Transit eNews of the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)

and its Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board (TDCB)

Issue 22 | March 2017


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In this Issue

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Meetings 

March 20 - TAC
March 22 - LRC
March 28 - Policy
March 29 - STWG 
MPO Board Meeting
April - 4

County Center
601 E Kennedy Blvd
Downtown Tampa 
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Regional Transit Feasibility Plan      
Regional Transit Feasibility Plan

The three most populated counties in the seven-county Tampa Bay area are Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas Counties. County lines are blurred when you are traveling. That's why transportation planning must take a more regional approach.

This plan will build on decades of planning and bridge the gap between the vision for transit throughout the region. An evaluation process using clearly defined criteria will identify the top regional transit corridors, and ultimately one catalyst project that could be implemented first, followed by other projects to move forward around the region.The purpose of the plan is to identify projects:
  • with the greatest potential to be funded (compete for federal grants) and implemented
  • that are the most forward thinking and make the best use of today's technology
  • that best serve our region today while supporting tomorrow's growth
The success of the plan will be built on a foundation of engaged public support. It will also effectively tackle the questions like... Who owns the initial project? How will it be paid for?

Who's involved?
Funded by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the Regional Transit Feasibility Plan is being administered by the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART). The consultant team for this project is led by Jacobs Engineering Group under the direction and guidance of FDOT - District Seven, HART, Pasco County Board of County Commissioners/ Pasco County Public Transportation (PCPT), Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), the Tampa Bay Transportation Management Area (TMA) Leadership Group, and the MPOs serving Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas Counties.

The team wants to know your preferences. Please take the transit preferences survey by March 31st. To learn more and have voice in this important process, please visit:

HART Transit Development Plan
HART is currently conducting a major update to its Transit Development Plan (TDP).  The update includes a strategic plan that identifies needs for service improvements and potential future funding. Its 10-year vision will also lay out the needs and priorities for the first decade of the MPO's Long Range Transportation Plan.        

At the same time, HART is conducting a Comprehensive Operational Analysis (COA) which will provide recommendations for how to build a smarter transit network, going beyond the bus.  An overarching theme for the joint efforts will be how to improve mobility within the core of the transit system while preserving access to it from throughout the County.

Both the TDP and COA will be completed in 2017. Your input is essential in this process. Please join HART at any of the following upcoming workshops:
1801 N Lincoln Ave, Tampa, FL 33607
619 Vonderburg Dr, Brandon, FL 33511
7606 Paula Dr #120, Tampa, FL 33615

Get involved with InVision: Tampa Streetcar 

The City of Tampa is conducting a survey and holding a series of three public meetings to discuss InVision: Tampa Streetcar, a feasibility study about extending and modernizing the current streetcar system. You are encouraged to take a survey and attend the two remaining in the series:

Second InVision: Tampa Streetcar | Brainstorm Session
Tuesday, April 4, 2017 at 5:30 p.m.
Tampa Bay History Center, 801 Old Water St., Tampa, FL 33602

Third InVision: Tampa Streetcar | Results Roundtable 
Tuesday, May 2, 2017 at 5:30 p.m.
Ybor Room, Hillsborough Community College - Ybor City Campus
2001 N. 14th Street, Tampa, FL 33605

Throughout the planning process, a wide range of potential corridors and technologies, including the possible use of autonomous transit vehicles, will be examined. Recommendations regarding feasible alternatives and potential funding strategies in the first phase of InVision: Tampa Streetcar are expected in early Summer 2017. If the feasibility analysis proves positive, a second phase will select a preferred route, and refine plans and strategies. 

The Sunshine Line continues to shine   
The MPO's Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board (TDCB) is tasked with oversight of the Community Transportation Coordinator (CTC) to ensure that the most cost-effective, efficient, and appropriate transportation services are provided to those who, because of disability, age, or income, are unable to provide or purchase their own transportation. Hillsborough's CTC manages the Sunshine Line, offering door-to-door service and the bus pass program, which provides bus passes to patrons with limited income.

The service was evaluated for reliability, effectiveness, efficiency, availability and safety, and the news is good! Notable achievements of the Sunshine Line in 2015/16 include:
  • 93% of trips were on time
  • 1.1 million miles traveled
  • 457,722 trips performed
  • No chargeable accidents
Hillsborough County continues to provide quality service, meeting or exceeding all but one standard. In the area of Reliability, the number of road calls exceeded the standard of 7 per 100,000 miles. The 2015/16 evaluation report also notes seven new vehicles were acquired in 2016, and fourteen more vehicles have been ordered for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017/18. With 35% of the fleet made up of new vehicles, the number of road calls is expected to decline significantly.

School Transportation Resource Fairs  
School Transportation Resource Fair The MPO's School Transportation Working Group is coordinating with Hillsborough County Public Schools to reach out to parents and students and assist with school transportation issues. These events are fun and informative. We hope to see you at an upcoming resource fair!  Contact Lisa Silva for more information.

HART discount & free student rides!   
There are programs that help local high school and college students take HART buses at a discounted rate (or even ride free!). But for Spring Break and all of March, all Hillsborough County middle and high school students ride FREE with your school ID! This applies to students 18 and under, and is good on HART Local, Limited Express, MetroRapid and HARTFlex services. From malls to local attractions and other great places, HART takes you there.

New Flamingo Fare options!   
Flamingo Fares allows you to skip the paper tickets, use one fare across regions, and buy tickets directly from your smartphone. HART and PSTA have added five new pass options which are valid on all HART and PSTA bus services, including HARTFlex, Jolley Trolley, Looper Trolley. (Not valid on HARTPlus or PSTA DART.) Flamingo Fares has also expanded to include a new 1-day Streetcar pass, as well as, the $12.50 Family Pass! In addition, a new 7-day regional ticket, 31-day passport, and streetcar 1-day passes can now be purchased via the Flamingo Fares app.

TD Day in Tallahassee showcases the benefits of providing rides 
Transportation Disadvantaged Day Tallahassee A report on Hillsborough County's Transportation Disadvantaged (TD) Return on Investment reveals that transportation services for seniors and persons with disabilities produce significant economic benefits. Hillsborough provides these dial-a-ride services (Sunshine Line) for five trip purposes, including medical, nutritional, education/ training/ daycare, employment, and life-sustaining services. The data from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016 estimates that trips in these five categories produced over $31 million in benefits, higher than the cost paid to maintain the service.

Annually, the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged (CTD) hosts a Legislative Awareness Day in the Capitol Courtyard in Tallahassee. Members of the TD community showcase abilities of persons with disabilities and meet with Legislators and thank them for their support. Volunteer members of the MPO's Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board have participated in this event for more than a decade. TDCB member Becki Forsell is at TD day today (March 15, 2017) sharing local achievements, encouraging the maintenance of the the Transportation Disadvantaged Trust Fund, and emphasizing the need to keep current funding levels as our senior population continues to grow.
$1.9 million from the state's TD Trust Fund helped provide the nearly 458,000 life sustaining trips for seniors, persons with disabilities, and children at risk in Hillsborough County last year.

Cruise Tampa to Cuba! 
The Carnival Paradise ship will begin offering voyages from Tampa to Cuba beginning June 29. The overnight visits to Havana will be featured on 12 different four- and five-day cruises from Tampa. Read  more in the Tampa Bay Times.

Ferry ridership up!   
Ed Turanchik addresses riders on the Cross Bay Ferry
We have good new to share. The Cross Bay Ferry is now successful enough that it is sending operating revenues back to the government partners that originally supported the 6-month pilot project. The total exceeds $50,000.

Here's why: Under the operating contract, the four governments originally funded the project. Once the ferry operator covered its management costs, money from ticket sales would reverse direction and start going back to the four governments. As the books for February, HMS Ferries determined that the switchover moment happened in late January, with a revenue check of $9,909.40. The February check cashed in at $44,693.27.

An acceleration in ticket sales is evident, selling 2,000-plus tickets during the first week of March, with as many weekday tickets sold as weekend tickets.  At this pace, the ferry could have another monthly record.

Port Tampa Bay is now cooler than ever   
Port Tampa Bay Port Logistics Refrigerated Service Rendering
On February 23rd, Florida Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam was the guest of honor at Port Tampa Bay's cornerstone celebration ceremony for their new state-of-the-art refrigerated warehouse at the heart of Florida's largest market. The culmination of a milestone public-private-partnership established in 2016, the 54-year lease agreement between Port Logistics and Port Tampa Bay includes the construction of the facility on Hooker's Point at the port in downtown Tampa and considers the opportunity for additional expansion.

Congratulations to Port Tampa Bay as they continue to develop as one of the fastest growing port operations in Florida. Other Port of Tampa fun facts: 
  • Florida's largest cargo tonnage port
  • Huge local market - 8 million people within 100 miles
  • Largest port in area in Florida and one of the nation's largest - 5,000 acres
  • One of the nation's most diversified ports
  • Expanding container gateway to Florida and the Southeast
  • Major cruise home port
  • Petroleum & energy gateway for West/Central Florida
  • One of the world's premier fertilizer ports
  • One of the top shipbuilding and repair centers in the Southeast
  • Economic impact of $15 billion and 80,000 jobs

HART AV pilot project on the way 

In partnership with the FDOT, HART will be conducting a pilot project of self-driving transit shuttles in Downtown Tampa on the Marion Street busway. The project will demonstrate the safety related benefits of autonomous transit, letting members of the public try this new technology for themselves. 
The service is expected to be connected wirelessly by communicating with other vehicles, infrastructure and pedestrians along Marion Street. Marion Street is a north and south running roadway in the center of Downtown Tampa. Between the hours of 6am and 7pm on weekdays, the corridor is for exclusive use of buses and emergency vehicles, therefore offering an opportunity to operate a low speed autonomous shuttle service outside of mixed traffic. The goal is to have project partners on board and have a shuttle on the road by the end of 2017.

Read about an exciting new autonomous vehicle test already underway in Finland. The nation's capital, Helsinki, is hosting two of the world's first self-driving buses.  

Niles tapped for state Minority Health Director/ Closing the Gap Administrator  
A Hillsborough County Department of Health staffer who built a bridge between health and transportation planning by serving on the MPO Citizen Advisory Committee and creating a health partnerships working group a few years ago has been selected by Tallahassee for a statewide position. Walter Niles has accepted a new position as the Minority Health Director/ Closing the Gap Administrator in the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity. Mr. Niles will oversee health equity initiatives for the Closing the Gap grant program and Florida Healthy Babies. Projects funded through the Closing the Gap grant program help stimulate the development of community and neighborhood-based organizations to improve health outcomes of racial and ethnic populations and promote disease prevention activities. We wish him well and look forward to working with him in his new capacity!

Tampa Bay Times: Tampa Bay has one of the worst public transit systems in America. Here's why. 
Tampa Bay Times recently published this interesting article about our transportation systems here in Tampa Bay. The stories are quite sobering especially from a transit users point of view. Read the full article. 

The Times staff writers found:
  • Tampa Bay spends far less on transit each year than any other major metro area. It is the only top-20 metro region to spend less than $213 million annually. Its $141 million operating budget is on par with Bridgeport, Conn., and Buffalo, N.Y., each of which have 1.5 million fewer people.
  • County leaders in Hillsborough and Pinellas have drawn up more than a dozen plans to close the gap - then scrapped almost every one.
  • While action in Tampa Bay stalled, other similar-sized cities began treating their limited public transportation infrastructure as a crisis. Their systems improved while Tampa Bay's stagnated.

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