After months of diligent work, HART and PSTA submitted their federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) application. HART staff had been working around the clock to ensure that it was the most persuasive and optimum application possible. Application for TIGER grants is intensely competitive, as projects and agencies across the country vie for their share of the remaining $500 million worth of TIGER grants.
Both staffs have created enough of a comprehensive plan to apply this year for $9 million from one of the largest federal transportation grant programs. If the money is approved, the agencies would use it to assist in the funding of the new region-wide electronic fare management system. To receive the grant, HART and PSTA would have to provide $2.4 million in matching money, which it could pay over a three-year period.
"This project is not only critical to HART and PSTA, but to the region as a whole," said Katharine Eagan, HART CEO. "This will significantly move our region into the future of transit fare collection and allow our riders an unparalleled, flexible rider experience. We're in a position where we think we have a competitive application."
The HART Government Relations team and PSTA executive staff also succeeded in gathering wide support. More than 40 regional leaders pledged their support, including U.S Senator Bill Nelson, Congresswoman Kathy Castor, and Congressmen Vern Buchanan, Gus Bilirakis, Thomas Rooney, David Jolly, and David Ross - plus every member of the Hillsborough County state Legislative delegation. Earlier this month, the Hillsborough County BOCC also voted to provide a letter of support, to be added to those from City of Tampa Mayor, Bob Buckhorn, St. Petersburg, Mayor Rick Kriseman, City of Temple Terrace Mayor, Frank Chillura and the City of Tampa City Council, St. Petersburg, City Council to name a few. Click here for the complete list.
"With the full support of our local and regional leaders, we are poised and prepared to begin the regionalization of transit in Tampa Bay," said PSTA CEO Brad Miller. "By uniting our counties and strengthening our transit network, we will be better able to provide value to our riders and communities."
TIGER funding would usher in a new era for Tampa Bay regional transit. A seamless and technologically-advanced smart card system would replace the outdated system to dramatically streamline the transit ticket-buying process. Riders would be able to buy just one fare card and use it for travel across all eight counties, making regional transit faster, easier, and much more convenient.
That would be a tremendous boom for the local economy, with far-reaching and sustainable rewarding benefits for everyone. That fits perfectly with the stated purpose of these federal TIGER grants, which are specifically intended to enable road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve national objectives.