation services to low income persons to get to work and to disabled persons to improve integration into the workforce and participation in the community.  Project applications were due on August 9, 2012.

Three JARC applications were received, proposing the following projects:
  1. HART would fund late night, weekday service routes connect low-income workers with employment.
  2. Pinellas County Transit (PSTA) would enhance frequency from 75th and Gulf Blvd to Pass a Grille serving numerous employment destinations for service industry workers including hotels and restaurants.
  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 incentives to provide reimbursements for vehicle maintenance and gas cards to help cover rising fuel costs.
Five New Freedom applications were received, proposing the following projects:
  1. 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.
  2. 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; and maintain a call center and community outreach coordinator.
  3. 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.
  4. PSTA would implement a new connector service in the Dunedin/Palm Harbor area. This flexible feeder service will offer passengers the option of calling for a ride, for route deviation service or for picking up the Connector vehicle at one of its regularly scheduled stops along the service corridor. 
  5. 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 $1,263,443 will be available for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, and for the New Freedom Program, approximately $932,641 will be available for FY 2012. Spending priorities will be adopted by the Hillsborough MPO Board on October 2 and subsequently by the Pinellas MPO Board.

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

Less Driving in the Future?

(image courtesy of 
U.S. residents started driving less around the turn of the 21st century, and young people have propelled this trend, according to the federal government's National Household Travel Survey.

From 2001 to 2009, the average annual number of vehicle-miles traveled by people ages 16-34 dropped 23 percent, from 10,300 to 7,900, the survey found. Gen Y-ers, also known as Millennials, tend to ride bicycles, take public transit and rely on telecommuting. More than a quarter of Millennials - 26 percent - lacked a driver's license in 2010, up 5 percentage points from 2000, the Federal Highway Administration reported.

In 2011, the average American drove 6 percent fewer miles than in 2004, according to a recent report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund and the Frontier Group recent report, "Transportation and the New Generation: Why Young People are Driving Less and What it Means for Transportation Policy."

Younger people are driving less for several reasons, including the higher cost of gasoline; college student-loan debt levels that make owning and maintaining a car cost-prohibitive; new, more restrictive driving and licensing laws; technology improvements that support alternative forms of transportation; and the growing popularity on the part of young people to live lifestyles that minimize their environmental impact, the report says.

Younger drivers may be hesitant to get behind the wheel due to factors such as the high cost of owning, fueling and maintaining a car and the convenience of electronic communication. The Frontier Group's Dudzik suggested a related cause: computer and smartphone applications that make taking public transportation easier, with minute-by-minute tracking of buses and trains and simple online maps and travel directions.

Whether Gen Yers will eventually drive more than they do now will affect transportation infrastructure costs, Dudzik said.

Future travel demand plays a large part in the MPO's long range planning for improvements to the County's transportation network.

5th Annual F.A.I.R. on October 6th

The 5th Annual Family Abilities Information Rally (F.A.I.R.) will take place beginning at 10 a.m., on Saturday Oct. 6, 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. Of special note is the anticipated visit from Steve Holmes, Executive Director of the Commission for the Transportation Disadvntaged.

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.



TDCB Receives Recognition
Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged

The Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged recognized Hillsborough County's Transportation Disadvantaged Local Coordinating Board (MPO TDCB) with a Certificate of Appreciation in August. The Board was recognized for its dedication and support of the coordinated transportation system.

Becki Forsell, TDCB's Member at Large, was also recognized by the Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged for her extraordinary efforts volunteering her time and service on behalf of the transportation disadvantaged in Hillsborough County.   


Congratulations and thank you for all of your contributions! 



HARTPlus Fare Changes in November

New HARTPlus fares begin November 11, 2012:  

  • $4 for one-way passes 
  • $40 for 10-ride passes. 

Fares are reviewed every two years to determine if changes are warranted. The last HART fare change took place November 2008. Public meetings about this year's fare modifications were held in June and July, and final approval was made August 2012.


Purchase extra HARTPlus passes before November 11th to save money!   For more information contact Marcia Mejia at or (813) 384-6610.



July Transit Savings Report from APTA

(text courtesy of APTA)
According to the American Public Transportation Association's (APTA) July Transit Savings Report, individuals who ride transit instead of driving can save, on average, $809 per month, and $9,702 annually. These savings are based on the cost of commuting by public transportation compared to the cost of owning and driving a vehicle.

APTA releases monthly Transit Savings Reports to examine how an individual in a two-person household can save money by taking public transportation and living with one less car.

APTA calculates the average cost of taking public transit by determining the average monthly transit pass of local public transit agencies across the country. This information is based on the annual APTA fare collection survey and is weighted based on ridership.  The assumption is that a person making a switch to public transportation would likely purchase an unlimited pass on the local transit agency, typically available on a monthly basis.

APTA then compares the average monthly transit fare to the average cost of driving.  The cost of driving is calculated using the 2012 AAA average cost of driving formula.  AAA cost of driving formula is based on variable costs and fixed costs.  The variable costs include the cost of gas, maintenance and tires.  The fixed costs include insurance, license registration, depreciation and finance charges.  The comparison also uses the average mileage of a mid-size auto at 23.1 miles per gallon and the price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline as recorded by AAA on July 24, 2012 at $3.48 per gallon. The analysis also assumes that a person will drive an average of 15,000 miles per year. The savings assume a person in two-person household lives with one less car.

In determining the cost of parking, APTA uses the data from 2011 Colliers International Parking Rate Study for monthly unreserved parking rates for the United States.

View the top 20 cities in transit ridership for July 2012.

Calculate your individual savings with or without car ownership.

State TD Conference 20th Anniversary

July 31, 2012 marked the beginning of the 20th Annual Best Practices and Training Workshop sponsored by the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged. The workshop allowed State and Local Policy Makers, Metropolitan, County and Regional Planning, Paratransit Systems and Fixed Route Transportation Systems staffs as well as Vendors from transportation, technology and service providers an opportunity to learn and share the latest in transportation management practices, technology and equipment to better assist transportation services to the transportation disadvantaged.

The 20 year milestone provided a framework for a Looking Back, Looking Forward in a time of Change theme for the training sessions that were offered over two days. Looking back, attendees were offered a course on the basics of the Transportation Disadvantaged system. Other offerings
included Capitalizing on Social Media and Effective Marketing. As we all await Change as Florida begins to implement Medicaid reform that will gradually affect how clients receive their medical trips.

Looking forward, attendees were updated on Florida's Medicaid Reform program. Directed by the Florida Legislature in 2005, the program seeks to create an environment where beneficiaries more actively participate in the management of their health care while choice of health care plans is expanded. The program also moves responsibility for the transportation of beneficiaries to health care providers. Currently transportation services are provided through a network of provider contracts through the Transportation Disadvantaged Coordination system.

Commissioner David Darn, Chair of the Commission closed the session challenging participants to look forward to their legacy for the future of Transportation Disadvantaged.

HART Awarded $8.7M in Federal Grants for CNG, Capital Infrastructure

(image and text courtesy of HART) 
HART received notice recently that it is the recipient of $8.7 million in competitive federal funding.

Approximately $4 million of U.S. Department of Transportation's Bus Livability Program funding will replace older diesel buses with new Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) powered buses. These vehicles will be the first CNG-powered vehicles in the system. HART's transition to CNG supports local sustainability initiatives, including the Hillsborough County Energy Management and Sustainability Work Group. The purpose of such efforts is to develop strategies that reduce dependence on petroleum and contribute to a healthier region.

Secondly, $4.7 million of funding from the U.S Department of Transportation's State of Good Repair Program will be used as part of the ongoing upgrade and modernization initiative for the HART Maintenance Facility, 4305 E. 21st Ave., Tampa, which is more than 40 years old.  

HART coordinated closely with the local congressional delegation on the applications for these funds, and greatly appreciates their continued and dedicated support towards improving public transit in this community.  

These types of competitive grants for capital projects will pay dividends to residents, businesses and most importantly, customers. In addition, maintaining and improving transit capital infrastructure is critical to HART, and ensuring safe and reliable service.    

For more information about HART Capital Projects, visit

Privately Funded Rail Project May Link Miami, Orlando 

(image courtesy of
Florida East Coast Industries announced that "All Aboard Florida" its $1 billion project to build a privately run passenger train service between Miami and Orlando is financially viable without any need for federal and state grants or subsidies and will begin operations by the end of 2014.

Construction would begin in early 2013 and when completed the new service would be the only privately run, non-subsidized passenger rail link between two major cities in the United States. A similar private scheme has been proposed in Texas to link Houston and Dallas.

The $1 billion cost includes a set of 10 diesel-powered trains with a 400-seat capacity offering an hourly service with First-class and Business-class seating, gourmet dining and Wi-Fi, as well as new tracks and stations in downtown Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and the Orlando airport.

The trains would make the journey in 3 hours 3 minutes traveling at speeds of up to 110 mph at a "cost competitive" price compared to the cheapest round-trip airfare of $140-160 or the roughly $120 cost of car travel.

FECI is owned by the Fortress Investment Group and currently operates a 351-mile (565-km) single-track freight rail system along Florida's east coast with a fleet of 85 diesel electric locomotives and 4,800 freight cars. It generated operating revenues of about $208 million last year.

FECI plans to double-track its existing line along a 100-foot wide corridor that runs most of the 230-mile route between Miami and Orlando, adding an extension for a section from the coast inland to Orlando. The company also owns 9 acres in the heart of downtown Miami, the site of the former Henry Flagler railroad station, named after the rail pioneer who built Florida's first east-coast railroad system 100 years ago linking Jacksonville to Key West.

The company is also examining the possibility of expansion to Tampa on Florida's west coast and Jacksonville in the northeast of the state.

For more information visit All Aboard Florida.

FDOT to Host Polk Rail Project Workshops on Sept 10, 11 and 13

The Florida Department of Transportation will conduct a series of workshops for the Polk Rail Project Development and Environment Study. Workshops will be hosted at the following dates and locations:
  • Monday, September 10, 2012 at the Lakeland Center, 701 West Lime Street, Lakeland Florida, 33815
  • Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at Fantasy of Flight, 1400 Broadway Blvd. S.E. Polk City, Florida, 33868
  • Thursday, September 13, 2012 at the Bartow Civic Center, 2250 South Floral Avenue Bartow, Florida, 33830
All workshops will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in an open house format allowing an opportunity to view the displays and discuss the project with project team representatives. A brief presentation will begin at 6 p.m. each evening. All workshops will be identical, including the schedule, format, presentation, and displays.

For further information contact Gwen Pipkin at or (863) 519-2375.