Transit eNews of the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)

and its Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board (TDCB) 

Issue 16 | June 2015


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In this Issue

Upcoming Events

June 26 
9:30 am
Meeting of the
Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board

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

MPO Meeting Calendar 
July 18  
9:30 am - 2:00 pm
Americans With Disabilities Act 25th Anniversary Celebration
Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI)
4801 East Fowler Avenue
Tampa, FL

Disabilities Awareness Expo, Hands-on Exhibits, Awards Ceremony, Door Prizes, Refreshments & more!

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MPO planning recognized for improving community health 


Did you know the cost of medical care for chronic disease from obesity is estimated at $34 billion over the next 17 years in Florida? County and municipal governments play an important role in decreasing the prevalence of unhealthy weight in their jurisdictions. A variety of policies implemented by local governments have shown an increase in physical activity and improved nutrition.


In 2015, the Florida Department of Health is recognizing 65 communities as Healthy Weight Community Champions. "Health improves in communities through local solutions," said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong. "The number of recognized communities has almost doubled from the 2014 recognition cycle which demonstrates a growing commitment among local governments to make Florida a healthy place to live, work and play."

The Hillsborough MPO was recognized this year for: 
  • Working with neighboring counties to incrementally create a regional system of multi-use trails, focusing in recent years on feasibility studies of specific corridors to fill gaps in the network
  • Using a 'latent demand' methodology for identifying high-priority connections where people would be likely to bicycle if safe facilities were available, leading to many bike lanes and paved shoulders in Hillsborough County and the Cities of Tampa and Temple Terrace
  • Setting aside funds in the long range transportation plan specifically for implementing crash reduction treatments, including for walk/bike crashes


In addition, Hillsborough County and our Cities have created Community Redevelopment Areas to support redevelopment activities that will bring additional services, like supermarkets, to under-served neighborhoods. The City of Tampa was also recognized for:


  • The City's Complete Streets Resolution
  • Operating over 3,500 acres of park land with 170+ parks, 23 community centers, 14 aquatic facilities, and over 60 miles of multi-purpose trails
  • Installing Coast Bike Share
  • Providing funding for roundabouts, speed bumps, pedestrian refuge islands, and radar feedback signs to improve pedestrian safety


We look forward to continuing to work with our local governments and planning partners towards healthier, even more vibrant communities.



Coming soon to a corridor near you!


At its June 2nd meeting, the MPO held a public hearing before adopting a $1.4 billion Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The TIP funds a wide variety of projects over the next five years and begins to realize the MPO's 2040 Plan.


Public transit and rideshare improvements are an important part of the TIP, including:


  • Replacing older buses in HART's fleet with CNG fueled vehicles
  • Providing vans for the regional vanpool programs
  • Continuing two cross county express bus routes to Clearwater and Wesley Chapel
  • Funding assistance from federal grants for bus and share-a-van services


The TIP also includes major projects to add roadway capacity for a growing economy, such as:

  • Widening Bruce B Downs Blvd from 4 to 6 lanes from Pebble Creek Dr to Pasco County (2015)
  • Widening US 301 from 2 to 6 lanes from SR 674 to Balm Rd (2016)
  • Interchange improvements, including:
    • I-275 / Memorial Hwy (SR 60) and I-275 / I-4 in downtown Tampa, purchase right-of-way for future widening
    • I-75 / I-4 construction of northbound ramp (2016)
The 2040 Plan highlights the need to preserve and renew our existing transportation assets, so the TIP advances projects like rehabbing the Hillsborough Ave Bridge over the Hillsborough River in 2016, and resurfacing:
  • I-4 from 50th St to McIntosh Rd (2018)
  • Florida Ave from Sligh Ave to River Shore Dr (2016)
  • E Hillsborough Ave from N Miami Ave to 56th St (2018)

Reducing crashes and vulnerability to flooding are among the MPO's highest priorities, and the TIP will fund safety and drainage projects on:

  • Bougainvillea Ave walk/bike safety improvements from 30th to 46th St (2016)
  • Sidewalks at Stowers, Summerfield, Eisenhower, Cypress Creek elementary schools (2018 and later)
  • Drainage improvements on Dale Mabry, Gandy, Hillsborough, Kennedy, and US 301 (2016)
The TIP also funds projects to minimize traffic for drivers and shippers such as:
  • Intelligent Freeway Management Systems on Courtney Campbell Causeway (2017) and I-75 from Progress Village to Manatee County (2019)
  • Advanced Traffic Management System deploying smart signal technology at over 500 intersections in the City of Tampa (2017 through 2020)
The adopted TIP goes into effect on October 1st of this year and includes all state and federally funded projects through September 30, 2020. It also lists all locally funded transportation projects. More information is available at TIP Program or by contacting Rich Clarendon.

TBARTA Master Plan update for 2015   


In order to align efforts and prevent duplication, TBARTA has joined together with the West Central Florida MPO Chairs Coordinating Committee (CCC) to create a combined regional master plan and regional long range transportation plan. The TBARTA 2040 regional network maps and projects now are based on the five MPOs' long range cost feasible transportation plans, and the LRTPs' Needs are illustrated in the TBARTA Longer Range Needs network maps. TBARTA has also identified near term funding priorities.


What results is better cohesion-one region, one plan, one voice- so that from every angle, Tampa Bay area leaders are on the same page when it comes to the future of transportation. This helps state and federal legislators better understand which projects are most important to the residents and businesses of the region, and in turn, allocate funding.


The TBARTA Board is expected to adopt the 2015 Master Plan on June 12. Please review the draft maps and provide your comments before the June 12th meeting.  



Hurricane season important reminders

Hurricane Evacuation


Residents with special needs, the elderly, and those without transportation require extra attention in order to stay safe during a tropical storm or hurricane. Hillsborough County has programs in place to help these residents prepare and find safe shelter. 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! 

A special needs shelter is a temporary emergency facility capable of providing care to residents whose medical condition may require the use of electrical equipment, oxygen, dialysis, or individuals with physical, cognitive, or medical conditions who may require assistance from medical professionals. Although special needs shelters provide more care than a general shelter, they do not provide the level of care found in a medical facility.

If you apply for a special needs shelter, you will be asked about your transportation plans. If you need a ride to a shelter, arrangements will be made with Sunshine Line to pick you up and take you to your assigned shelter.

In order to be admitted to a special needs shelter you will need to complete an evaluation form prior to an emergency and meet certain eligibility requirements. Once you have completed the evaluation form, you will be contacted for more information and your medical needs and eligibility will be assessed.

You can get assistance or register for a special needs shelter and/or transportation assistance using 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.

Where's the bus? There's an app for that


Two years ago HART launched the revolutionary OneBusAway app that delivers real-time bus arrival information directly to a customer's smart phone, computer, or other Wi-Fi enabled device. The system is accessed more than 200,000 times every month. Now the system has upgraded to include a touchtone feature allowing riders to get real-time information from a regular phone. 

The new touchtone feature allows access to OneBusAway from a landline or a basic cell phone, even one without a data plan. That means no data charges or extra fees from phone carriers for texting, and it is an ideal solution for anyone with a visual impairment. Just call 813/452-4OBA (4622).  

As HART Chief Executive Officer Katharine Eagan explains, "This will truly enhance the rider's experience, because they'll have the answers they need right at their fingertips." Learn more about the OneBusAway app, text message, and touchtone features.



HART Summer Blast Pass is back! 


School's out, and the HART Summer Blast Pass is the kids' ticket to freedom this summer! The Summer Blast Pass offers kids ages 5 - 18 unlimited rides on HART Local, Limited Express, MetroRapid, In-Town Trolley, and HARTFlex routes from May 11 - August 31, for just $30!     


Purchase your Summer Blast Pass at:

  • Marion Transit Center, 1211 N Marion St in Downtown Tampa, Monday - Friday, 6a - 6p and Saturday, 7a - 5p
  • HART at City Hall, 306 E Jackson St in Downtown Tampa, Monday & Friday only, 11a - 1p
  • HART Administrative Offices, 1201 7th Ave in Ybor City, Monday - Friday, 8a - 5p
  • University Area Transit Center, 13110 N 27th St in Tampa, Monday - Friday, 6a - 5p and Saturday, 7a - 5p
HART Summer Blast Pass is not valid for use on HARTPlus, Express service, and the TECO Line Streetcar System. Users 12 and younger must have an adult traveling with them.



62 consecutive months of a million plus!   



HART continues to celebrate ridership growth. April 2015 brought 1,255,932 trips, marking 62 consecutive months of a million-plus bus rides! February 2010 was the last month with under one million rides. This continues a strong upward ridership trend for HART, with a fifth straight year of record ridership. It's time to join in on the celebration, get information at and get on board!



A life framed by love for community 


It is with heavy heart that we share the passing of Anne Madden on May 28, 2015. Following her service to our country in the military, Anne continued to serve as an advocate of the SouthShore community and all of Hillsborough County as a member of numerous civic and county organizations. She was the owner of Frame Crafters and the Blue Ibis Art Gallery in Ruskin for 16 years.


Anne proudly served as a Planning Commissioner from 2001 to 2005, representing them on the MPO Board. An active participant in each planning initiative for the SouthShore area, she was involved in local community plans and most recently a transit circulator study. Eager to share her passion for planning with her local community, she beamed when interactive planning displays were represented at local events like the Family Salsa Festival, Seafood Festival, and Ruskin Tomato Festival. As a HART Board Member from 2011 to 2014, Anne was a champion of collaboration among the different agencies. She also served on the Citizens Advisory Committee of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, the SouthShore Arts Council, and on the Board of Directors of the SouthShore Roundtable and the South Bay Hospital.


We will greatly miss her smiling eyes, sense of humor, warm heart, and passion for art, children, the disadvantaged, and planning for a brighter future. We are quite certain this community is a more beautiful place, because of the legacy Anne Madden has left for future generations. Thank you! 



FDOT kicks in $1 million to plan streetcar expansion 

Teco Streetcar Line Whiting Street Extension

Richard Danielson, Times Staff writer 

Published April, 22, 2015 


The Florida Department of Transportation has committed $1 million to help City Hall figure out how to expand Tampa's underused and underfunded downtown streetcar. "We've got to fix the streetcar," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said in a recent interview. "We can maintain the status quo for a while. The larger issue is, what do we do with it? What are the future expansion plans? What's the route? How do you pay for it?"

Those questions have gained urgency because of Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik's $1 billion planned redevelopment around Amalie Arena. Vinik's development team has been working with the city on potential changes to the streetcar in the hope of seeing an expanded trolley line move workers, sports fans and residents around downtown. Vinik's plans elevate the streetcar's potential and create what Buckhorn calls "a rare economic opportunity."

The FDOT agrees. "We share your viewpoint that a strategic streetcar extension has the potential of being a viable transportation option to support the continuing growth within Tampa's urban core," FDOT District 7 Secretary Paul Steinman said in a letter delivered last week.

Buckhorn said the city will put in $250,000 for a jointly funded feasibility study. The study will consider extending the streetcar's route north to Tampa Heights. The city and state have to focus the study's goals and agree on its schedule, but officials expect it to address construction and operating costs, ridership projections, environmental impacts and the streetcar's potential to stimulate development along the route. "The route is critical," Buckhorn said. "The route will dictate what the cost is."

The engineering firm HDR has estimated the costs of expanding the streetcar at $30 million to $60 million. That does not include $2.5 million for needed capital maintenance or another $60 million that would be needed to modernize the streetcar.
Buckhorn told Steinman that the city is working to refine the costs and identify both benefits and challenges that go with various alternatives for expansion. That will include pursuing federal funds to aid in construction, city officials said. In the future, Buckhorn anticipates that the city could request state funds to help with the project's capital and operating costs.

"I will try and spread the love," he said. "We can't be asked to bear this entire burden." The city also expects to ask for the FDOT's help working with CSX railroad on two key issues. One, the city wants to negotiate for a streetcar crossing at Polk Street. Also, the city hopes to end a $400,000 insurance premium the streetcar line must pay every year to maintain a $100 million liability policy required by CSX because the trolley crosses its tracks in Ybor City.

"It's great to hear that they're going to partner with the city on this," said mass transit advocate and Hillsborough County Commission candidate Brian Willis, who has criticized the FDOT for pursuing a multibillion plan to add tolled express lanes to the area's interstates instead of focusing on improved bus and other transit options or projects to make roads safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.


More information about the TECO Historic Streetcar.



Tampa area ranked 11th in nation for traffic congestion    

Yvette C. Hammett | Tribune Staff 

Published March 21, 2015  


During afternoon rush hour, 53 percent of commuters in the Tampa metro area are mired in gridlock. In the mornings, 34 percent sit in traffic. This region ranks 11th in the nation for congestion, according to the 2014 TomTom Traffic Index released Tuesday.  


Using commuter information gleaned from car and truck GPS systems and smart phone apps, TomTom, a leading manufacturer of car navigation systems, gathers data for various times of the 24-hour period to determine when people are stuck in traffic and for how long. Using those parameters, the index rates Tampa 84th on the planet for congestion.

Miami is the only Florida metro area ranked higher for congestion, coming in at 7th.


The study area for Tampa runs from Interstate 75 on the east to the Gulf of Mexico on the west. The annual Traffic Index prepared by Amsterdam-based TomTom International BV, measures the impact traffic congestion has on over 200 cities around the world, helping drivers, businesses and governments better manage the gridlock.


The TomTom study reveals that evening rush hour is the worst time of the day to travel on every road network worldwide. Tampa is no exception. If a commuter takes 30 minutes to get to work in the morning here, it will likely take at least 45  

minutes to get back home during peak hours. The TomTom ranking for the Tampa metro area - the 18th largest metropolitan statistical area in the nation, based on 2014 population data - is no surprise to local officials struggling to tackle the shortfalls of the Hillsborough County transportation system.


"Congestion costs us time, money and quality of life," said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "And when corporations look to the Tampa Bay area as a potential site for relocation, they go through an extensive metrics system of the strengths and weaknesses of a community from schools to tax structure, to quality of life. Tampa always falls short in an otherwise pretty competitive report card in the area of transportation.


"We can stick our head in the sand and pretend it is going to fix itself, magically. It's not," Buckhorn said. "Transportation hasn't been funded adequately for decades and it has caught up to us."

The Transportation Policy Leadership Group, made up of all seven Hillsborough County Commissioners and the mayors of Tampa, Plant City and Temple Terrace, is marketing a plan to maintain and expand roadways and bridges, build a more robust county bus system that could include express bus service and maybe even add light rail, including an upgraded downtown streetcar system.


To build a case for approval, the PLG is holding a series of open meetings throughout the county called GO Hillsborough, to present the proposal. The group is considering placing a referendum on the ballot in 2016 for a penny sales tax increase to fund the plan. The sales tax increase would raise about $6 billion over 30 years. Acknowledging that a new penny sales tax is no slam dunk, the county's Metropolitan Planning Organization, nevertheless, approved its 20-year long-range transportation plan in November that included an aggressive upgrade plan. But it noted that funding is still an unresolved matter.


Trust is a huge issue in determining the fate of future transportation here, said community activist Terry Flott, who lives in Seffner and often travels downtown through rush-hour traffic to get to government meetings. "A lot of people are openly supporting the plan, but I don't think people trust the government enough at this point to say what they will do," when they go to the polls, Flott said. "It's all going to boil down to a vote of trust," she said, "but people don't trust government to do the right thing, to have a plan and stick to it."


The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce hasn't committed to the PLG plan, but it is concerned with finding the best transportation alternatives for area businesses and their employees, said Tampa architect Mickey Jacob, who co-chairs the chamber's transportation council and also sits on the board for the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority.

"We are still looking at options and doing our research," Jacob said. "The GO Hillsborough public presentations are just a small representative group, especially when you consider the business community. We need to make sure we are getting good information to disseminate to our members."


Doing nothing is not an option, Buckhorn said. "We can address the trust issue by laying out how the money is going to be spent, where it is going to be spent and the conditions upon which it will be spent. People need to recognize we're all in this together. Even if you aren't getting the sidewalk fixed in front of your house, you are getting the intersection a mile away fixed and that is going to impact your life."


Meanwhile, TomTom Senior Traffic Expert Nick Cohn said there are a few things commuters can do to ease the burden of congestion and snatch back some of that lost time.

"There is something I see in your network that we see in a lot of American cities," Cohn said. "It looks like people use the same main routes, not detouring on to parallel arterial roads to save travel time. One of the reasons we publish this report is to encourage drivers to think about their daily trips and save some of that lost time." One option is to use real-time traffic information available with some GPS systems. Commuters can also consider traveling at off-peak times using a flexible work schedule. He said that not only makes their commute better, but also the drive for those who have to hit the road during peak hours.


A good deal of the afternoon congestion in this area occurs in Brandon on State Road 60 and Bloomingdale Avenue, with hundreds traveling east, heading home from jobs in Tampa. Cohn said most of those areas are not included in the traffic index this year, but may be in future years. "I can see they have big delays on a daily basis. One of the things we noticed in Tampa is that the worst areas aren't just the freeways," Cohn said. "It's arterials that are really challenged, to put it politely," on roads like Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa and East Bay Drive in Clearwater.  


It could always be worse, he said. "Everyone in Tampa should be happy they are in Tampa and not in Moscow or Mexico City, but that's not much of a comfort." Los Angeles is the only American city to make the traffic index top 10 for congestion worldwide, Cohn said. Istanbul, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro rank first through third for congestion globally. In the U.S., Los Angeles ranks first with the worst congestion, followed by San Francisco and Honolulu.  

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