|Transit can help make Tampa's future bright.|
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.