Transit eNews of the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)

and its Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board (TDCB) 

Issue 12 | June 2014



In this Issue

Tampa Bay BRT
Special needs prep for hurricane season!
Medicaid changes!
SouthShore Circulator update
Megabus brings intercity connections
TDSP update
Bus shelter upgrades
Marion St Transitway
HART summer pass
Dump the Pump on June 19th, Ride HART FREE!
Transit record breakers

Thank you!

In 2013, more than 3,500 of you weighed in on long-range strategies for

growth, development, and transportation in our interactive survey.

View the results of: Imagine 2040 : Part 1

We'll need your feedback on policy directions, transportation investments, and other key topics. Starting July 10th through September 1st -

Now is a great time to schedule us to visit your civic group, community association, or business team! Please contact Jackson Harris at 813.273.3774 x370.

Please join us for an
Imagine 2040 Working Group meeting at 5:00pm on June 12th! 
  • Preview Imagine 2040 : Part 2 
  • Hear how we're rolling out Part 2
  • Help us spread the word
  • Tell us what you think
New working group members are always welcome!

The meeting will be held on the 26th floor of County Center, 601 E Kennedy Boulevard.

Register for this meeting now by contacting Sandy Mortellaro at 813.273.3774 x314.

View the full notice.

Upcoming Meetings

Thursday, June 12  


Joint meeting of the Pinellas, Pasco & Hillsborough County Local Coordinating Boards

Imagine 2040 Working Group
(see above) 

Friday, June 13 

MPO CCC Public Hearing on MUT & TRIP priorties

Joint meeting of the
West Central Florida
MPO CCC & the
Central Florida
MPO Association
Monday, June 23 
Downtown Transit Assets & Opportunities Study Stakeholders meeting 
Friday, August 22

MPO Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board 

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

About TDCB button 


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MPO & FDOT plan for express buses in toll lanes   

Los Angeles Silver Line, source: LA Metro 


If you've ever wished for a helicopter to fly you over traffic snarls to your destination, the idea of a limited-stop express bus running in speed-controlled interstate toll lanes may appeal to you.  The Hillsborough MPO has partnered with FDOT District 7 to study how this big idea could work in the I-275 and I-4 corridors.  Conceptual plans for the express toll lanes are under development by FDOT.  The parallel transit study examines questions like:


  • Will there be easy access to park & ride lots?
  • What destinations would draw the most riders?
  • How much would a bus service like this cost?


Cities like Houston and San Diego found that when they built park & ride stations with speedy direct ramps to the express lanes, they couldn't keep up with the passenger demand.  Demand for express bus service has also grown significantly in Miami's I-95 corridor, where bus speed increased 300% after HOV lanes were converted to "HOT" Sunpass lanes and expanded.  


Here in Tampa, a limited-stop express bus service might travel I-275 from St Petersburg to Carillon, Westshore, Downtown Tampa, the USF area and Wesley Chapel, with stations close to the interstate where local bus routes connect. Public meetings on the concept will be held as part of FDOT's "Tampa Bay Express" toll lanes development planning process. Stay tuned for more info and public meeting dates, or contact Sarah McKinley, 813.273.3774 x382 to be placed on the MPO's contact list for the BRT in Tampa Bay Express Toll Lanes study.



Special needs prep for hurricane season

Hurricane Evacuation


In Hillsborough County,  Special Needs (Medical) Shelters provide temporary emergency facilities capable of providing care to residents whose medical conditions exceed the capabilities of a Red Cross Shelter, but not severe enough to require hospitalization. To make sure there are enough facilities to accommodate residents who need evacuation assistance to a special needs shelter, it is very important to register each year, preferably prior to the June 1st onset of hurricane season. If you need these services and have not yet registered, it is not too late! 

To register for a special needs shelter and/or transportation, select one of the following options:
  • Call the Hillsborough County Health Department at 813-307-8063
  • Call the Hillsborough County InfoLine at 813-272-5900, TTY 813-301-7173
  • Call your home health care provider
  • Complete an evaluation form (below) and fax to 813-276-8689 or mail to:
    Hillsborough County Health Department
    P.O. Box 5135
    Tampa, FL 33675-5135
  •  English form   
  •  Spanish form 

Here are some other great sources for useful information:

The Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management provides links to active storm info, the annual hurricane guide, the hurricane evacuation assessment tool, hurricane shelters, preparation & information, special needs, and transportation.

Also, during a hurricane evacuation, HART buses run special evacuation routes for people without alternative transportation to get to shelters on higher ground. Learn more about HART Emergency Evacuation Services. These routes
are provided to assist those who have no other options for getting to safety and are a critical lifeline.


Medicaid transportation changes!  


As of June1, in Hillsborough County, most transportation of Medicaid clients to non-emergency medical appointments will no longer be provided through a contract between the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged, and local for-hire vehicle operator MMG Transportation.  Under a new statewide policy, AHCA will work with managed-care organizations. In Hillsborough County Amerigroup, Better Health, Humana Medical Plan, Integral Quality Care, Prestige Health Choice, Staywell and Sunshine Health will provide all client services. These organizations will contract with transportation brokers operating in Florida.    


If you are a current Medicaid client of MMG Transportation and are now enrolled in a Medicaid Managed Care program, you must contact your managed-care provider, or their transportation broker, to request transportation. A counselor will assist you in selecting the plan that best meets your needs. To contact a choice counselor, go to or call 1-877-711-3662 to talk to a choice counselor.  You can also request an in-person visit from a choice counselor.


For more info, contact Michele Ogilvie at 813.273.3774 x371.



MPO endorses SouthShore circulators   


Last month, the Metropolitan Planning Organization approved the SouthShore Transit Circulator Study. A joint effort of the MPO and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART), the study recommends a combination of new routes and flex routes serving Riverview, Gibsonton, Apollo Beach, Ruskin, Sun City Center and Wimauma.

Specifically, two new two-way loops would operate on Gibsonton Drive, US Hwy 41, Big Bend Road, US Hwy 301, and SR 674. New flex route zones would be established along Gibsonton Drive and Big Bend Road, while the existing flex zone would be expanded along SR 674. The new and expanded routes would serve St. Joseph's Hospital, HCC, the Amazon distribution center, and other emerging destinations.

SouthShore is the fastest growing area in Hillsborough County, doubling its population in the past ten years and accounting for nearly half of the permits pulled in the unincorporated county. The MPO and HART focused on this area due to changing needs that accompany rapid growth. The recommendations endorsed by the MPO were based on a technical evaluation and input from the public.
The study is scheduled to be considered by the HART board of directors' Major Projects Committee and will be considered for funding in the Transit Development Plan.

View the SouthShore Transit Circulator Study report. For more information contact Sarah McKinley at 813.273.3774 x382.


Megabus brings intercity service


As of May 15, Tampa residents are now able to travel express to and from Miami and Orlando for as little as $1, from the HART Marion Transit Center (MTC). By making other connections residents gain access to 120 cities across the USA, dramatically expanding the intermodal system at MTC. That was made possible through a 5-year partnership agreement between HART and

Megabus will pay HART a fee per year for access to the newly expanded MTC Station. The additional revenue does not require any other resources or personnel, and HART plans to reinvest the funds to further enhance MTC. 
The partnership is just one more example of how HART is focused on attracting new ridership, fueling revenues, and enhancing service through strategic innovation. The HART intermodal approach strives to connect various modes of transportation such as walking, bicycling, and using the TECO Line Streetcar System, Park-n-Ride facilities, and paratransit system.


"The new service will make it possible for more than 142,000 travelers to visit Tampa during the first year alone," said Mike Alvich, VP of Marketing and Public Relations for Coach USA. "Customers can travel in approximately the same amount of time it would take to drive themselves, without the stress of being behind the wheel."   


For more information, contact HART at 813.254.4278 or visit



Hillsborough to have 600,000 transportation disadvantaged by 2040    


The MPO has almost completed the 2014 Transportation Disadvantaged Service Plan (TDSP) for Hillsborough County.  The Plan is updated each year to ensure that programs and services keep pace with the needs of the elderly, disabled and low income populations who cannot transport themselves. A combination of the County's Sunshine Line and private contractors provide curb to curb service. 


This year's update, for example, forecasts that Hillsborough County's TD population will reach 591,664 people by 2040. This will generate more than a million additional trips and require the Sunshine Line grow by an additional 28 vehicles by 2040.  The Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board oversees the TDSP and implementation of services. The Board has asked that this year's update includes the costs of providing additional Priority IV trips, to include work, education and recreation trips.


The Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board will review the TDSP at their June 27th meeting.  For more information contact Michele Ogilvie at 813.273.3774 x317 or



HART has you covered


HART is fully committed to its progressive Bus Stop Improvement Program, which will make all bus stops ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant; not just for someone in a wheelchair, but anyone with any kind of mobility device. For the past couple of years, a route-by-route assessment has been underway for all of the agency's approximately 3,200 bus stops and 681 shelters to ensure they comply with these standards. Sites scheduled for improvements are chosen based on ridership activity and demand, proximity to other nearby covered stops, adequate right-of-way, opportunities to sell advertisements, and planned neighborhood improvements.

This improvement program also provides all riders with enhanced passenger amenities such as, bus bays, new sidewalks and shelters to help protect customers from the rain and hot sunshine. This is especially significant since 55.3% of HART riders board at shelters. The new shelters are lit by solar power, saving taxpayer money on electrical costs and making them environmentally friendly. By using solar power the authority's energy savings will return the cost of investment while enjoying increased safety, less maintenance, and a smaller carbon footprint!

Meanwhile, HART has already tripled the number of covered stops from one shelter for every 15 stops to one shelter for every five stops.
The latest installation completed was placement of a bus bay on Fowler Avenue and 53rd Street in the City of Temple Terrace. To match the city's Mediterranean-style theme it was given a custom Spanish-tiled roof. The installation also includes stand-alone seating to accommodate the high volume of patrons using this stop. Also completed were bus bay projects on the south side of Progress Boulevard east of I-75 at Valley Dale Drive in front of Villages of Bloomingdale Apartments and MLK Jr. Boulevard and Interstate Corporate Center just west of I-4.


The Bus Stop Improvement Program is supported by federal funding, as well as local impact fees. In addition, this program is driven by partnerships. An advertising contract with Signal Outdoor, for instance, helps offset shelter costs. Signal Outdoor pays for shelters and their maintenance, in exchange for shared advertising revenue. HART also engages with private developers, local government, and the Florida Department of Transportation for opportunities to obtain land easements or offset construction cost.

Funding sought for Marion St transitway 


HART is requesting $10,000,000 from the U.S. DOT in TIGER discretionary funds for the Marion Street Transitway Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project. This project will enhance the 'livability' of the Transitway for all modes of transportation for the continued growth of Downtown Tampa.

If funded, the project will lead to:  
  • Stop Consolidation and Spacing. By reducing the total number of stops and spacing stops to allow buses to pass, bus speeds can increase, and passenger amenities can be concentrated in fewer locations.
  • Stop Assignment and Ticket Vending to speed up boarding and improve passenger access to the system.  
  • New, more transparent and well-lit shelters, with a full complement of passenger amenities and information to provide greater levels of comfort and a stronger sense of safety and security.
  • New Streetscapes, including upgraded sidewalks, better lighting, enhanced landscaping, and fixing pavement deficiencies, so that both transit patrons and pedestrians can enjoy a quality environment and improved north-south connections through the heart of downtown.

This goal is to maximize service, attract higher levels of ridership, serve new transit markets, improve the transit patrons' experience, and contribute to the continued revitalization and regeneration of Tampa's urban core. The federal funds will be matched with local funds In the amount of $2,500,000 bringing the total project cost to $12,500,000.


For more information, contact HART Public Information Officer Sandra Morrison at 813.384.6610.


HART's summer blast pass is back!     


For only $30, you can have freedom, and your kids can have some independence. The Summer Blast Pass allows kids 5-17 to have unlimited rides on HART service* from May 13 to August 31 for just $30! To pick up your Summer Blast Pass, stop by one of these HART locations:

  • Downtown: HART on Franklin (limited hours) or at the Marion Transit Center
  • University Area: University Area Transit Center on 27th Street
  • HART Administrative Offices on 7th Avenue in Ybor
*The HART Summer Blast Pass is not valid on HARTPlus, Express service and the TECO Line Streetcar

For more information, contact HART at 813.254.4278.



Exchange your gas receipt for a FREE HART 1-Day pass on June 19th!    


HART will join public transportation agencies across the country in the 9th Annual National Dump the Pump Day on June 19 by offering a free 1-Day Pass incentive to Tampa area riders. Customers can claim a free 1-Day Unlimited Pass, for use that day, in exchange for a gas receipt dated from May 1, 2014 or later.  All the customer has to do is provide the Bus Operator a gas receipt when boarding the vehicle. The offer is valid on all of HART Local, Express, Limited Express, MetroRapid, In-Town Trolley, and HARTFlex routes. 
For more information, contact HART at 813.254.4278.


TBARTA launches myRIDE this summer    


Finding transportation options can be difficult, especially when you have special requirements. Do you know where to get that information?


With TBARTA's myRIDE service, you can explore over 200 local and regional providers of transportation services - from on-demand medical transport to wheelchair-accessible vans with just one call or one click. Listings also include local bus systems, and options for statewide travel.


The myRIDE service is made possible by a federal grant from the Veterans Administration (VA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The goal is to ease access to the information available to veterans and military families, but myRIDE will be available to everyone, free. Look for more announcements and information about myRIDE in the coming weeks.


For more information, contact Alex English at TBARTA at 813.282.8200.    



Tampa among record-breaking cities   


2013 was a very good year for transit in the U.S., and Tampa was among a select group of cities reporting record ridership in 2013.  Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation in 2013, which is the highest annual public transit ridership number in 57 years, according to a report by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This was the eighth year in a row that more than 10 billion trips were taken on public transportation systems nationwide.  While vehicle miles traveled on roads (VMT) went up 0.3%, public transportation use in 2013 increased by 1.1%.

Some of the public transit agencies reporting record ridership system-wide or on specific lines were located in the following cities:  Ann Arbor, MI; Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; Espanola, NM; Flagstaff, AZ; Fort Myers, FL; Indianapolis, IN; Los Angeles, CA; New Orleans, LA; Oakland, CA; Pompano Beach, FL; Riverside, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; San Carlos, CA;
Tampa, FL; Yuma, AZ; and  New York, NY.

Since 1995 public transit ridership is up 37.2%, outpacing population growth, which is up 20.3%, and vehicle miles traveled (VMT), which is up 22.7%. "There is a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities.  People in record numbers are demanding more public transit services and communities are benefiting with strong economic growth," said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.


For further information view the full APTA article by Virginia Miller or the APTA 2013 Ridership Report or contact Virginia Miller at


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