Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Recap of June 20 HART Finance Committee Meeting

Highlights of the Transit Development Plan (TDP) were presented during the most recent HART Board Finance, Governance & Administration Committee meeting, held June 20. 

The TDP is a 10-year transportation blueprint and business plan for HART to meet the mobility needs of this community. The State of Florida requires local transit agencies to produce yearly progress reports of their TDP and undertake a major update of it every five years. This year, HART is undertaking a major update.

Visit http://www.gohart.org/TDP for TDP info
  Since April, HART has been seeking public input for its TDP, receiving feedback from residents on the types of new and enhanced transit services they would like see over the next decade. In addition to public input, the HART Planning Department has been incorporating new available data into the TDP update, such as 2010 Census numbers, ridership trends and funding projections. An overarching vision plan has been developed, as well as an action plan, which focuses on bus service and other cost-affordable strategies.

Residents may view the most current TDP at http://www.gohart.org/tdp, where they can also submit their feedback. The TDP is scheduled to be finalized in August.  
Leading into the TDP presentation, Betty Kennedy of Baycare highlighted Legislative Transportation Days, a recent example of how more legislators, businesses and community leaders are becoming aware about the benefits and challenges of public transportation.   

HART Board Member Sandra Murman
hosts a group for
Legislative Transportation Awareness Day
During May, HART partnered with Baycare to host this successful event, which created awareness about the important role public transportation plays in decreasing the cost of healthcare and dependency on government programs. For instance, by teaching people to use public transit to get to their doctor's appointments for preventative care, less taxpayer money is spent on expensive hospital room stays for emergency care.

More than 50 legislators, business owners and community leaders participated in Legislative Transportation Awareness Days, including representatives from the offices of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis and Kathy Castor.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman hosted a mixed group of business, community and state leaders for a tour of the route 30 running from Downtown Tampa/Tampa International Airport to Town ‘n Country.  The group caught the bus heading west from Marion Transit Way in downtown, for lunch at Westshore Plaza.  Shortly after lunch, the group was on its way back to downtown.  Overall, the group was impressed with the cleanliness, convenience, and cost of the service.

Upcoming Meetings

In honor of Independence Day, the HART Board will not have its regular meeting Monday, July 4. The next Finance Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 18, 9 a.m., at the HART Ybor Office. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tired of Gas Prices? SHOW US!

Gas is almost $1 higher a gallon than it was last year.  Are you tired of this rollercoaster ride?  Tired of $80 fillups?  SHOW US and you could receive two 31-day fare cards!  Help HART foil the oil!

We are asking our friends to send photos to Facebook@goHART.org of how you feel about high gas prices and what you're doing to combat high gas prices.  Maybe it's a photo of you pulling your hair out (figuratively!) over another $80 fillup, you duking it out with your pump or, simply you on HART or biking to work. The key is to be creative!
You can send multiple photos, but only your best photo will be considered.  HART will take submissions for one month (June 16 - July 15). 

HART staff will select the top two photos.
1st Place:
2 - 31 day HART Fare Cards (valued at $120)
2nd Place:
1 - 31 day HART Fare Card (valued at $60)

Keep the photos clean (oil is a dirty subject), but have fun with it!

The photos will be posted to the HART Facebook beginning July 18.  You can find HART on Facebook by clicking here.  Fare card recipients will be notified via email by July 22.

Foil the oil and start with HART!  One month of unlimited rides on HART for the price of an average weekly fill up.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tackling the TDP... We Need Your Help!

HART is in the process of updating our Transit Development Plan (TDP). The TDP is a plan to serve the mobility needs of Hillsborough County residents, employees and visitors over the next 10 years. HART is currently undergoing a major update to the plan, which is required every 5 years. Throughout the months of April and May, HART staffers were out in the community gathering feedback on the Needs phase of the plan. The Needs phase of the TDP asked for community comments on what the county's transportation needs were. This is what we received...

HART staff collected this data, looked at variables that could affect HART over the next 10 years, and drafted the 2012-2021 Vision Plan. The Vision Plan will be used to guide HART transit planning over the next 10 years.

Staff also reviewed HART revenues currently available to HART and projected out the amount of funding that would be available to HART over the next 10 years. These projections led to the creation of the Status Quo Plan. Basically, the Status Quo plan looks at what projects and services HART could take on with existing funding.

The two plans are currently in draft form. This is where you come in...

Just like the first phase of the plan, HART is asking for feedback on the plans from the community. You can find the Transit Development Plan on the HART website here. There you can look at an overview of the two plans and even leave us comments on the plans via the web.

This is your chance to help shape the direction of transit planning in Hillsborough County over the next 10 years.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Study Finds Public Transportation can Replicate Car Benefits via Accessible Mobile Information

HART social media outlets
Does the idea of navigating a transit system intimidate you? A new transit study from Next American City Magazine and Latitude Research suggests that new, real-time technology (i.e. apps, social media, etc.) allowing riders to make decisions in real-time, makes transit sexier and equal to the automobile experience.

The study which featured 18 car commuters voluntarily going car-free for a week, found that "while users value the freedom and control a car provides, mobile information solutions could replicate this sense of autonomy without needing to own a car—primarily by helping users to make informed, in-the-moment decisions about what’s available near them and the best ways to get around".

The "freedom" of the open road
Basically, commuters want freedom. Traditionally, cars and other motor vehicles have been associated with freedom, as showcased by the 1969 film, Easy Rider, featuring Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda cruising across the United States on motorcycles in search of true America.

Participants in the study cited "convenience, flexibility, and control" as the chief advantages of the car. However, this study finds that transit can "replicate these 'experience-based' benefits" from users who travel without a car. Transit becomes more accessible and flexible when riders are provided the tools to plan their trips on-the-go.

The majority of participants found that in addition to the freedom that transit provides, money savings and health benefits could lead them to reduce their car use and even give up their cars completely.

Below are some highlights from the study:

Technology levels the playing field between public transportation and the automobile. "Comfort," "status," etc. all were not named by participants as benefits of driving. Being in "control" however, was noted as one of the biggest benefits of driving, which the study notes that new technology provides transit users. Applications now provide riders with maps, real-time and scheduled arrival times, and customer service and interaction via social media.

The automobile takes away your sense of community. Twice as many participants than expected, felt more "integrated into their communities" as a result of giving up their car.
“This week I’ve really enjoyed walking along Market Street and discovering what a fantastic city I live in,” explains Mark V., a study participant from San Francisco. “I always knew it was a great place to live, but being forced to rely on public transportation only reinforced this."
Car free benefits go beyond the user. Top three motivators amongst the participants were "better for the environment," "money-saving" and "healthier". Car-free lifestyles benefit everyone. Public Transportation can save an individual up to $10,000 annually in car savings, along with commuter tax benefits provided by employers. Public Transportation saves 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (which affect the Earth's temperature) and 4.2 billion gallons of gas in the United States annually. Taking the bus also helps to meet the recommended 30 minutes of moderate daily exercise.

It's an interesting look at how the mediums used to receive information, entertainment, and social interaction continue to evolve. Patrons can now watch TV, order food and find out the next scheduled arrival of their bus, all on their smartphones. Technology continues to change the way we live.

Do you agree with the findings? Does the control, convenience and flexibility provided by modern technology place public transportation on equal playing ground with the automobile? Would you be willing to try a car-free diet?

If you're interested in a further look at the study, it's a three part blog series which can be found on Next American City's blog, here.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Moving You to Safety...

Did you know that HART is an official Hurricane Evacuation Partner for Hillsborough County?  Learn how HART is here for Hillsborough County residents should a hurricane threaten.

For more information on HART Emergency Evacuation Service, click here.