Transit eNews of the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)

and its Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board (TDCB) 

Issue 20 | September 2016


ePublications & eNews from our agency are always associated with an email address ending in:


In this Issue

Upcoming Events

September Meetings 
SEPT 6 - MPO Board
SEPT 20 - Policy

County Center
601 E Kennedy Blvd
Downtown Tampa 

About TDCB button 


Plan Hillsborough Follow / Join Mailing List 

View All eNews button 

Follow us on Twitter 

Find us on Facebook  


Imagine2040 recognized for vision & performance 
FHWA released a new Performance-Based Planning and Programming through Scenario Planning Guidebook... and the Imagine 2040 was one of three case studies highlighting best practices from around the country. Imagine2040 was recognized for a land-use vision linked to transportation; offering a number of investment packages; and asking the public to weigh in "using performance metrics to illustrate different scenarios for the future lets people choose the level of investment they think is right," said Executive Director Beth Alden. "For example, our current spending on bus service gives access to about 16% of people and jobs in our county. Doubling our spending on bus service could give access to nearly two thirds of our people and jobs." Peruse the guidebook for greater detail on how scenario planning can lead to sound analysis, and redirecting funds to achieve community targets.
HARTPlus & Yellow Cab team up for the win       

One of the MPO's many commitments is to support and assist the transportation disadvantaged to both find and create opportunities to improve their quality of life by providing transportation solutions and alternatives. Working with the MPO's Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board (TDCB), eighteen volunteers and social service agency representatives, chaired by Tampa City Councilman Harry Cohen, HART has piloted a new service option for persons with disabilities.

During its first half-year, the HARTPlus Customer Choice Voucher Pilot Project, which allows HART paratransit customers to call Yellow Cab Company of Tampa directly for a same-day reservation, has proven to be extremely popular and successful. HART implemented the program on January 1 to provide same-day service to customers with disabilities. As of June 30, riders have taken advantage of the program 15,694 times - and that includes more than 6,599 wheelchair transports. HART conducts customer Quality Assurance calls to gather feedback on the program, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

"This is an excellent response to unprecedented partnership. Part of what we are trying to do is make things easier for our HARTPlus customers to access service and get where they need to go," said Ruthie Reyes Burckard, HART Chief Operating Officer. "HARTPlus is a vital service for persons with disabilities and seniors in Hillsborough County. We are proud and honored to operate our paratransit service and look forward to expanding our partnership with Yellow Cab Company."

Abraham Minardi, Chief Operations Officer, Yellow Cab Company of Tampa, Inc. adds, "Yellow Cab Company of Tampa is proud to partner with HART on such a worthwhile program. The overwhelming success speaks volumes to the efforts of both HART and Yellow Cab to provide excellent transportation services for the citizens of Hillsborough County."

The program facilitates transportation for those who cannot use traditional bus service due to physical, developmental, or cognitive disabilities - including the visually impaired, those who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices, and patients undergoing certain types of medical treatment. HARTPlus rides must be booked one to three days in advance, while the new voucher system allows patrons to call a cab for same-day service at the same price, a $4 one way fare. HART also pitches in to pay up to an additional sixteen dollars.

The innovative program operates 24/7 to provide access to employment, education and training, and community activities, thanks to a partnership between HART and Yellow Cab of Tampa. Grant funding received from the Florida Department of Transportation and the Florida Development Disabilities Council helped to make this project possible. Yellow Cab of Tampa has been a great resource for HART paratransit patrons, and HART looks forward to the continued success of the partnership.
For all-things HART, including OneBusAway, schedules, maps, services, and fares, visit

The State of Transit 
The community was buzzing after an exciting delivery of the State of Transit from HART CEO Katharine Eagan on August 16th. Topics included smartphone apps, on-demand services, autonomous vehicles, modern streetcar, and other emerging tech. Read the Mass Transit Magazine's article for a great overview of the event.

New OneBusAway App... not just when, but how  
USA Area complete w rapid bus bay
The new app tells you which bus to catch and where to catch it!

In the new age of digital everything, apps are being created to help make decisions on where to eat, drive, shop, even to help us meet a future spouse. Using technology isn't for everyone, but when HART launched their OneBusAway app in 2013, it was a huge hit. The app allows transit users to have real-time information via their phone, computer, or other wi-fi device as to when a bus would arrive. This has been especially useful for seniors, transportation disadvantaged travelers, and tourists who may need help to navigate difficult trips. Plus, it offers everyone a sense of relief knowing when the bus is on its way. Now, it's getting even better.

HART is the first U.S. transit agency to add a new dynamic trip planner option to the OneBusAway app. This will truly enhance the rider's experience by offering options on how to make a particular trip by receiving a graphic display with up-to-the-minute bus time information right in the palm of one's hand and to notify the rider if the end time of the trip has changed. Visit HART online to find out more about this and other innovative programs.

Port Tampa Bay is big ship ready 
Port Tampa Bay

On July 22nd Port Tampa Bay officially commissioned its two new, post-Panama gantry cranes, amid an enthusiastic crowd of dignitaries and port customers. Florida Governor Rick Scott delivered remarks highlighting the significance of this enhanced capacity for Port Tampa Bay to serve Florida's expanding international trade, as well as the importance of the state's seaports and logistics sector in generating jobs and economic development.
Many noted dignitaries spoke to the important milestone the new cranes represent and the value of global trade and seaports to the economy. Representing a cost-shared capital investment of $24 million by Port Tampa Bay, the State of Florida, and Ports America, the new cranes are part of the port's ongoing efforts to expand and diversify its cargo business, in particular the large and growing market for containerized cargo in the port's backyard - the Tampa Bay/Orlando I-4 Corridor region. Home to the largest concentration of distribution centers in the state, the Tampa Bay/Orlando I-4 Corridor is the fastest growing region of Florida, recently surpassing New York as the third most populous state, with more than 20 million residents, and welcoming more than 100 million tourists per year.

"Today marks an important milestone for Port Tampa Bay, enhancing our ability to better serve our large and growing market, and assisting our efforts to attract new services, which will provide exporters and importers in our region with more options and improved connections to their overseas customers and suppliers," Paul Anderson, president and CEO, of Port Tampa Bay said. With a total height of over 300 feet and an outreach of 174 feet, the new cranes allow the port to handle ships nearly twice the size of the largest ships that could be accommodated by the port's existing three older container cranes. Since their delivery and installation in early April, the new cranes have undergone extensive testing and certification. "It's great to unveil these beautiful new cranes to our customers and the community, following a seamless and exciting period of getting them ready for container operations. We appreciate the support and leadership of the governor and our elected officials, as well as our strategic partner Ports America and our own team, who have worked on the crane project. It's truly a milestone for the port as we realize this tremendous capital investment and begin to see the generational benefits for the economy." 

Moving forward on ride-sharing or left behind?   
Uber and Lyft logosThere has been a long, ongoing conversation about ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft in communites around the world. Since their arrival on the scene nationally, these new innovative start ups that match local drivers with passengers in need of a transportation have been met with both glee from frequent users, to challenges from existing traditional taxi cab companies, and by local, regional, and state regulatory agencies. Even though this is one transportation alternative that the MPO is not officially involved in, monitoring how the industry could shape our future transportation is of interest.

Here in Hillsborough County the agency charged with handling this difficult process is the Public Transportation Commission (PTC). The PTC is an independent Special District created by a Special Act. The Commission regulates vehicles for-hire as defined in the Special Act and these include taxicabs, limousines, vans, basic life support ambulances and those wrecker services that support government agencies such as the law enforcement agencies in Hillsborough County and non-consensual towing (private property impounds). Check out a recent article in the Tampa Bay Times on the process and ongoing challenges involving the PTC and ride-sharing interests in Hillsborough County.

October 1 - A day of inclusion at the Family Abilities Information Rally 
The F.A.I.R. continues to lead as one of the largest disability education and awareness events in Tampa Bay! Last year, more than 1200 people of all abilities participated. More than 200 vendors from all over the state were featured, even a few from out of state.

In keeping with F.A.I.R. growth, even more activities, entertainment and interactive programs will draw even more attendees. The YES! of America United, Inc. is excited to announce Safety Street 2016: Empowering persons with disabilities to be safe.
Hands on activities and mini-classes for fire exit drills, bicycle rodeo, gun safety, water safety and more. Vendors: If you would like to be part of Safety Street 2016 please indicate on your registration form and bring a tent as Safety Street will be located outside.

For more information or to volunteer, visit

Take the streetcar, enjoy a concert on board!  

It's not your father's cargo ship 
Rolls-Royce crewless cargo shipThe 21st Century is bringing bold and exciting ideas and new technologies that are propelling us into the future. New technologies and apps are changing our lives in ways we used to think of as science fiction. Topics like the use of drones are almost commonplace, even discussions on autonomous vehicles can be heard over the dinner table these days. But all of these new technologies are reaching farther and wider than most of us realize. Enter Rolls Royce with this amazing article in Popular Mechanics projecting spaceship-like crewless cargo ships, possibly by the year 2020! In the link you will also find an amazing video showing how the ships are monitored and navigated by a future shore control center. Watch the video here.
Ford's road to full autonomy       
Ford's autonomous vehicle 
When we think of the Ford, it immediately conjures an all-American legacy in the auto industry. The Ford Motor Company (commonly referred to simply as Ford) is still a multinational automaker headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Founded by Henry Ford and incorporated on June 16, 1903, one would think Mr. Ford would never have imagined his cars would drive themselves! But it looks like Ford will be an American leader again, with the big announcement of their development of an autonomous vehicle. Click the image on right for a brief video or read the full article here.    
Bright idea: Solar powered transportation    

Solar Powered Electric Rail Car
Solar power does more than provide electricity to our homes. Around Florida we have learned to take advantage of the sunshine to power street lighting, parking meter stations, charge electric vehicles, heat swimming pools, so why not give solar powered vehicles a try? In Hungary, they are experimenting with a solar powered rail car. Take a look at this article and imagine the possibilities for use here in the Sunshine State. This concept can transform our transportation systems of the future and as a clean-energy source, not degrade our air quality. Here is another link to the Florida Solar Energy Center so we can see what we are working on in our great state already. 
Water as a Highway: Back to the Future
The following article, with permission, is reprinted from Akerman blogs by Ed Turanchick. Since publication, four local governments have approved the plan and funding for the pilot ferry project. Ferries will start taking passengers across Tampa Bay starting November 1.

Florida's economic prosperity is integrally and intimately tied to water and water resources. Nearly two-thirds of our population is clustered in major urban areas situated on the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico. Most of Florida's tourism and hospitality industries, outside of central Florida, are concentrated on our coasts, with substantial portions located on barrier islands or otherwise accessible primarily by bridge.

In our early years, we used ferries to make connections between land and barrier islands. Ferries rapidly gave way to robust roadway and bridge systems, leaving the St. John's River ferry in Jacksonville as the only functioning public water transit operation in Florida. Yet, the tremendous popularity of our beaches and coastal destinations together with continuing population growth has led to gridlock on our coastal bridges and highways. The high cost of bridge construction coupled with daunting environmental regulatory requirements has made new or expanded bridge construction extraordinarily difficult. Now, two promising projects in the Tampa Bay area may point the way to rekindling the use of our waterways for moving people by introducing modern fast passenger ferry service as a robust transportation solution.

The first is the Hillsborough County public-private partnership to provide commuter ferry service to the sprawling MacDill Air Force Base (MAFB), located at the tip of a peninsula in south Tampa. Home to both Central Command and Special Operations command, the base employs over 16,000 civilian and military personnel, nearly half of whom live in southern Hillsborough County. Because of the geography of Tampa Bay, these southern Hillsborough County residents have a daily roundtrip commute of 70 miles on average, which can take over an hour each way, most of it on roadways at capacity.

Starting in 2010, the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) undertook two separate studies to examine the feasibility of water borne transportation in Tampa Bay. It also identified substantial market interest in this service. It found that ferry service could reduce both trip times and cost to employees, but it also concluded that the service would require significant operating subsidies.

Using the study results, HMS Ferries (HMS), working with its policy advisors at Akerman, LLP, developed a business plan to implement passenger ferry service from south County to MAFB. By making use of high capacity, fast passenger ferries and seamless "first mile-last mile" solutions, HMS presented a plan to Hillsborough County in which it agreed to assume operational risk so long as area governments financed the infrastructure costs, including terminals, trams and vessels.

HMS documented that the MAFB commuter ferry service would reduce average daily travel time by over 20 minutes each day, and save MAFB employees approximately $2600 annually. Projected community and environmental benefits would also be significant, with the first phase of the project reducing travel on area roadways by over 90,000 miles each day. The net reduction in vehicular use also would reduce nitrogen oxide emissions in the Tampa Bay area by 23 tons annually and vehicular greenhouse gas emissions by 8,800 tons annually.

HMS and Akerman also demonstrated that the new ferry service would create transportation capacity at a lower cost than any other competing option. The proposed $25 million project has the capacity to move nearly 2500 commuters during peak rush hour periods over a distance of nearly 35 miles. This would be the equivalent of adding a half lane of limited access roadway over the same distance, which would cost over $500 million. Further, the project could be done in a fraction of time, with nominal environmental and community adverse impacts, and robust community and environmental benefits.

Based upon these project metrics, Hillsborough County and HMS entered into a public-private partnership agreement in February, 2014. Hillsborough County also applied for a federal ferry grant, through the Hillsborough County Area Regional Transit Authority, and was awarded $4.87 million in August, 2014. This was the second largest project-specific ferry grant awarded by the federal government in 2014. With this positive news, however, came new federal regulatory mandates under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, which required Hillsborough County to undertake a review of alternative ferry terminal locations. This review is now underway.

The MacDill Ferry project helped to catalyze the water transportation policy discussion in Tampa Bay. Newly-elected St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, who ran on a platform that included water transportation, started a public initiative to "jump start" ferry service between St. Petersburg and Tampa. Akerman, working in conjunction with Mayor Kriseman and major downtown Tampa redevelopment interests, identified opportunities to make use of seasonal passenger ferry vessels from the northeast United States, to start up a pilot passenger ferry service between the two cities.

Based upon this model, St. Petersburg issued a request for proposals in late 2015 for a turnkey pilot ferry project to operate service during the winter months. Mayor Kriseman secured regional support for this initiative from Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, and the City of Tampa, each of which pledged $350,000 in funding to match St. Petersburg's contribution to the $1.4 million pilot project. HMS was selected as the turnkey project developer and marine operator.

As it stands now, intercity ferry service between St. Petersburg and Tampa will commence in early November, 2016. It will operate between the two cities for six months. A new, 149 passenger ferry, which operates out of Provincetown, Rhode Island during summer months, will provide two daily roundtrips between the cities, seven days each week, plus a third round trip on Friday evenings. The service will introduce the technology to Tampa Bay and test both commuter and tourist transit. Should results be positive, this service can be easily repeated on a recurring seasonal basis.

Ferries served as the only option for crossing waterways for most of our history. Bridge construction made ferries largely obsolete for the last seventy years. But in a growing number of locales in Florida, the high cost and environmental delays associated with bridge building may be opening the door for the advent of new, fast passenger ferry service. The Tampa Bay area passenger ferry projects are likely to shine a new light on water transportation as an innovative mobility alternative whose time has come again.

by Ed Turanchik, Akerman LLP

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.
Learn more about our commitment to nondiscrimination.