Transit eNews of the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)

and its Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board (TDCB) 

Issue 9 | September 2013



In this Issue

Imagine 2040
Regional Transportation Summit
Sunshine Line wins CTC 2013
CEOs on public transit
High speed ferry
HART OneBusAway
Regional Commuting
Metrorapid increases ridership
First SunRail can arrives

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Upcoming Meetings

Tuesday, Sept 4
9:00 a.m
MPO Board Meeting

Wednesday, Sept 11 
1:15 p.m.
MPO Citizens Advisory Committee Meeting

5:30 p.m. 
MPO Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee

Monday, Sept 17
1:30 p.m.
MPO Technical Advisory
Committee Meeting

Wednesday, Sept 18 
9:00 a.m. 
MPO Livable 
Roadways Committee
Monday, Sept 16 
6:00 p.m.
Transportation for Economic Development Policy Initiative
Public Meeting

Thursday, Oct 10 
9:30 a.m.
Tampa Bay Regional Transportation Summit 

For more details
and agenda packets
(available one week prior
to each meeting), visit:

Help design Hillsborough's ideal future   


Do you care about our community's future but don't know how you can make a difference? We make it easy to help design Hillsborough's ideal future.


We're inviting anyone who lives, works, or plays in Hillsborough County to use an online game-style survey designed to interactively rate and comment on a variety of strategies to best meet our needs today and into the future.


Visit any time before October 20.


Another way easy way to get involved is to schedule a presentation. We'll be happy to bring Imagine 2040 to you. Simply contact us at or 813-272-5940 and we'll arrange a presentation for your group or organization. Our Imagine 2040 "road show" runs only through October 20th, so don't delay if you're thinking about a presentation.


Or host a "Meeting in a Box." Community groups, neighborhood associations, co-workers, or friends can meet on their own to share opinions about the future of our community. We provide the materials and you run the event, gather input, and send the results back to us. The "Meeting in a Box" kit has everything needed to hold your own 30-minute discussion including instructions, discussion questions, worksheets for participant responses, the Imagine 2040 paper-based survey, and directions for recording and returning responses.  


If you don't have access to a computer or the Internet, visit a nearby kiosk. We have several Imagine 2040 Kiosks on tour throughout the county for you to take the interactive survey to show us how and where you think we should grow. For the complete listing of Imagine 2040 Kiosk locations and dates, visit or call 813-272-5940.


The vision you help design now will guide the plans that are the roadmap to the future: the 2040 Transportation Plan and the four 2040 Comprehensive Plans for Tampa, Temple Terrace, Plant City and Hillsborough County.


Contact Rich Clarendon at or 813-273-3774 x 368 for more information.




Regional Transportation Summit Oct 10  

Thursday, October 10, 2013 | 9:30-Noon 

Tampa Airport Marriott Ballroom  

Join regional MPO and transit leaders to gain a better understanding of major
transportation developments in Central Florida and the Tampa Bay region, and how emerging plans for connectivity and transit in Tampa Bay may affect our ability to connect and develop as a Super Region.

  • Congressman John Mica, video address to MPO leaders and guests
  • All Aboard Florida, Florida East Coast Industries' proposed intercity rail service between Orlando and Miami
  • SunRail, Central Florida's New Commuter Rail Line Scheduled to Open in 2014
  • FDOT District 7 Secretary Paul Steinman
  • Updates on transit initiatives in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Pasco and Manatee-Sarasota counties
  • Discussion on how we can leverage regional projects to move the Tampa Bay region forward

Convened by the MPOs of Tampa Bay's Transportation Management Area (Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties)

Seating is limited. Please RSVP by October 1 to:



Sunshine Line named best transportation coordinator 

Hillsborough County's Sunshine Line was recognized by the Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged as Florida's  Urban Community Transportation Coordinator (CTC) of the Year earlier this month. The Sunshine Line is the door-to-door paratransit service operated by the Board of County Commissioners.

The Commission designates a CTC for each county in Florida.  CTCs are responsible for arranging transportation for the elderly, persons with disabilities and the needy who cannot transport themselves.

The Sunshine Line was recognized for its high customer satisfaction and high quality service.

Other accomplishments recognized by the Commission included the 17,000 trips for provided by the Sunshine Line for job training and employment for persons with disabilities, and providing 200,000 door to door trips annually to clients to get to medical facilities, aging services daycare, and Senior Nutrition sites.

Additionally,the CTC provided 75,000 bus pass tickets at no charge to the needy who are eligible for service.

View more information on the Hillsborough Sunshine Line.


CEOs & the public debate better transportation  



The potential for major local transportation improvements is back in the news as Tampa, Plant City, Temple Terrace, and HART joined County Commissioners to explore how to position Hillsborough County to successfully compete in the marketplace to attract and retain jobs. Coupled with updates to all four local comprehensive plans and the upcoming update to the MPO's Long Range Transportation Plan, the Transportation for Economic Development initiative reflects the first major cross-jurisdictional effort on transportation since voters turned down a sales tax referendum three years ago.


A Policy Leadership Group made up of County Commissioners, mayors and HART board chair has accepted the challenge of building consensus on solutions.  


Recent presentations by business representatives and site selection firms, and the first of a series of public forums show perspectives on the issue differ widely. Some local CEOs said that mass transit is crucial to recruiting companies and attracting talented young professionals.  Other business executives asserted that proximity to markets and customers is their top concern and transit is less important.     

Citizens echoed these arguments in a public forum sponsored by the Policy Leadership Group on August 6th. More than 150 people attended, and various speakers pointed out how reliant we are on autos. Others commented on the difficulty in getting around by public transportation. Transit opponents, on the other hand, stressed that voters turned down a half cent sales tax for transportation in a referendum held three years ago.    


Unlike prior efforts, the current initiative is focused on how transportation can support economic development. Funding decisions for transportation solutions will come later in the process and are expected to reflect a variety of methods and sources.


Another public meeting on the Transportation for Economic Development initiative will be held at 6 PM on September 16th at King High School, 6815 North 56th Street, Tampa.


The Policy Leadership Group is slated to meet again at 1:30 PM on September 25th on the 26th floor of County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., in downtown Tampa.


Contact Eric Johnson at 272-6582 for more information.






High speed ferry on the horizon

Last month the Hillsborough MPO endorsed a high speed passenger ferry as a priority project. If funded as part of the MPO's 2040 Plan, the ferry could be carrying commuters between Southshore and MacDill Air Force Base within the next several years.


HMS Ferries, Inc. and Akerman Senterfitt are working with the County to establish a public-private partnership for high speed passenger ferry service. This is a rare opportunity for the county, in that a private entity is willing to take on operational risk for a new public transport service benefiting residents.


Recent feasibility studies have shown that a ferry has the potential to provide commuter trips at costs comparable or less than express bus service. It has the potential to provide a competitive service for the given target market. No fatal flaws have been identified; regional stakeholders support the idea, potential terminals have been identified, and the waterways have sufficient capacity.


Ridership estimates suggest there is demand for the service. Depending on frequency and fare, up to 600 daily riders have been estimated, based on surveys.

Image courtesy of of   


View more information or contact Beth Alden at 813-272-5940 or





HART app answers question: Where's my bus?

hart logo one bus away logo


HART recently launched a much-anticipated free app called OneBusAway Tampa. The app delivers up-to-the-minute details to transit riders, using GPS technology to tell them exactly where their bus is and if it is running on time.


Sheryl Laxson, who has used HART for many years as her main source of transportation, volunteered to help test the app during the pilot program phase. "The link that I was given to download OneBusAway worked great," reports Laxson. "I also was able to go to Google Play on my tablet and easily found and downloaded the app for that device." She says the app was especially useful during recent thunderstorms because if her bus was delayed she could seek shelter indoors. "The app takes some of the guesswork out of situations where the bus may be stuck in traffic, there's a detour, or is just running a little late," Laxson explains.  


Local worker and student Christopher Guerrero also tested the app. "It allows for individuals to better schedule their time," he says. In fact, the first time Guerrero used the app, it told him he had three minutes to catch his bus. He hurried to his stop, got there in time, and saved a full 30 minutes on his commute that day.


OneBusAway Tampa has also improved call response times at HART. When a customer calls in to inquire "Where is my bus?" they can now get an answer within a matter of seconds. Customer service does not have to interrupt dispatch by calling them, so efficiency and service are both significantly enhanced. But once the app is launched to the public, HART patrons will have direct individual access to this real-time bus location data.    

Information provided courtesy of HART. Call 813-623-5835 for more information. 




Regional Commuting Made Easy 



Carpool (n.): an arrangement among a group of automobile owners by which each owner in turn drives the others or their children to and from a designated place.  

TBARTA, the regional transportation authority for the Tampa Bay Area, operates and provides assistance for those wanting to share trips, a.k.a. carpoolers, as well as those in a van (vanpoolers), on bikes (bike buddies), and parents wanting to share trips to their students' school (school pool).


Using an online profile, users receive an instant match list of other commuters with similar trips. From that point, they can coordinate their travel. By car, this saves money, removes cars and pollution from the road, and makes commuting more social. By bike, it can also provide better 'safety in numbers.'


For vanpooling, TBARTA provides the van, matches commuters, and tracks costs with a full-time dedicated employee.


To sweeten the deal, a federal subsidy that pays for gas and other costs associated with driving is also available to anyone sharing the ride to and from work. TBARTA also provides a sort of commuter's insurance plan: if an unexpected emergency arises, trip sharers can get a free taxi ride home, up to four times a year. On average, ride-sharing can save a commuter $1,500 a year.


For parents and students, TBARTA has a Regional School Commute Program. This arrangement is with specific schools around Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties, where students travel longer distances, like at magnet or fundamental schools. Parents follow the same process as other commuters, with an online profile and match list of other parents at their school.


All information collected by TBARTA is confidential and securely stored.


To learn more about TBARTA's Commuter Services, visit There you can get started, and check to see if your student's school is already participating in the School Program. If it isn't, talk to your school's principal about joining!




MetroRapid fuels ridership gains  



MetroRapid North-South bus service has proven to be a success. The service began full operations on June 10. In August, less than 90 days from its launch, HART announced that the area's first rapid transit bus line has exceeded ridership expectations.

Since opening, MetroRapid ridership has nearly doubled - averaging 1,929 daily riders in June - with the numbers still growing. HART anticipates a surge of riders as students resume their schedules at Hillsborough County Schools and the University of South Florida.


"This type of success and ridership gain is a continued testimony to the value that HART brings to Hillsborough County," remarked HART Chief Executive Officer Philip Hale. "We hear all the time that people want more transit service and this is being demonstrated by more people taking advantage of the affordable cost and convenience of our service." 


Overall bus ridership was 1,116,000 trips during the month of June, a 1.3 percent increase over June 2012. June 3 saw the greatest daily ridership throughout the month with 53,195 riders choosing HART!


Year-to-date (October 2012 - June 2013), bus ridership is up 2.6 percent; an increase of 277,894 trips, compared to the same period last year. Bus ridership for fiscal year 2013 is on its way to surpassing 14.2 million from last year. HART is on track for exceeding its annual target for ridership with approximately 14.5 million riders this year, which would be the fourth straight year of record ridership for HART.


"This type of ridership gain is a continued testimony to the value that HART brings to Hillsborough County," explained Mr. Hale. "We've had a great opportunity to introduce new customers to the system, and we are pleased that more people are taking advantage of the affordable cost and convenience of our service."


Information courtesy of HART. For more information, visit




First SunRail cab arrives in Central Florida    



Nine months before the SunRail commuter line begins service from DeBary to Orlando, the first cab car has arrived in Central Florida.


The cab was built by Bombardier Inc., in Plattsburg, N.Y., and arrived by freight train this week at the SunRail Operations Control facility in Sanford, said Florida Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Olson.


SunRail has ordered nine cabs at a cost of about $3 million each for the initial phase, which will link DeBary to Sand Lake Road in south Orlando starting in May 2014.


The DeBary station, the only one in Volusia County under construction for the initial phase, is about 70-percent complete.


DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia said he's glad to see the arrival of the cab car and the progress of construction. But he's frustrated that more development hasn't begun appearing around the station at U.S. 17-92 and Fort Florida Road.


City officials have expressed interest in a mix of commercial and residential development there.


Article and photo courtesy of the Daytona Beach News Journal

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