Monday, February 28, 2011

Free Rides Return on Election Day

Show your voter's registration card at boarding
and ride HART local routes free March 1.
Tomorrow is a big day in the City of Tampa. For the first time in eight years, a new face is about to take up residence in the mayor's office at City Hall.

HART is ready to help you exercise your right to vote in this important election. When you board any HART local route on Election Day, Tuesday, March 1, just show your voter's registration card to ride for free. That's it!

If you need to find your polling place, you can enter your information in the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections website. Just remember, tomorrow's election is for City of Tampa races only. You must be a registered voter within the city limits to vote.

Still looking for information on the candidates? Here are some resources from the St. Petersburg Times and Tampa Tribune that can help you wade through all of the issues:

St. Petersburg Times Election Coverage on

Tampa Tribune's Coverage at Politics

So now you can read up on the candidates one last time, make sure you know where your polling place is, and count on HART to get you there.

Just goes to show, we're "Driven to Serve You" on Election Day - and every day!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Top 15 Smart Transportation Cities

Transit can help make Tampa's future bright.
What does it take to be a "smart transportation city"?

A study by the National Resources Defense Council and the Center for Neighborhood Technology released this week has the answer.

Things like walkability, access to transit for a majority of residents, and innovative ways to incorporate alternatives to driving are all important factors.

The Tampa Bay area isn't on the list this year, but it's interesting to look at the criteria and see what lessons can be learned from it.

Broken down into large, medium and small regions, the 15 smart transportation cities are Boston; Chicago; Philadelphia; Portland, Ore.; New York; San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; Boulder-Longmont, Colo.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Jersey City, N.J.; New Haven, Conn.; Champaign-Urbana, Ill.; Bremerton, Wash.; Lincoln, Neb.; and Yolo, Calif.

The president of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Scott Bernstein, stresses what he calls "'location efficient' places — with essential services that are nearby or accessible by many transportation modes" as an important element of smart transportation cities.

"Cities and regions that foster compact, walkable, transit-rich communities can reduce reliance on automobiles and help lower at least one expense for households struggling to get by in the current economy," Bernstein notes in the study's introduction.

In particular, an area like Portland, one of the large-market regions on the list, is known for the success of its neighborhoods that feature transit-oriented development.

Smaller cities that made the list came up with innovations like a $7.50 monthly pass in Lincoln, and dedicated pathways for bicyclists and pedestrians in Boulder.

Here in Hillsborough County, we've been working on innovative solutions to our own transportation issues. One successful system we've recently launched is the HART Flex neighborhood service, which offers more personalized transit service for passengers within a number of local zones. HART Flex allows our customers to travel where they want, when they want, and improves operational efficiency for HART so we can make the best use of our resources.

HART is also proposing three new HART Flex zones that would begin operation in July: Town N' Country Flex, Northdale Flex and South Tampa Flex. Click here to see the proposed July service changes.

In addition, we've started work on the area's first bus rapid transit system, MetroRapid. With limited stops, advanced technology and enhanced passenger stations, the first two MetroRapid lines will usher in a new, faster way to get around Hillsborough County.

Will Tampa Bay be a "smart transportation city" next year? We'll see. In the meantime, HART is working to make your transit service the best it can be.

Click here for details on HART Flex service.

To learn more about HART's MetroRapid, click here.

For more information on the study, check out Metro Magazine's coverage, including a link to the study itself, here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Be a Part of the Future of HART

You can offer comments at an upcoming
HART public meeting.
With record ridership numbers still coming in , Hillsborough County residents have shown that public transportation is an important asset in our community.

But there's always room for improvement, and we need your help to make HART service even better. HART is proposing a number of changes that will streamline service, making our operations more efficient. As always, before we implement any changes, we need to hear from you. We're holding a series of open-house style public meetings starting next Tuesday to gather your comments on the proposals. There will also be one public hearing on March 17th.

Please join us at any of the following locations for more information and to offer your input:

Open house meetings
Tuesday, March 1, 2011, 6:30 p.m.
Brandon Chamber of Commerce
330 Pauls Drive #100, Brandon, 33511

Thursday, March 3, 2011, 6:30 p.m.
Kate Jackson Community Center
821 S. Rome Avenue, Tampa, 33606

Wednesday, March 9, 2011, 6:30 p.m.
Temple Terrace Public Library
202 Bullard Parkway, Temple Terrace, 33617

Thursday, March 10, 2011, 4:30 p.m.
HART West Tampa Transfer Center
4201 N. Himes Avenue, Tampa 33607

Tuesday, March 15, 2011, 6:30 p.m.
Town N’ Country Regional Public Library
7606 Paula Drive, Suite 120, Tampa, 33615

Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 6:30 p.m.
SouthShore Regional Library
15816 Beth Shields Way, Ruskin, 33573

Public hearing
Thursday, March 17, 2011, 4 to 6 p.m.
TECO Plaza, TECO Hall North Conference Room
702 N. Franklin Street, Tampa, 33602, downtown Tampa

Proposals Shorten Routes, Improve Frequency, Consolidate Service
Some of the changes will improve travel time on certain routes. For example, one of the longest routes in HART's system, the South Hillsborough County to downtown path traveled by Route 31, would be shortened to improve frequency from the current two hours to one hour. In addition, Route 30 between downtown and Town N' Country via the Tampa International Airport will be divided into two new routes for increased efficiency.

In some cases, we're proposing to replace a low-ridership circulator route with the popular new HART Flex service, a neigborhood-based option that offers more personalized service.

We believe changes like these, and the rest of the proposals outlined below, will help us provide better service for all of our customers.

Keep reading for short descriptions of all proposed changes, and click here for maps and more from HART's website.

South County
  • Replace Route 87 (Southshore Connector) with expanded community Flex service providing timed connections to Routes 31 and 53LX (proposed route).
  • Replace Route 35LX (Brandon/Southshore Limited Express) with Route 53LX (South County/Brandon via US 301) providing expanded service between South County and the Westfield Brandon Mall via US 301
  • Discontinue Westfield Brandon mall to downtown Tampa service on Route 31 (South Hillsborough), improving frequency from 2 hours to 1 hour between South County and the Westfield Brandon mall. Passengers who wish to continue travel to downtown can connect to Routes 8 and 46 at the mall.
Brandon Area
  • Begin new Route 26X (North Brandon/MacDill AFB Express) to provide express service between North Brandon and MacDill AFB. This route will replace one morning and one afternoon trip on Route 24X, and one morning and one afternoon trip on Route 25LX.
  • Reduce Routes 24X (FishHawk/Riverview/MacDill AFB Express) and 25LX (South Brandon/MacDill AFB Limited Express) by one trip each in the AM and PM; these trips will be added to the new Route 26X.
  • Reduce Route 46 (West Brandon/Davis Islands) to rush hour service only
Temple Terrace
  • Replace Route 23X (Temple Terrace Express) with limited stop trips on Route 6 (56th St.)
Northwest County
  • To improve schedule reliability, split Route 30 (Town ‘N Country) into two routes: Route 29 (Downtown to Tampa International Airport via Kennedy Boulevard) and new Route 30 (Town ‘N Country to Tampa International Airport)
  • Replace Route 59LX (Westchase/Town ‘N Country Limited Express) with new Route 61X (Town ‘N Country/Westshore/Downtown Tampa)
  • Replace Route 88 (Town ‘N Country Connector) with Town ‘N Country Flex. Route to run 6:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. versus rush hour only for Route 88
  • To improve schedule reliability, Route 16 will operate on Waters Ave. between Hanley Road and Northwest Transfer Center. Service will be provided by Town ‘N Country Flex
Carrollwood Area
  • Extend Route 20X to Land O’ Lakes in Pasco County
  • To improve schedule reliability, split Route 36 (Dale Mabry Highway/Himes Avenue) into two routes: Route 36 (N. Dale Mabry Highway/Himes Avenue) and Route 38 (S. Dale Mabry Highway/MacDill AFB). Route to be split at West Tampa Transfer Center
  • Begin new Northdale Flex to serve Dale Mabry Highway corridor between Fletcher Avenue and St. Joseph's Hospital North
  • Mission Bell to be north terminus for Route 36, west terminus for Route 33 (Fletcher Ave.) and south terminus for Northdale Flex
South Tampa
  • Replace Route 89 (South Tampa Connector) with new South Tampa Flex
Be sure to stop by one of the meetings listed above and let us know what you think! We'll consider every comment; final recommendations will be on the agenda of the HART Board of Directors at their April 4, 2011 meeting, for implementation in July 2011.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Transit in the News

We've got all the latest transit news for you!
There have been quite a few developments on the state and local transit scene lately. Here's a round-up of what people are talking about right now.

Governor Nixes High-Speed Rail
Florida's newly minted chief executive, Gov. Rick Scott, announced today that the state would not accept the federal government's funding for a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando. Read some of the coverage below.

Tampa Bay Business Journal (heads up - may require subscription)
Gov. Rick Scott turns down high-speed rail funding
You can also answer the Journal's survey question on the governor's decision here.
Tampa leaders: Scott's rejection hurts area's recovery
Dems, Republicans criticize Scott for rejecting rail money
Local leaders react strongly to Scott's decision to pull plug on high speed rail

HART, PSTA Plan for the Future
The HART and PSTA Boards of Directors met this week to discuss ways to work together on making transit improvements in the area. One idea that might gain some traction in the future: a light rail line across Tampa Bay.

WMNF Radio
Pinellas & Hillsborough transit agencies consider rail over Tampa Bay

Test Driving Rail?
In addition to discussions with Pinellas County on a future partnership, HART has suggested a possible "demonstration line," a shorter light rail system that would offer Tampa residents a chance to see how such a project could work. The facts and figures are still being evaluated, but if successful, a downtown-to-airport line could carry residents and visitors in a whole new way.

WMNF Radio
HART may build demonstration rail line to airport
HART exploring 'demonstration' light rail line

What do you think of all these developments? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

See the Lights and Ride Free!

While you're viewing the lights, stop by the streetcar's
new Whiting St. station to catch our own light show!
Downtown Tampa lights up the night when the popular "Lights on Tampa" event returns this Saturday, February 19th, and HART has a great way to help you get in on the fun. We're offering free rides on the In-Town Trolley Green Line all night long! Keep reading to find out how to get your free coupon...

Art and Light
Lights on Tampa is a modern take on public art, combining creativity and technology in works that twinkle, sparkle and dance in the night sky, created by some of the finest light artists in the world.

Curtis Hixon Park, next to the new Glazer Children's Museum, is the center of the event. Here you'll see light exhibits that will complement the feel of the emerging Arts District venues surrounding it. From there, you can visit other light displays between downtown and Channelside. For a map of the venues, plus information on the displays, click here.

And be sure to visit our own permanent addition to the lightscape - the new TECO Line Streetcar System station at Whiting and Franklin streets features a color-changing light show titled "Siteliner," created by artist James Woodfill, that you won't want to miss.

Visit the Lights on Tampa website to download
your official free rides coupon.
On Saturday night only, you can travel between all the exhibits onboard the In-Town Trolley Green Line for free from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m.! Just click here to print out the coupon, then show it to the driver when you hop onboard. That's it! The Green Line can connect you to the TECO Line Streetcar System for access to the Channel District or Ybor City.

Taking the Green Line makes parking a breeze, too. You can park in any of the downtown, Channel District or Ybor City garages and catch a ride on the streetcar or trolley to visit all of the exhibits. Just be sure to note, the free ride coupons are valid only on the rubber-wheel In-Town Trolleys. Regular fares on the TECO Line Streetcar System will apply.

To check out the parking options, visit the City of Tampa's parking info here.

For more information on Lights on Tampa, visit the event website,

Thursday, February 10, 2011

RU 4 Transit? Let Your Voice B Heard

When one person speaks, sometimes it's hard to be heard.

But when 100,000 people speak together, you can't miss the message.

That's the idea behind a new campaign called "IM 4 Transit," an online and social media transit advocacy initiative in Florida sponsored by the Florida Public Transportation Association.

Noting that "most Floridians favor public transit and want Florida transit to be as convenient as it was in their hometowns of New York, Philadelphia, Boston, etc," the campaign aims to plug in everyday people who just want better transportation choices in their "new" Florida hometowns.

A New Way to Move People
Once upon a time (not all that long ago, really), if someone wanted to call attention to an issue or a cause, they might circulate a petition. Today's online communities are a powerful force for change, and IM 4 Transit aims to mobilize those virtual communities right where they gather.

The main website,, is the hub of information, with news and updates on the campaign. Once you sign up (which is FREE, btw), informative e-newsletters will hit your inbox, with a link you can use to forward to your contacts.

For you social media gurus, you can also follow the effort on the IM 4 Transit Twitter page,  and "like" the Facebook page.

More about the mission of IM 4 Transit, from the website:
  • IM4Transit is a campaign of the Board of the Florida Public Transportation Association to identify, recruit, and mobilize at least 100,000 pro-transit Floridians.
  • IM4Transit is a ready community of transit supporters in Florida that can be mobilized “to give transit a voice” during transit-related debates in the public marketplace of ideas.
  • We are nonpartisan and have no views outside our core mission of educating the public and elected officials about the benefits and importance of public transportation to Florida.
  • We are a virtual community of transit riders, employees and stakeholders sustained by social media, web, and e-newsletters.
If you want to see more and better transportation choices here in Tampa Bay, IM 4 Transit is one place to start. Visit the website, sign up, and start spreading the word about the benefits of transit to your friends - real and virtual.

Click here to join, and see what can happen when thousands of Floridians speak with one voice.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

HART Keeps Going, and Going, and Going, and...

More service, new buses, and even some new paint
have helped HART reach new heights.
The numbers are in for January, and HART has picked up right where we left off at the end of 2010 - with another ridership record.

January 2011 saw yet another million-plus month for HART, with a total of 1,122,962 rides. That total is also a significant increase year-to-year, up 18.2% over January 2010.

What's fueling this success? HART CEO David Armijo credits a number of factors.

"Essentially, HART has improved the product and service we provide to our customers," Mr. Armijo said. "The growth we're seeing is a positive response from our riders to the changes we've made."

He notes that those changes include major improvements like increasing service hours and adding shelters, along with more subtle changes like re-tooling the fleet.

"There is now one shelter for every seven bus stops, which is about twice as many as before," Mr. Armijo added. "We've added more late night and weekend service, improved service frequency, repainted many buses, and brought brand-new buses into service to make our passengers' onboard experience a pleasant one."

"With a 22% growth in ridership over the last three years, while holding costs down 20%, people in our community are taking notice of the good things happening at HART, and we appreciate the trust they've placed in us by getting onboard in such record numbers."

Those record ridership numbers are only possible through the support of our friends, customers and hard-working employees. Thanks to everyone who helped get 2011 off to such a great start! We're proud to serve the community of Hillsborough County and look forward to working together to build on our success throughout the year.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Does Transit Make a Difference? Just Ask Madeleine!

Gasparilla-goers took nearly 20,000 rides on HART this year.
It's all in a day's work for us!
How did you spend your Gasparilla? Did you you head downtown and circle around for hours looking for a parking spot, before finally giving up and going home?

Or did you do what Madeleine did?

Here's a comment she posted over on HART's Facebook page:

"I drove 3 miles to UATC, caught the 11:30 route 5 to Ybor, hopped on the shuttle and had a spot steps from where I got dropped off, right on the rail at Bayshore and Platt by 12:40. Maybe if HART ran the parade, IT would be on time. Had a blast. Thanks."

Madeleine's was one of the 19,822 trips taken on HART bus, streetcar and trolley service last Saturday for the Gasparilla Pirate Fest and Parade.

That number outpaced last year's total of about 16,000 trips.

Events like Gasparilla, the Super Bowl (2009), and political conventions (coming in 2012) show just how important a vibrant transit system can be in a community. Getting thousands of people where they need to go quickly, efficiently and safely is job #1.

But it isn't just during big events that transit moves a lot of people. At HART, we do that every day.

On an average weekday, HART carries about 45,000 rides, and about 1 million rides every month. In fact, a recent report by the Texas Transportation Institute estimated that without transit, Tampa Bay area residents would spend an additional million hours a year in traffic. We also help people save money on gas, tolls and parking by providing a convenient alternative to driving. Whether you live in Fishhawk Ranch or Town 'n' Country, or somewhere in between, HART has park-n-ride services that can take you to work the easy and hassle-free way.

Plus, HART is adding new ways to move people with the recently introduced HART Flex neighborhood circulator service, and the MetroRapid bus rapid transit system currently under construction.

And more service is now available downtown with the newly expanded TECO Line Streetcar System.

So HART is there for you every day, whether it's your Tuesday commute, Friday lunch hour, or a glorious Saturday Gasparilla.

Can that make a difference in your day? Just ask Madeleine.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In the Spirit of Freedom

This card honoring Mrs. Parks' contribution to freedom
appears on all HART buses.

 "I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free... so other people would be also free. " - Rosa Parks

In 1955, a seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama, boarded the bus for home. That bus trip turned out to be a ride into history.

When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat for a white fellow passenger, she helped to spark a revolution that stays with us to this day. And it all started on a bus.

To celebrate Black History Month and in the spirit of Mrs. Parks, who would come to be known as the mother of the civil rights movement, HART is proud to recognize four African-American citizens who have made a difference right here in Tampa Bay.

• Gwen Miller, Chairwoman of the Tampa City Council

• Pat Spencer, Secretary of the Hillsborough County NAACP; serves on the Hillsborough County Civil Service Board

• Clarence Fort, Organizer of the Tampa Martin Luther King Jr. parade

• Alison A. Hewitt, Chairwoman of the HART Board; President of the Central Florida Chapter of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials

Tampa's Transit History
This month's "Next Stop with HART" report takes a closer look at the fascinating story of Tampa's transit history and how it intertwines with the battle for civil rights. Click here to see this very special report, airing this month on CTTV.

For more about HART's recognition of local African-American leaders, click here.

Learn about Rosa Parks' story, her role in the fight for equality, and her lasting legacy at the Parks Institute website here.