Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Change Your Life with Transit in 2011!

With the New Year fast approaching, many are looking at doing things differently in 2011. Nationwide, individuals are looking to eat better, reduce stress and save money. Make the most of this goodwill by trying transit in the New Year and get on track to accomplishing all 3 resolutions!
Drum roll please...
The Top 10 Reasons to Try Transit in 2011

Getting out of the comfort zone of your car may seem daunting and scary, so why not make it a 2011 must-do by adding it to the resolution list? Plus, here are some (good) reasons to try transit in 2011:

1. Save, save, save. A second car in Tampa Bay costs a family on average about $700/month, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). A HART monthly bus pass is $60. That’s $640 in monthly savings! Use APTA’s transit calculator to find out what it costs to drive a personal vehicle versus trying transit: http://bit.ly/bJFx4U

2. Gas prices expected to reach $3/gallon. Gas prices have climbed in 2010, and expected to reach $3/gallon in 2011, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Energy, citing higher crude oil prices combined with higher refiner margins.


3. Go green. This is the generation that’s doing it differently! Many residents have made daily changes as part of their personal going green initiative: energy-efficient light bulbs, reusable grocery bags, and low-flow shower heads. Next stop on going green: Ride HART.


4. Reduce stress. It’s no secret driving in gridlock traffic is stressful. Kick the car habit, and don’t “stress” about how to get home from work. The Emergency Ride Home program makes it easy to rely on transit by ensuring a ride home in case of an emergency or unplanned situation. Learn more at www.tampabayrideshare.org

5. Reach fitness goals. Regular exercise is a common New Year’s resolution. Taking the bus is an easy way to get in the recommended minimum daily 30 minutes of physical activity, according to the 2005 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Why use a treadmill at a smelly gym when you could be going places instead!

6. Everyone else is doing it. HART riders who make up the more than 12 million in yearly bus trips can’t be wrong! They are enjoying more safety, less stress and use technology to help them plan their bus trips, like Google Trip Planner and RouteShout.

7. Bike and ride. Each HART bus accommodates two bikes. By combining buses and bikes, commuters can greatly expand their range of travel.

8. More public transit in more communities. HART has added flexible services in two areas, South County and Brandon, which historically have been underserved by a fixed-route bus system. HARTFlex provides on-demand, door-to-door van transportation within a half-mile of the designated routes in the Sun City area or anywhere in the Brandon zone.

9. Ride and fly. Frequent air travelers can take advantage of Route 30,which provides service from downtown Tampa, Westshore and Tampa International Airport every 15 minutes weekdays, and 30 minutes on weekends. Route 30 runs mainly along Kennedy with many stops along the way. Workers along this route need only park at the office and hop aboard the nearest stop!

10. Again, savings, savings, savings. Congress recently passed legislation to extend a transit benefit through 2011. It gives employers a tax-free option to provide their employees with a $230 benefit to go towards paying for public transit.

Change your life in 2011, start with HART!


NOTE: HART will operate on a Sunday schedule for New Year's DAY, while the TECO Line Streetcar System will operate on a Friday schedule (11 a.m. - 2 a.m.).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Stuff a Bus, and the HART Board Shuffle!

It's that time of the year again the season of giving! Local DJs, Ratboy and StayPuff from 93.3 FLZ have teamed up with HART for the 3rd Annual Stuff a Bus toy drive!

A HART bus will remain parked at the Westfield Brandon Shopping Center across from the Sears Auto Center located at 459 Brandon Town Center, Brandon, FL, 33511, until 7p.m. on Saturday, December 18.

93.3 FLZ has been broadcasting live each night from the HART bus, as RatBoy and StayPuff live in the bus 24 hours a day for the entire week.
Other 93.3 FLZ personalities have been dropping by throughout the week to share some of the bus duties.

The gifts do not have to cost an arm and a leg to be worthy of donation. Anything is appreciated, as long as the gift is in new, unwrapped condition! The toys will benefit the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program to help Tampa Bay area families in need this holiday season!

Changing of the Guard

At the Dec. 6 HART Board Meeting, Alison A. Hewitt, former HART Board Vice Chair, was elected as HART Board Chair. As the Board Chair, she will continue to champion countywide outreach and education about transportation alternatives.
"Every segment of our community -- individuals, families, businesses, and communities -- benefit from public transportation and it is my goal to promote the services offered by HART," said Ms. Hewitt. "It is our responsibility to provide an opportunity to an enhanced quality of life for residents in Hillsborough County."
Ms. Hewitt was appointed to the Board in 2006 by Gov. Jeb Bush. Her tenure on the board has led to the expansion of the HART Business Diversity Program to include a Small Business Enterprise Program, and potentially, a Women/Minority Business Enterprise program in Fiscal Year 2012. Ms. Hewitt is also president and a founding member of the Central Florida Chapter of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials.

In 2000, Ms. Hewitt was named by Ebony Magazine as one of the nation's "30 Leaders Under 30 to Watch."


Ms. Hewitt's former role as Vice Chair is now served by Fran Davin, with Wallace Bowers serving as HART Board Secretary.

The HART Board also welcomed, Commissioner
Sandy Murman. Ms. Murman replaces Commissioner Rose Ferlita, who resigned the County Commission to run for Mayor of the City of Tampa. Ms. Murman is a former member of the Florida House of Representatives, and was the first Republican woman to hold the position of Speaker Pro-Tempore. Ms. Murman has been very active in Hillsborough County in her more than 35 years of residence, being directly involved in more than 20 organizations that support our community and enhance the lives of children and families.

Welcome aboard, Commissioner Murman!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Streetcar Fun for only $12.50!

What can you do with a family of 5 for only $12.50? A movie matinee? Nope, it'll cost you over $20 for the tickets alone. A bite to eat at a fast food chain? Your body isn't a fan of that idea. Not to mention, how much fun can you have at Taco Bell?

How about an adventure into Tampa's past? That's right! HART recently introduced a new all-day Family Pass only good on the TECO Line Streetcar. For only $12.50, two adults and 3 children or 1 adult and 4 children - quite the handful, I'm sure - can ride all day on the TECO Line Streetcar System. That's a savings of up to $5, compared to purchasing the fare separately.

Park in Ybor, Channelside or downtown, pick up your Family Pass from the ticket vending machine located at most of the streetcar stops along the line and you're good to go!

While taking a trip back to a time when streetcars bustled down the street is a journey in itself. The streetcar also connects most of Tampa's best attractions and destinations! Hop off in Ybor
City for a stroll down 7th avenue, one of the great streets in America*. Check out the Ybor City Saturday Market for fresh fruit, local artwork, jewelry and more!

You could also check out the Channelside Entertainment Plaza, with free live music every weekend. Window shop, while watching the cruise ships pull in and out of the Port of Tampa!

De-board at Dick Greco Plaza and catch the sunset along the newly revitalized Riverwalk, the perfect way to end the day. Play with your kids or grab a blanket, pack a picnic and enjoy the wonderful view of the Minarets at the University of Tampa, in the new Curtis Hixon Park.

A day full of fun, for only $12.50.

With all there is to do along the streetcar line, we didn't even scratch the surface. Here is a listing of the attractions at each streetcar station.

Soon, there will be even more reason to ride...



On December 19th, the TECO Line Streetcar System will be extending into the heart of downtown at Whiting and Franklin Street, connecting to 35,000 people working downtown. The extension also provides walkable access to the Tampa Theater, Tampa Museum of Art, the Florida Museum of Photography, Lykes Gaslight Park and several downtown hotels.


A discount in one hand and an extension in the other, just another way that HART is doing more for you with less!


*According to the American Planning Association for 2008

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Year-in-Review

2010 has been one of the most exciting times in the history of HART. The year brought award, record ridership numbers and most importantly, the discussion of transportation alternatives to the forefront on resident's minds. Hillsborough County citizens have shown that transportation and relieving congestion, is an important issue, even in our current economic climate.

Lets take a stroll through the year that was, and look ahead to what is coming from HART.

The year began with the Alternatives Analysis study already underway and the TECO line Streetcar extension chugging its way to Whiting Street. We'll Tarantino it and tell you how the movie ends.


The Alternatives Analysis study began to select a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) for proposed rapid transit corridors. The study will conclude in early 2011, with the selection of an LPA.

The streetcar extension is also close to completion and will be operational with soft opening on Dec. 19. Soon riders will be able to go from Centennial Park in Ybor all the way to the skyscrapers of downtown. Going to a movie at the Tampa Theater with dinner beforehand? Streetcar has you covered. Park in Ybor, get dinner at Channelside, get off at the Fort Brooke Garage, and take a short walk to the theater! The extension will connect an additional 35,000 people that work in the downtown core.

March and April were innovative for HART.

HART partnered with Deeplocal Inc. in March to launch RouteShout, a tool to give riders the ability to use smartphones, Androids, Iphones or their mobile browser to receive HART scheduled bus time arrivals on the go. The streak of nine consecutive months with over a million in ridership also began in March.

In April, HART Flex service launched in Brandon and South County. Flex service is an on-demand,
door-to-door van-based call ahead pickup service. Patrons can schedule appointments for pickup from 3 hours to a week in advance. Patrons can even request subscription service if they book the same trip, in the same zone, more than three times a week! The service has been a hit in South County and the Brandon area and there are plans to expand the service to other neighborhoods of Hillsborough County in the near future.

The summer months saw a rise in outreaches as HART spent more time out in the community listening and educating than in years past, with more than 366 community outreach meetings and events. Comparatively, in FY 09' 133 outreaches were held.

October was all treats and no tricks for HART, as the organization was honored with two awards. The first was the 2010 Most Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award among mid-sized agencies carrying 4-20 million passenger trips a year, awarded by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). The award recognized the organization's achievements in ridership growth, financial management, environmental sustainability, workforce development and community relations.

The Tampa Latin Chamber of Commerce also presented HART with the 2010 Hispanic Large Business of the Year Award to recognize the organization's efforts to encourage and promote diversity.

Along with a slight chill at times, October also brought record ridership to HART. Over 12 million trips gave HART the highest bus ridership in its 30-year history! The following month, HART would see its busiest day, E-V-E-R! On November 3, over 50,000 riders boarded HART buses.

In November, HART once again partnered with the
University of South Florida's Athletic Department during one of its football games to host a food and toy drive to benefit children and their families during the holiday season. HART also provided transportation to the game for youth (many of them, their very first Bulls game) from the Javamo's Art for Autism foundation. The kids are amazing!

Streetcar whistle blows carried in the wind on November 13th, when HART held the annual TECO Line Streetcar Fest with 25¢ cent rides, live music, demonstrations, contests and special offers. HART saw over 7,000 rides on the TECO Line Streetcar during the event. Turns out we discovered a couple of stars from HART staff during the event. See if you can tell which one is not like the other one in the video below!

video

2010 is coming to a close, and HART is looking ahead to the future.

The HART Board approved the expansion of the Business Diversity Program to include a Small Business Enterprise Program for the upcoming year and potentially a Women/Minority Business Enterprise in fiscal year 2012. This program expansion will contribute to the local economy by providing more opportunities for the little guy to participate in all of HART's procurements, whether they are federally or locally funded.

2010 was a great year for HART, but with all the new initiatives and MetroRapid service on the horizon in 2012... we are just getting started.

Some miscellaneous tidbits that happened throughout the year:
  • HART launched A Community with HART a monthly community newsletter available in print from HART customer service offices or library, and electronically.
  • Slight route adjustments in June and November saved HART $660,000.
  • HART saved $1.2 million over the next year, by joining with neighboring agencies to secure fuel prices in advance.
  • HART secured $14.2 mil. in grant funding
  • HART replaced 29 of 232 buses in 2010, with the latest EPA-certified, low-emission engines.
  • 160 new shelters with solar lighting were installed in 2010, compared to 104 in 2009.
  • 82 new operators were trained in 2010, successfully completing an eight-week training program.

We would like to thank everyone for their continued support of HART and promise to continue to do more with less, while serving Hillsborough County. At HART, Driven to Serve You isn't a tagline, it's business as usual.



Friday, November 19, 2010

HART and USF Team Up for the Holidays

And now...let's hear it for the starting lineup of your hometown team - the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority and the USF Bulls!



With the holidays upon us, the University of South Florida Athletic Department and HART are taking the field with Feeding America and the Marines Toys for Tots with the second annual "Take HART" food and toy drive.

If you're heading out to watch the Bulls take on the Pitt Panthers tomorrow, bring along some non-perishable food items and new or slightly used toys. We'll have HART buses stationed at the north and south ends of Raymond James Stadium between 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to take your donations.

We want to fill those buses!

HART's head coach, David Armijo, gave us a pep talk about the USF/HART holiday drives.

"Last year, this effort collected hundreds of pounds of food, hundreds of toys, as well as cash donations," Coach Armijo said. "This year we hope fans will once again support this great cause that will help so many during the upcoming holidays, while supporting their college football team and local public transit."

Special Kids Get a Ride to the Game
Just as we did last year, HART is bringing some special football fans to the game with us. We'll be loading up kids from Javamo's Art For Autism, many of whom will be attending their first Bulls football game.

"We're really fortunate to have such a solid relationship with HART and value their impact on the Tampa community," said USF Executive Associate Director of Athletics, Bill McGillis. "We hope to make this Food and Toy drive the staple of a late November game every year and HART is a terrific partner in this pursuit."

Join the team! Bring along your donations and cheer on your USF Bulls tomorrow!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Need a Ride to the Airport? We're Going Your Way!

If you're making travel plans this holiday season, here's a thought: let us drive you to the airport!

HART's Route 30 provides service between downtown Tampa and Tampa International Airport every 15 minutes from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. on weekdays, and every 30 minutes on weekends.

And at only $1.75 each way, you could save enough to cover your holiday gift budget!

Ready to give it a try? Here are some tips.

Tip #1 - Use Your Connections
Route 30 runs from downtown Tampa along Kennedy Boulevard to Westshore and then to the airport, with many stops along the way. If you work downtown, or anywhere else near the route, just park at the office and hop aboard at the nearest stop (call the HARTinfo Line at 254-HART to find it - not all stops are published timepoints). If you don't live or work close to Route 30, check to see if you can make a connection - many HART routes serve the Marion Transit Center downtown, so you could easily connect there.

Just remember to check the schedule for your connecting route before you book your return trip. While many routes have extensive schedules, several do not operate on nights and weekends.

From north of the airport, you've got an easy trip. You can park in the Park-n-Ride lot at HART's Northwest Transfer Center at Waters Avenue and Sheldon Road, then hop aboard Route 30!

Tip #2 - Travel Light
HART's buses are designed for the urban traveler, so there are no luggage racks or bins. If you'll be traveling for a week or so, you should have plenty of room for your carry-on bag and another piece of luggage. And always remember to bring your exact fare (for your return trip, too!), since HART drivers do not carry change.

Tip #3 - At the Terminal
If you've always hurried through the airport trying to make your flight, you might have missed the HART bus stop outside the Red Baggage Claim area. We'll drop you off right by the door, where you can head inside and up the escalators to check in. And when you get home, just follow the signs guiding you to Ground Transportation and Local Buses. If you get lost or confused, keep the HARTinfo Line number handy (254-HART, or 4278 if your phone doesn't have letters on the number pad). There are also computer kiosks at the terminal you can use to access HART's website, http://www.gohart.org/, if you need a quick info check.

Tip #4 - Be Flexible
As with any travel plan, you should build in a little fudge room. Traffic, lines at the airport, security measures and weather will all factor in your travel time. It's about a 40-minute bus trip from Marion Transit Center at the northeast corner of downtown to the airport - shorter if you get on somewhere in between - so just include that in your schedule.

Tip #5 - Relax
Once you're onboard, we'll take it from there. All you have to think about is the holiday fun you're going to have!

Thanks for riding, and all of us at HART wish you safe travels this holiday season.

For the complete Route 30 schedule, click here.
To download a printable PDF map of Route 30, click here.

For more travel options, check out HART's online trip planner, powered by Google, on the front page of our website at http://www.gohart.org/.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

HART's 50K Day

These folks are in good company on HART buses!
Remember the picture of Tropicana Field we showed you a couple of weeks ago? We used it to point out that HART's daily ridership would just about fill the stands at a Rays game.

Well, we need a new picture because we've outgrown the Trop!

On Wednesday, November 3, HART set another record. It was the first day in the agency's history that ridership was more than 50,000 for a single day.

Fifty-thousand. Five followed by four zeroes. Fifty-K. If we were still trying to fit them all in the Trop, we'd have to take the tarps off the upper-deck seats - and even then, we'd still have people waiting outside!

The 50,000-ride day follows the eighth consecutive month of more than 1 million rides on HART services, with October's bus ridership up more than 30,000 from the previous month and more than 7% over October 2009.

At yesterday's meeting, HART Board Chairman Ron Govin encouraged his fellow Board members to carry the ridership report with them to help spread the good news.

"You ought to pull that page out, put it in your back pocket and when people ask if we have transit in Hillsborough County, you can tell 'em, we have transit," he said.

Here are some random thoughts on 50,000:

50,000 trees were planted in 30 minutes by volunteers in India.

50,000 light years from the sun encompasses the Milky Way galaxy.

50,000 milk cartons were used to build a record-breaking castle in Spain.

About 50,000 was the population of Ames, IA, Biloxi, MS  and 11 other cities in the 2000 census.

Thanks to everyone who rides HART every day - all 50,000 of you!

Monday, November 15, 2010

AA Study to Continue, Other Decisions Still to Come

HART's Alternatives Analysis study is still underway.
What's next?

That's the essence of discussions by the HART Board of Directors during a scheduled meeting this morning at County Center.

For now, the Board agreed its previous direction that HART finish the Alternatives Analysis study is still in effect, and that completing the work is essential to future transit plans.

But some of the decisions to be made in light of the AA study will have to wait for more information and discussion.

"What you've been commissioned to do, you will continue to do until we meet and decide if there would be any changes," Temple Terrace City Councilman and HART Board Chairman Ron Govin commented to the staff.

"The amount of content that has gone into this is amazing. It has been done on a very thorough basis, but there is a need for more time going forward."

Mary Shavalier, who has spearheaded HART's work on the AA, reported on the study's status, and the impact the failure of the referendum would have on the process. As the study wraps up, she said it will be important to show factors besides local funding in the agency's presentation to the FTA, particularly reducing costs and emphasizing opportunities for economic development.

As for any possibility of identifying an alternate source of local funding, Ms. Shavalier said HART has a lot of work to do, and that it would require many discussions by the HART Board and with other community partners.

The work done so far builds upon what's known as the Tampa Rail Plan, the 2002 study that received a federal record of decision, but was shelved due to lack of local funding. Ms. Shavalier showed the Board how the current work has improved the plan dramatically, with enhanced connections for an increased ridership base, service into and through Tampa International Airport, and plans to serve the communities of northwest Hillsborough County, Tampa Palms and New Tampa.

Board members recognized that given the mood of the country, now is the time for prudence.

"We do need to absorb the message - not just local voters, but a state and national message," said Dr. Steven Polzin. "What we thought was a good project a few weeks ago may not be a good project going forward. I want to continue to capture information, but we need to be very careful making decisions right now."

Board member Fran Davin was also circumspect, but urged her colleagues to consider implications for the future.

"Many years ago, another board got to this point, and because of funding constraints it was shelved," she said. "I would hate to think we would come this far and just drop it."

"I agree there needs to be time for reflection and to listen to other voices in the community, but I'm concerned that we waste the investment to date," Ms. Davin continued. "I think we want to be prudent. We should contemplate our next step. If we have to put something on the shelf for a number of years, let's make sure the next group has something they can build from."

After discussion, the Board voted to allow staff to continue work on the AA, and to convene another meeting to talk about next steps and the Board's actions related to the study.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tour de Streetcar

Imagine all the activities you could pack into 2.4 miles, then add in a few more blocks of fun, food and great family deals, and what have you got?

It's the 8th Annual Streetcar Fest presented by Kimmins Construction, taking place tomorrow all along the TECO Line Streetcar System and In-Town Trolley Green Line, including Ybor City, the Channel District and downtown Tampa. Get onboard for just 25 cents from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and have a day full of family fun.

Come along for a guided tour of some of the great activities we have planned for you! Click here for the full streetcar and trolley system map so you can follow along.

Station #1 - Centennial Park
Station 1 serves Centennial Park and eastern Ybor City
We start at the northern end of the line next to Centennial Park. First, be sure to visit the Streetcar Fest information tent and grab a brochure - you'll need to present it for some of the deals being offered throughout the day.

When you arrive at this station, don't miss the Ybor City Saturday Market, which is open between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., for fresh produce, gourmet foods and sauces, fresh baked breads, plants, gifts, jewelry, crafts...you name it, they have it.

This is also your stop for the Ybor City Museum State Park, where you can get a first-hand look at historic Ybor. You can also visit our friends at Mema's Alaskan Tacos and Tribecca Color Salon for discounts available during Streetcar Fest.

Station #2 - Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union Station
Hop off at Station 2 for Centro Ybor and more
Stop here for all the fun, food and shopping of Centro Ybor! You can catch entertainment on the plaza from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., including Rayzilla’s PBS Band (Latin influence), the HCC Stage Band (Jazz), a Lifestyle Family Fitness workout demonstration, and an appearance by Teddy Roosevelt with stories of old Ybor City.

Hang onto the brochure you picked up earlier, because you'll need it for some of the discounts offered by merchants in the Centro Ybor area, like Roma Pizza, Gaspar's Grotto and La France Vintage Clothing.

Station #4 - Cadrecha Plaza
From Station 4, take a short walk to the streetcar barn,
just across the street from the Hampton Inn
Hop off the streetcar at Cadrecha Plaza and walk one block south to the streetcar barn. Here you can join the Friends of the Streetcar Society for behind-the-scenes tours of the streetcars' home, and ride into the past on the restored 1923 Birney Streetcar No. 163.

This is also your stop for the Underground Coffee & Thrift Store, where you can get great coffee for a cause - proceeds help in the restoration of vulnerable women.

Pulling away from the streetcar barn and leaving Ybor City, our next stop is the Channel District!

Station #7 - Cumberland Avenue 
Stations 7 & 8 are your connection to all the fun
in the Channel District
Jump off at the Cumberland Avenue station for the Florida Aquarium! Say hello to the fish and other undersea creatures for $5 off regular admission with your Streetcar Fest brochure (told you you'd need it!)

Station #8 - Tampa Tribune Station
Here's your stop for all the fun and excitement of Channelside Bay Plaza! If you're out and about early, you can pick up tickets for a special one-hour sightseeing cruise of Tampa Bay aboard Yacht Starship. The cruise departs at 2 p.m., with boarding between 1:30 and 1:45. Word to the wise - the sightseeing cruise is always a very popular activity, and tickets sell out fast. If you want to hit this one, be sure to pick up your tickets as soon as the office opens.

Inside Channelside Bay Plaza, don't miss deals and discounts from the Tampa Bay Visitor Information Center & Gift Shop, the American Victory Ship Mariners Museum, Channelside Bennigan's, Coldstone Creamery and Wine Design.

Station #9 - HSBC Station
At Station 9, visit the Tampa Bay History Center and
St. Pete Times Forum
Stop here to go back in time at the Tampa Bay History Center. Since you're already in the mood to ride the rails, don't miss the center's new exhibit, "From the Orange Blossom Special to High Speed Rail: Train Travel in Tampa Bay," and get a $2 discount off your regular admission.

While you're in the neighborhood, drop by the St. Pete Times Forum box office and pick up a free ticket for kids 12 and under with the purchase of an adult ticket to see your Tampa Bay Lightning take on the Minnesota Wild on Sunday, November 14 at 5 p.m. (some restrictions apply, see box office for details).

Station #10 - Dick Greco Plaza
At Station 10, explore beautiful Greco Plaza and other
scenic locations
The beautiful Dick Greco Plaza is the southern end of the streetcar line, at least until the Whiting Street extension opens in the next few weeks. Hop out here and take a walk among the lush landscaping adjacent to the plaza (and take your picture with our former mayor, Dick Greco). You can also meander across the street and take in the views along the Riverwalk behind the Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina.

If you're feeling really energetic, you can catch a workout demonstration by Lifestyle Family Fitness or rent a bicycle from City Bike Tampa, with your second hour free (rental hut on the Riverwalk under the Harbor Island Bridge at the Marriott). City Bike Tampa will also be offering a free safety class at 10 a.m. at the Forum.

Feel more like relaxing? Sail Pavilion on the Riverwalk outside the Tampa Convention Center has drink specials for Streetcar Fest attendees.

That's the end (for now) of the streetcar line, but there's even more fun waiting for you in downtown Tampa. From Greco Plaza, just hop aboard the In-Town Trolley Green Line, HART's rubber-wheel trolley network, and head a few blocks north. The In-Town Trolley fare is just 25 cents.
Some of the downtown venues served by the
In-Town Trolley Green Line
Once you've arrived downtown, check out the following Streetcar Fest specials:
  • Avanzare Bar & Restaurant in the Hyatt Regency - $5 and $3 drink specials noon to 10 p.m.
  • Ashley Street Grille at the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk - $2 drafts and 2-for-1 wells; 20% off meals with your Streetcar Fest brochure
  • Glazer Children's Museum - 15% off gift shop purchase Saturday only with brochure
  • "Paws for a Cawse" event next to the Tampa Museum of Art
After the Streetcar Fest, you can enjoy a show at Straz Center for the Performing Arts:
Opera Tampa's "The Merry Widow," 8pm, Ferguson Hall
"Forbidden Broadway," 2pm & 7:30pm, Jaeb Theater
Jobsite Theater's "Mindgame," 8pm, Shimberg Playhouse
Jazz @ The Straz presents Ken Loomer Big Band, 7:30 p.m., TECO Theater

Whew! Are you tired yet? That's a whole lot of great stuff to do, packed into one terrific day along the TECO Line Streetcar System and In-Town Trolley Green Line. Gather the family, find a bunch of quarters, and come out tomorrow for all the fun. We'll see you on the line!

For more information about the TECO Line Streetcar System, visit our website, http://www.tecolinestreetcar.org/.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Honoring our Heroes

HART salutes our military, past and present
At the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month in 1918, armistice was declared, effectively ending four years of battle that would come to be known as World War I.

By 1954, a veteran of another war, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, signed a bill recognizing November 11 as a day to honor the brave men (and women) who fought in all of America's wars.

That's why we recognize veterans on November 11 each year. Today, we take a page from history and salute our own heroes on this Veterans Day. HART is proud to provide free service to all active and retired military personnel today, along with their dependents.

A House of Heroes
Not long ago, a veterans' advocacy group approached HART with a request: could we offer free rides for veterans in need? From those conversations, a special salute to veterans on their day of honor was born.

One of the local organizations that we've been working with is Liberty Manor for Veterans, a "non-profit organization with the objective of promoting the developmental and social needs of veterans who have served our country and fought for our independence...but fallen victim to homelessness."

Liberty Manor, which declares "the home of the free because of the brave" on its website, provides transitional housing to homeless veterans, helping them with job skills and connecting them with sources of financial support such as military pensions or Social Security disability compensation, putting them back on the road to self-sufficiency.

Stories of people helped by Liberty Manor range from an 86-year-old member of the "Greatest Generation" who fought in World War II, to a young Iraq War veteran who developed a severe medical condition while serving - along with veterans of every war in between.

In fact, one of Liberty Manor's success stories is a veteran who was eventually hired as a HART bus driver!

Having veterans behind the wheel of our buses helps us understand how important reliable transportation is for men and women who bravely served and have now fallen on hard times. The James A. Haley VA Hospital in the USF area is one of our most requested destinations, with former military personnel making frequent medical trips there.

HART is honored to play a small part in making the lives of our veterans a little easier. We thank all military personnel, past and present, for your sacrifice and your service.

For more on Liberty Manor for Veterans, visit their website here.

We also thank our other military partners, including the Veterans Advocacy Council, the Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County, and Friend of Families Foundation.org.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Your Own Economic Stimulus Plan

Get onboard with your HART farecard and save!
What would you do with an extra $9,000 in your pocket?

With all the talk of bank bailouts, Wall Street excess and economic stimulus, there's something you can do to stimulate your own bottom line: try transit. You could save enough to make a real difference.

The American Public Transportation Association just released its monthly Transit Savings Report for November 2010, and the numbers show how parking the car and taking transit can add up to more dollars for you.

The report found that riding public transportation could save individuals more than $9,000 a year, or almost $800 a month.

APTA notes that the total is based on the November 8 average national gas price of $2.85 per gallon as reported by AAA, and the national unreserved parking rate.

You can read APTA's press release on the November Transit Savings Report, including the methodology used to arrive at the final numbers, here.

Want to find out what you might save by riding instead of driving? Calculate the cost of your commute at http://www.publictransportation.org/.

Just one more great reason to get onboard with HART!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Family Fun for 25 Cents!

If you're looking for a deal - and really, who isn't these days? - bring the family out to Streetcar Fest, next Saturday, November 13, for a fun-filled day in downtown Tampa, the Channel District and Ybor City.

What's on tap? We're glad you asked!

First, it's just 25 cents per ride between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., thanks to our friends at Kimmins Construction. Think of it - a family of four can hop aboard for just a buck! Where else can you find a deal like that?

You'll also get discounts at the Florida Aquarium and the Channelside Bennigans, plus a special tour of Tampa Bay aboard Yacht Starship.

And don't miss special events at Centro Ybor and the Ybor City Saturday Market, along with food, music and special offers at shops and restaurants all along the streetcar line. We'll also be giving behind-the-scenes tours of the streetcar barn.

Just look for our information tents along the line to pick up a brochure with all the info.

As if that's not enough, HART's In-Town Trolley Green Line will be operating extended hours next Saturday to connect you to even more fun in and around downtown. Hop aboard between 9 a.m. and 2 a.m. (yep, that's 2 in the morning), for the low regular fare of just 25 cents.

There's so much to do, we'll bet you can't do it all.

The TECO Line Streetcar System operates until 2 a.m. on Saturdays. After 5 p.m. on November 13, regular fares will apply. As always, remember to bring your exact fare - streetcar motormen do not carry change.

Mark your calendars today, and we'll see you along the line next Saturday!

For more details on Streetcar Fest, presented by Kimmins Construction, click here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Service Changes Take Effect Sunday

There are a few changes to HART service set to start this Sunday, November 7. This round of changes affects Routes 36 and 39, and both In-Town Trolley routes.

Don't forget to "fall back" on Sunday
And don't forget, this Sunday also marks the end of Daylight Saving Time - meaning it's time to "fall back." Be sure to set your clocks back an hour before you hit the sack on Saturday night, or you'll be at your bus stop an hour too early on Sunday!

November 7, 2010 Service Changes

Route 36 - Dale Mabry/Himes Avenue
Minor weekday time change. Route will now serve base hospital before ending at Burger King. For the new schedule, click here.

Route 39 - Busch Boulevard
Adjust running time westbound on Gunn Highway between Linebaugh Avenue and Henderson Road. For the new schedule, click here.

In-Town Trolley Purple Line (Route 96)
Frequency change from 10 to 15 minutes and route adjustments north of Tyler Street. Will no longer serve stops 29, 30 and 31. Click here for a map of the route to locate the stops being eliminated.

In-Town Trolley Green Line (Route 97)
Frequency change from 10 to 15 minutes and route adjustments north of Cumberland Avenue. Will no longer serve stops 51 and 52. Click here for a map of the route to locate the stops being eliminated.

For a printable PDF version of this notice, click here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

HART Continues Forward

HART respects the decision made on Tuesday by our fellow citizens, and appreciates all who came out to vote in this important election.

Today, we're continuing forward, and we invite you to come along as we build a new vision for your public transportation system.

HART's daily bus ridership would fill the stands at the Trop!
Maintaining Our Foundation
Did you know that HART provides about 40,000 rides for our passengers every day? If you put all of those people in one place, they'd just about fill up Tropicana Field!

Those daily rides add up to more than 1 million per month (and while we're making comparisons to the Rays, that's close to the total attendance for the team in a full season).

HART's streak of million-ride months continued in October, with a total of more than 1.1 million passenger trips.

To maintain our service at these high levels, HART is not planning any major cuts or fare increases in the next year. Our fiscal year began October 1, so the FY2011 budget is already in effect. We're on sound financial footing, with all current service accounted for in this budget.

Major Projects Press Ahead
HART is currently working on some major projects to enhance our transit service.
  • Streetcar Extension to Whiting Street
    The TECO Line Streetcar System is moving north, with construction of a 1/3-mile extension and new downtown station stop at Franklin and Whiting streets nearing completion. The new section will allow passengers to travel between Ybor City, Channelside, the convention center area, and Downtown Tampa quickly and easily. In addition, a connection to Route 30 at the new station stop will provide direct access to Tampa International Airport. The extension is scheduled to be operational by the end of this year.
The streetcar extension is nearly finished.
For more on the streetcar's Whiting Street extension, click here.

  • MetroRapid
    HART's Metro Rapid bus rapid transit project continues on schedule. When completed, the MetroRapid system will operate a North-South line between USF and downtown, and an East-West line between HART's Netpark Transfer Center near Temple Terrace and a new transfer center near Tampa International Airport. The first phase of MetroRapid, the North-South line, is expected to open in late 2012.
For more on the MetroRapid project, click here.
  • TIA Transfer Center
    HART, in partnership with several agencies, developed a project to enhance transit service in the Westshore Business District. The project will include the development of a new bus transfer center at Tampa International Airport. The new transfer center will operate as an intermodal hub in the Westshore area, connecting existing and future transit services, including HART local and limited express routes, future regional services operated by Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), and future MetroRapid East West and circulator services. Preliminary work is underway on this project, including surveying and lease agreements.
You'll hear more about our current service and future plans in the coming months. Just know that HART is still here, still providing the best service we can with the resources we have available. We know many people depend on us, and we remain committed to serving you.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Why Transit?

Tampa's transit system has room to grow.
Over the last several days, we've taken a brief tour of HART's Rapid Transit Investment Plan, a comprehensive plan to improve public transportation in Hillsborough County.

And it all leads up to this: why transit?

There are lots of answers to that question, from economic benefits, to more choices for seniors, to adding service to new areas. But all of those things are part of a bigger picture, and that is transit's contribution to our quality of life.

A Lesson from History
As with most cities, the history of Tampa is a story that includes transit. The need to get from place to place easily and efficiently isn't something we invented in our generation. In fact, Tampa's transit past is one of its more interesting stories, as told on the TECO Line Streetcar System's website:
"In their heyday, Tampa's streetcars whisked passengers to and from Ybor City, Ballast Point, Hyde Park, Sulphur Springs and points beyond. Operated by uniformed conductors, the Birney cars were a welcome sight, and the familiar clang of the streetcar bell was music to the ears. To ride the streetcar was to feel the pulse of the community.
Tampa's first electric streetcar lines built in 1892 quickly became an essential part of everyday life as workers took the streetcar downtown and to the cigar factories of west Tampa. And families climbed aboard for a picnic or ball game in DeSoto and Macfarlane parks. Reaching the peak of its popularity in the 1920s with almost 24 million passengers in 1926, Tampa's streetcar system rolled to a stop in August 1946 following World War II."
Yes, you read that right - 24 million passengers rode the streetcar rails in 1926. By comparison, HART recently announced that we carried about 12.8 million passenger trips for fiscal year 2010. 

Tampa transit, circa 1926
 More Choices, More Freedom
We're a long way from 1926, of course. Sprawl has sprawled, roads have taken root, and we've become a "car culture." Conventional wisdom says we're just not willing to give up our cars.

But who says we have to?

Here's an illustration. HART participates in the Emergency Ride Home program administered by Tampa Bay Commuter Services. It's a great way to take some of the worry out of riding transit by ensuring you have a free taxi ride home if you need it. All you have to do to qualify is ride, bike or walk to work at least twice a week. That's it. Twice a week, you decide not to drive alone.

While you're at it, you'll probably save some money. You'll pay less for gas and parking. Maybe you'll find your family can even live with one less car, saving tons on insurance, maintenance, car payments, gas, parking, tolls...

And that's what's possible just by having another choice. Imagine what we could do with a truly strong public transportation system that goes where people want to go, when they want to go.

Back to the Future
Could we see people riding to the tune of 24 million a year again? Hard to say. But doesn't the thought of "climb(ing) aboard for a picnic or a ball game" sound great? And taking public transit to work, as so many did back then, would take an awful lot of stress out of the daily commute.
What will tomorrow's transit system look like?
Today, HART has a plan to make public transportation in Hillsborough County something we can be proud of, something that truly serves the citizens of this great community. We're committed to providing the best transit service we can with the resources available. That's true today, it will be true tomorrow, and it will still be true in the years to come.

To see HART's Rapid Transit Investment Plan, visit our website at www.goHART.org/whytransit.

For more on the TECO Line Streetcar System, go to http://www.tecolinestreetcar.org/

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Just the Facts

Get the facts on Hillsborough County's
transit future!
A popular TV cop show from the 1950s and '60s asked for "Just the facts, ma'am."

Borrowing that line of thinking, let's take a look at some of the facts and figures from HART's Rapid Transit Investment Plan. We'll call it the "who, what, when, where and why" of Hillsborough County's transit future.

Who
The Rapid Transit Investment Plan, or RTIP, was developed by HART to benefit people who live, work and play in Hillsborough County. It focuses on providing more transportation choices to more people, allowing them the freedom to get where they're going faster and more efficiently than ever before.


The RTIP includes benefits for lots of different people:
What
A vastly improved transportation system in Hillsborough County is the RTIP's stated goal. To get there, HART would implement 449 miles of new and enhanced services:
  • Local Bus
    10 new routes - 134 miles of new service in areas not currently served
  • Express Bus
    11 new routes proposed - 225 miles of new service
  • Bus Rapid Transit
    6 new routes proposed - 90 miles of new service
  • Flex and employment circulators
    Serving an approximately 150-square-mile area
  • Paratransit
    Expanded service area coverage in county and increased hours of operation
  • Light Rail Transit
    46 miles and 15 miles of regional connections
When
For starters, bus service would see increases in frequency and hours of service almost immediately. The dates are all estimates right now, but according to the RTIP, in the first 12 months there will be 22 improvements to local route service, three FLEX services launched, the first bus rapid transit service begun and improvements to paratransit service.

Four new express routes, two new local routes, three improvements to current express service, two more improvements to local service, two more FLEX routes and more paratransit improvements will be implemented in the second year. The start date of light rail service is still to be determined.

Where
Well, just about everywhere in Hillsborough County, from Lutz to Ruskin and from Town 'n' Country to Plant City. The RTIP re-draws the transit map in our community to make it more accessible for almost everyone.

See for yourself. Click here to check out the map before and after the improvements.

Click on one of the links below to find out what your area has in store.
Why
Here's one excellent reason to improve our transportation picture.

Tampa Bay traffic is among the worst in the country.
Last March, Forbes magazine ranked Tampa dead last for commuters among 60 U.S. cities. Plus, a recent study by the Texas Transportation Institute found that the typical commuter spends 47 hours per year in traffic, and that Hillsborough County is tenth worst in the nation for commute-time delay.

Some other benefits:
The last two items are courtesy of the American Public Transportation Association.

So, those are the facts. At least some of them, anyway. If you'd like to peruse even more of the details on HART's Rapid Transit Investment Plan, you can find a lot more information on our website, at www.goHART.org/whytransit.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Making the Connection

Yesterday's big news in the transportation world came out of China. A new link in that country's high-speed rail line launched with service between Shanghai and Hangzhou that zips passengers along the 125-mile trip in only 45 minutes.

The top speed? 245 miles per hour.

Check out this report on the line courtesy of Reuters:



On Monday, we also learned that Florida's own high-speed rail effort is getting another $800 million boost from the federal government. Read more on the new federal grant here.

While it may not be exactly on par with the 245-mph behemoth in China, high-speed rail is certainly coming to Tampa Bay. Will we be ready?

Laying the Groundwork for Regional Connections
In case you're still sketchy on the difference between the state's high-speed rail project and Hillsborough County's own proposed light rail system, here's a quick overview.

High-speed rail is, well, rail transit that travels at a high rate of speed. The official definition is a rail line that travels more than 110 mph. Florida's high-speed rail system has received funding from the federal government and is being planned and built by the Florida High-Speed Rail Enterprise, an agency of the State of Florida. No local funding will go into the high-speed rail effort.

The light rail project HART has recommended as part of the Alternatives Analysis study will travel much shorter distances and at more moderate speeds. Although HART is seeking federal funding for the project, a local funding source is also necessary.

Still not quite clear? Get more details on the difference between high-speed and light rail from HART's website, here.

Part of HART's recent work on the Alternatives Analysis and the Rapid Transit Investment Plan has focused on future regional connections, including the high-speed rail line.

One factor in the plans is the fact that the new high-speed rail station is planned for the north end of downtown Tampa, adjacent to HART's Marion Transit Center. If Hillsborough County goes forward with a light rail project, it will also feed into what would become a hub for transportation in the downtown area.

Here's more information on the downtown station as presented at a recent HART open house:

High Speed Rail Station / Intermodal Hub
  • Tampa High Speed Rail Station will be a major intermodal hub
  • Downtown alignment is affected by HSR track alignment and station
  • Station level (1st floor or 2nd floor) for HART project
  • Primary access options into the HSR Station from I-275 are Florida Avenue and
    Nebraska Avenue
  • Coordination with FDOT continues as they update alternatives for the Downtown Access and I-4/I-275 Interchanges
HART continues to work with the Florida Department of Transportation, the Florida High-Speed Rail Enterprise, the Metropolitan Planning Organization and other agencies on coordinating the many transit choices coming our way.

In the meantime, can you imagine what it would be like to travel at 245 miles per hour? For now, it seems only commuters in China and race car drivers know for sure.

For more on HART's Alternatives Analysis, click here.

To learn more about the Rapid Transit Investment Plan, click here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Transit Gets the Economy Moving

Our tour of HART's Rapid Transit Investment Plan continues with a look at how a transit investment can translate into economic opportunity for our community.

Investing in transit can help us build a stronger economy
for Hillsborough County, now and into the future.
Topic number one in just about any discussion on the economy these days comes down to jobs. Just a few days ago, the state's Agency for Workforce Innovation put out the latest unemployment figures for Florida.

The news for Hillsborough County: 12.2% of us are out of work, considerably more than the national total of about 9.5%.

How can investing in transit help put our economy back on track? The answer is two-fold. One, putting people to work on construction, infrastructure and increased service today; and two, providing opportunities for the businesses of tomorrow.

Building the Future
Expanding Hillsborough County's transit system would mean an almost instant increase in available jobs. As noted in a previous post, HART's first order of business should voters approve a new transit investment would be to start beefing up bus service during "off-peak" time periods. More buses on the roads means a need for more people to drive them, and more people to keep them in perfect working order.

In addition, the task of building light rail and bus rapid transit infrastructure would require engineering and construction workers. There would be significant opportunities for local businesses and disadvantaged business enterprise firms as such major projects move forward.

Some hard numbers from the HART Rapid Transit Investment Plan:
  • Local businesses and disadvantaged businesses (DBEs) will have enhanced opportunities to partner with HART. For the 20 year period between 2015-2035, Hillsborough County’s gross domestic product (GDP) would increase by $3.5 billion, with $1.12 billion arising as a result of travel cost savings to users and the remaining $2.38 billion arising from construction activity.
  • For the same time period, over 9,000 job years (one year of full-time employment is a job year) will be created as a result of reduced travel costs for both highway and transit users.
  • Construction activity associated with the capital plan will support an additional 25,000 job years from 2011-2035, for a total of more than 34,000 job years.
Driving Businesses of Tomorrow
Once transit improvements are up and running, economic opportunity turns to the private sector, with benefits for businesses large and small. The corporation looking for locations for a new headquarters or other large hub will find a workforce that can easily get to work on a convenient, reliable transit system. Small businesses can capitalize on the new developments that will grow around transit stations.

More information from the RTIP:
  • Currently, 12% of the county population and employment opportunities are located near areas that offer frequent transit service. The number grows to over 50% under the proposed plan.
  • Approximately 148,000 more jobs will be accessible by transit (20% more) with the bus service improvements, which expands opportunity for employers and employees alike.
In addition, other communities across the country that have made transit improvements have seen a significant return in the form of property values, jobs and tax revenues due to private investment:

  • Phoenix
    $5.9 billion in development
    Property value increases range from 129% to 429%
  • Salt Lake City
    $2.8 billion in development
    Support 30,000 jobs at completion of development plans
  • Charlotte
    $3.1 billion in development
    Generated over $5.7 million in local taxes
  • Dallas
    $1 billion in development at recently added stations
    Property values at stations 39% higher for residential and 53% higher for office buildings
So while there's no single solution to our economic issues, transit is an important tool in our toolbox because it can help provide jobs, give people better access to jobs, and create opportunities for businesses.

Information of benefits of expanded transit comes from a Cambridge Systematics report on the economic impacts of transit in Hillsborough County, and the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization. For a presentation on the Cambridge Systematics report, click here.

For a printable version of the economic benefits of transit from HART's Rapid Transit Investment Plan, click here.

For an overview of the Rapid Transit Investment Plan, click here.