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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Here's Looking at You, Plant City

Still have questions about HART's future plans? In the next few days, we'll highlight some elements of the plan to help answer those questions.

Today, we're headed east to visit our friends in the Plant City area.

Live in the strawberry capital? We've got plans for you!
Plan for Plant City
You'll remember that HART recently hosted a Town Call meeting, answering questions from members of the community about transit and the improvements that could be expected from the proposed 1-cent sales tax.

During the event, Jesse from Plant City called in to say there didn't seem to be much in the plan to benefit eastern Hillsborough County.

Jesse, this post is for you.

Take a look at today's maps and you can't help but notice that Plant City doesn't have any bus service at all. The closest you get is an express route that reaches as far as Dover. Some of our Plant City customers take advantage of a park-n-ride location served by the Dover express route, but that's a far cry from having reliable local routes that serve Plant City proper.

But we've got a plan for that. HART's Rapid Transit Investment Plan would ensure that residents of Plant City have the public transportation service they need.

Here's a little background on just how things got this way.

Although it's one of the four jurisdictions in HART's general service area, (unincorporated Hillsborough County and the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City), Plant City is not a member of HART and doesn't pay into the agency's operations, as the others do.

Several years ago, Plant City contracted with HART to provide some local service to the city. HART created the Strawberry Connector, consisting of four bus routes that served the Plant City area. A few years later, the city discontinued the contract with HART to start up and run its own bus line.

Unfortunately, budget constraints forced Plant City to give up its service in June of 2008. You can read about the end of Plant City's self-operated service here.

Hillsborough County's Sunshine Line continues to provide medical transportation for some Plant City area residents who need it, but otherwise public transportation in Plant City has been non-existent for more than two years.

Future in Motion
Should the proposed 1-cent transportation sales tax be approved by voters on November 2, Plant City will once again be a city in motion.

According to HART's Rapid Transit Investment Plan, Plant City and eastern Hillsborough County would see the following transit service introduced over the next few years:
  • New local bus routes
    - Plant City to Netpark
    - Thonotosassa
  • New Flex service
    - Seffner
    - Plant City
    - East Hillsborough/Gibsonton
  • New Express bus service
    - Plant City to Downtown
  • Increased frequency of buses on existing routes
    - Routes 15, 32, 34, 39, 57, 28X
  • Expanded service hours
    - 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays on all local routes (till midnight on selected routes)
    - 24 hours on some routes
    - Additional weekend hours
So the end result is that an area with no public transportation at all would finally see its service return. That's a big change for the better. And with all that new service and expansion of existing service for the Plant City area, you can definitely say there's something in it for you!

Click here for a printable version of transit benefits for Plant City and eastern Hillsborough County.

For more details on HART's Rapid Transit Investment Plan, click here.

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Comments to this blog are moderated by HART staff. Constructive comments are welcome; any obscene, threatening, or otherwise inappropriate comments will be deleted before posting. Questions about specific service ("is my bus on time?") cannot be answered here, and should be directed to the HARTinfo Line at (813) 254-HART (4278). General questions may be addressed in future posts.