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Monday, October 25, 2010

S.O.S. (Serving Our Seniors)

HART's transit plan is designed for
today's active seniors.
Today, we continue our trip around HART's Rapid Transit Investment Plan with a closer look at what it would mean for Hillsborough County's vital senior population.

If you're of a "certain age" (and we promise we'll never tell!), you might have found that getting around isn't quite as easy as it used to be. Fighting traffic is less than appealing - what is it with these road-raging drivers, anyway? - and you don't want to keep asking others for help.

Wouldn't it be great if there were a safe, reliable way you could get around on your own, and regain your independence?

Well, HART has a plan to improve transit in Hillsborough County, and services for our seniors play a very important part in it.

A Strong Foundation
OK, you're probably thinking. You've heard a little about this rail thing, and while it may sound great, it's years away. What good is a plan that doesn't get you where you need to go now?

What you may not realize is that there's a lot more to the plan than rail.

HART's Rapid Transit Investment Plan represents the largest expansion of public transit service in Hillsborough County in decades, including investments in bus service, neighborhood flex routes, and a new light rail system.

You might notice that in the description of the plan in that last sentence, the first item on the list is bus service. That's because buses are, and will continue to be, the foundation of HART. Because we'll start building on bus service first, you'll see an almost immediate impact once the plan is launched.

Some of the improvements that will impact seniors, according to the plan:

More Buses More Often
More Paratransit service for people with disabilities
  • More and improved access to entire HART system
  • Less wait time and improved transfers to and from Tampa International Airport, malls, and retail centers, plus more service to grocery stores, post offices, and other destinations
  • More direct and faster service to USF area facilities like the VA Hospital, Moffitt Cancer Center, and MOSI
  • More frequent service to Downtown Tampa and destinations such as the Tampa Art Museum, Straz Center for the Performing Arts, the St. Pete Times Forum, and city and county government centers
  • Increased frequency of buses on existing routes, meaning more midday service to get you back and forth to appointments, shopping, and visits with friends
  • New local routes, providing better access around your neighborhood
  • New Express routes serving USF, MacDill AFB, Downtown Tampa, Brandon, and Westshore, which means you can get around the county faster
  • New bus transfer centers in Brandon and Ruskin
  • New Flex service, providing curb-to-curb local service in selected areas across the county
  • Light rail service (Long-Term)
  • Express bus connections to rail
    - High-speed rail (Short-Term)
    - Light rail (Long-Term)
What all this means is that with an improved transit system, your time can be your own again. Imagine the freedom of going to doctors' appointments, running errands and visiting friends whenever you like. Getting to the airport and catching a flight to see the grandkids. Going to museums, shows, shopping - whatever you want to do. More frequent service would mean less time between buses, more efficient transfers, and more flexible, direct service to spots within your neighborhood.

For a generation of seniors who aren't showing any signs of slowing down, mobility matters. That's why improvements in public transportation can help make these "golden years" truly productive, independent and - dare we say? - even fun!

For a printable PDF version of benefits of the Rapid Transit Investment Plan for seniors, click here.

To learn more about the overall 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.