Friday, July 22, 2011

Still Driven to Serve

Recently, the HART Board Finance, Governance, and Administration Committee voted to advance the 2012-2021 HART Transit Development Plan (TDP). The full HART Board will vote on adopting the plan at the August 1 meeting. We have given an overview of the TDP and the process before. Basically, it's a ten year plan to make transit options more attractive over the next ten years. Agencies are required by FDOT to submit a TDP for funding grants.

In our 2012-2021 TDP, we provided to FDOT an outlook of the agency, looking at our guiding principles for transit projects and our projected funding. Following the defeat of the referendum in November, we lost a major potential funding source for the Rapid Transit Investment Plan, which included light rail. The plan we submit annually, must be realistic and without a funding source for those projects (whether it is Bus Rapid Transit, light rail, heavily expanded bus service etc.), it simply isn't realistic at this point.

Our current vision (which was drafted through two different phases of community feedback) is a bus-oriented plan. The plan includes:
  • More service on existing local and express routes
  • New local and express service
  • Additional/expanded Flex service
  • Additional paratransit
  • MetroRapid expansion
  • Transit signal prioritization
  • More supporting capital facilities (bus replacements, park and rides, shelter improvements)
These are seen as necessary improvements in order to make transit more appealing over the next ten years. Buses are not "sexy," but they are necessary, and that is the direction HART is currently going towards. We are getting back to basics, with a meat and potatoes plan.

Now, here is the thing. The TDP is submitted annually, with a major update every five years (which we just submitted). Should a new potential funding source become available again in the near future, the plan can be altered to include rapid transit options (BRT, light rail, etc.).

Fear not, Hillsborough County resident, HART hasn't given up on rapid transit options. Our mission hasn't changed. We are continuing to plan for ways to meet Hillsborough County's current and future needs, by finding ways to efficiently and effectively move people around the county. The tools may have changed for now, but the job remains the same.

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