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


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!

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.