Thursday, September 29, 2011

HART High Five: Mark Sheppard, Travel Trainer

We're introducing a new series titled "HART High Fives," which will recognize HART employees that have recently received commendations from patrons. We'd like to share a letter from Liz, who takes care of Brenda, the focus of this letter.

Congratulations to Mark Sheppard, Travel Trainer, who received this high five:

"An interesting thing occurred last month while Brenda was taking the bus to her doctor's appointment ... She lives right off of West Waters Avenue and went to her bus stop across from the Walgreens near her home and waited for the Route 16 bus, which her iPad said would get there by a certain time.

When it was 15 minutes past the time it was supposed to arrive, Brenda did an amazing thing. She called HART and found out that the [scheduled] time had been changed since the last time she had been to that doctor, and the bus would be arriving in about 10 minutes.

She waited for it but realized en route that she would be late for her appointment if she got off the bus at a designated bus stop rather than right in front of the doctor's office. She asked for a courtesy stop, but they were not able to.

She was dropped off at the next stop, past the doctor's office, and she figured out in which direction she would have to walk to get to her doctor's office. She arrived 5 minutes late, but that was no big deal.

Someone who doesn't know Brenda would wonder what was so special about what happened that day. You know Brenda and her cognitive abilities. This type of independent behavior would have been totally absent if not for YOUR travel training expertise and the time you spent with her PLUS all the experience and confidence she has gained through accessing HART's public transportation on a daily basis for the past five or six years.

She takes the bus to a couple of different doctors' offices, to the public library, three different malls, her credit union and the Super Wal-Mart on Henderson, to name a few. She is now asking if she can take it to night school (Chamberlain). It has freed my time up considerably and given her a level of confidence and independence. She's now able to have so much control of her life.

Thank you, Mark, from the bottom of my heart, for taking that time so very long ago to make Brenda the independent traveler that she is today."

- Liz Price

Mark Sheppard has been with HART since 2003 and is nationally recognized in the industry for his travel training work. Sheppard has been honored by a number of organizations, including: the Florida Diagnostics & Learning Resources System, Center for Urban Research, Council for Exceptional Children and the USF College of Education. Sheppard plans on hitting a milestone, when he trains his 1000th "trainee" in December 2011 or January 2012.

Here's a HART high five to Mark for all his great work. We're glad to have him as a member of the HART family!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hispanic heritage events throughout Tampa Bay!

National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 - October 15 and celebrates the culture, contributions and histories of our friends and neighbors whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

There are a number of events coming up in celebration of the month. Below is a listing of several events planned throughout Tampa Bay.

"Gitano" (Gypsy)

Elio Lopez art on display - Sept. 1 - 30

The Kotler Art Gallery, at the John F. Germany Library, has Spanish-American, Elio Lopez's artwork on display throughout the month of September, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.  The event is free to the public.

Examples of Elio Lopez's work can be found at his website -

MOSI $10 Admission - Sept. 15 - Oct. 15

Head on over to MOSI throughout National Hispanic Heritage Month, for $10 general admission! Some restrictions apply. Visit for details.

27th Annual Hispanic Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner - Sept. 29, 6 p.m.

Hosted by the Sheriff's Hispanic Advisory Council, this annual dinner recognizes personnel of the Sherrif's Office for their outstanding service and also awards scholarships to deserving students. The event costs $40.00, and includes dinner and entertainment.

Our Hispanic Heritage Bookmark Contest

The Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with three annual contests.
  • Kindergarten - 5th grade students may enter the Our Hispanic Heritage Bookmark Contest
  • 6th - 12th grade students may enter the Our Hispanic Heritage Poster Contest
  • Adults (age 18 and older) may enter the Our Hispanic Heritage Poetry Contest.
These contests are open through Sept. 30. Winners will be announced at an award ceremony at the Town 'N Country Regional Library on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 2 p.m.

For contest rules and entry forms, visit Entries must be turned in no later than Sept. 30.

La Ley 760AM Live Remote at Marion Transit Center - Sept. 30, 5 p.m.

Join HART and La Ley 760AM at Marion Transit Center (MTC), this Friday, Sept. 30 from 5-6 p.m.  La Ley will host another live radio remote from MTC, and once again they are bringing great food and music! Thanks to everyone who participated in the previous remote to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month on September 16.

Experience the Flavor of Ybor!

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with a historic tour through Ybor City with the TECO Line Streetcar! Visit the Ybor City Museum State Park at the Centennial Station, show your Streetcar Savings Pass (your TECO Line Streetcar fare card) and receive 50% off admission and 10% off in the gift shop. The museum features the history of Ybor City, including: the cigar industry, social clubs and the Spanish immigration experience. The park also features a Mediterranean-style garden and a re-creation of a Ybor City cigar worker's house. Ybor City walking tours are also provided from the museum. Explore the flavor of Ybor City's past!

When you've worked up a hunger from all that walking, take the TECO Line Streetcar over to Channelside and enjoy traditional Spanish tapas from Tinatapa's. Just like before, enjoy a discount with your TECO Line Streetcar farecard - 20% off your bill!
Plan on attending any of the above events?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

HART Board approves 2012-2013 budget

The HART Board unanimously voted to adopt the fiscal year 2012 budget and a millage rate of .5000. This vote took place after Monday's final budget public hearing, held at the HART Administrative Office in Ybor City.

The total fiscal year 2012 HART budget includes a capital budget of $40.1 million, and an operating budget of $60.7, which is less than the originally proposed budget of $65.7 million and less than last year's budget of $62.7. The operating budget supports:
  • 44 Regular, Express, and HARTFlex Routes
  • Service until midnight on eight routes, which operate as early as 4:30 a.m.
  • In-Town Trolley during rush time weekday mornings and late afternoons
  • Paratransit operations, or transportation for persons with disabilities
  • Streetcar operations
  • More than 200 buses and vans
  • 3,700 bus stops and shelters throughout Hillsborough County
  • Customer Service, seven days a week
  • More than 1 million trips each month!
Budget documents are available at , then click on "Public Meetings."

Each year during the budget development process, two budget hearings are held in September. This year, budget hearings were held Sept. 12 and Sept. 26.

In other matters, during its regular meeting, which took place after the budget hearing, the HART Board voted to authorize a contract for a Project Development & Environment Study and Option for 30 Percent Design Services for the MetroRapid East-West Project to HDR Engineering, Inc., in the amount of $1.9 million, paid for by Hillsborough County Community Investment Tax funds. The term of the contract is 16 months.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Public hearing on proposed FY 2012-2013 budget is today

The final public hearing for the proposed HART FY 2012-2013 budget is today at the HART Administrative Office, 1201 E. 7th Ave in Ybor. As a part of the FY 2012-2013 budget, the HART Board is considering a restoration of the historic millage rate to .500, in order to maintain existing levels of transit service. The public hearing begins at 5:30 p.m.

Public comment is welcome at the meeting. See below for video from the first public hearing.

A regular HART Board meeting will immediately follow the public hearing.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bulls, Bucs and Bellamy: Things to Do in Tampa this Weekend!

Whether you want brutes or bubbly, gut-busting laughter or great American History, there are a lot of deals to be had this weekend at Tampa attractions!

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. the Florida Panthers - Friday at 7:30 p.m.

The Bolts are back! It may be preseason, but don't tell the Bolts, as they look to get their first "W" of the young season. The game tonight doesn't just provide you with an opportunity to check out the new Bolts, but also their fresh new digs and home. Forty-million dollars of renovations went into the St. Pete Times Forum this offseason.

The TECO Line Streetcar drops off in back of the St. Pete Times Forum at the HSBC Station. Lightning fans, have no fear this season, the TECO Line Streetcar runs until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and will serve the end of Lightning games during the week.

More of a pigskin fan? The Bucs and Bulls are both at home this weekend, looking for your support. Reminder: West Tampa Transfer Center, located near Ray Jay is CLOSED during Bulls' and Bucs' games.

University of South Florida Bulls vs. UTEP

The Miners come to Tampa to take on the #18 ranked Bulls for the first time ever at Raymond James. The Bulls look to go 4-0 heading into Big East conference play against Pittsburgh next week. Kickoff for the game is Saturday at 7 p.m.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons

The Bucs hope to end their losing streak to the Falcons, when they face off at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. Kickoff for the game is at 4 p.m.

Bill Bellamy at the Tampa Improv

Looking for some laughs this weekend? Bill Bellamy is blowing it up this Friday and Saturday at the Tampa Improv in Centro Ybor. The TECO Line Streetcar serves the Improv via Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union station near Centro Ybor.

$5 Day at MOSI!

In celebration of National Museum Day, MOSI is offering admission to their exhibits (including their new Target America: Opening Eyes to the Damage Drugs Cause) and an IMAX movie for just $5!

Looking for something... errumm cheaper, than have no fear!

Free Museum Day in Tampa

A number of local museums are FREE on Saturday. The list includes:
To get free access to these museums you must visit and print off your free ticket. See website for details.

The 10th Annual Tampa Theatre Winefest

A weekend of wine sampling and it's all for a good cause! The Tampa Theatre is hosting its 10th Annual Tampa Theatre Winefest benefiting the Theatre's "artistic endeavors, educational programs and ongoing restoration". The Winefest begins tonight with a "Wine Pairing" event, pairing premium wines with dinner selections.

Check out the Tampa Theatre Winefest website for more details.

FREE Streetcar Ride with Muvico Centro Ybor 20 Ticket Stub

Interested in seeing Dolphin Tale, the true story of local (for now) animal celebrity, Winter the Dolphin? The TECO Line Streetcar has partnered up with Muvico Centro Ybor 20 on a ride free promotion. Give your ticket stub to the Streetcar Motormen and receive a free ride on the TECO Line Streetcar! It's a perfect excuse to go for follow your movie with a double feature of dessert and drinks in Channelside or Downtown.

Details for the Muvico promotion can be found on

Friday, September 16, 2011

Things to do in Tampa this weekend: 9/16 - 9/18

$5 Admission to the Glazer Children’s Museum

If you haven’t taken your kids to the Glazer Children’s Museum yet, NOW is the time to go. In recognition of the Museum’s first birthday, the Museum’s admission price has been lowered to just $5 through September 30. Your kids will love all the hand's on exhibits. Play stations allow the kids to take on the roll of a tug boat captain or the job of an engineer. Kids become the stars of their own adventures! The Glazer Children's Museum is located at 110 W Gasparilla Plaza in downtown Tampa. Both In-Town Trolley lines serve the museum and cost only 25¢! The Purple line runs Monday-Friday until 6 p.m. and the Green line runs Friday-Saturday from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m.

2011 Tampa Carribbean Festival

Tampa's Carribbean beat comes alive with this Carribbean themed event. Follow the beat with live Calypso, Soca, Reggae, along with African and Tassa drumming, steel band, Latin music and more! Reward yourself for working up a sweat from all that dancing with ethnic dishes from Jerk Hut Jamaican Grille and Rhum Bar. The event costs $15 for adults, 10 and under are free; $10 for military/students. The event is being held at the Florida State Fair. For more information, visit

1905 Day at Columbia Restaurants

Dine in Florida’s oldest restaurant, with prices to go with it. This Sunday, Tampa Bay area restaurants (minus the Columbia CafĂ© at the Tampa Riverwalk) will roll back prices to 1905, the year the original Columbia Restaurant opened. The menu will be limited for the event, but includes chicken and yellow rice or boliche for $2.95, the famous “1905 Salad” for $1.95, Sangria for 95¢ and flan for just 50¢. No reservations will be taken for the event and expect a long wait.

Your best bet (especially if you’re going to the original in Ybor) is to wait in line, grab a ticket and come back in a few hours. Enjoy all that Ybor has to offer: people watching at Tampa Bay Brewing Company, gaming out at Gametime or enjoying the Ybor Saturday Market.

Channelside is also a good bet to fill your few hours wait.

Board the TECO Line Streetcar and enjoy shopping at Channelside, bowling at Splitsville or watching an IMAX film at Channelside Cinemas. When you’re ready, simply get back on the streetcar in time for your VERY cheap feast. Enjoy!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Things to do in Tampa this weekend: 9/9 - 9/11

Looking for things to do this weekend? You're in the right place. Disney, Boats and Arroz con Pollo are all in play this weekend in Tampa. Here are some great events to take advantage of the TECO Line Streetcar:

The 6th annual Festival del SABOR

Whether you're looking to celebrate your Hispanic Heritage, or just get down on some great food, the Festival del SABOR is a great family-friendly option. The festival kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins September 15. Love to cook? Love to eat? There will also be an amateur recipe and cookout to find Tampa Bay's best "Arroz con Pollo". Participants have the chance to win $700 in prizes. The adults won't be the only ones having fun as there will be a children's play area, and a stage featuring local musicians. The event runs from noon - 5 p.m. at Centennial Park, which happens to be the beginning of the streetcar line in Ybor City.

Tampa Boat Show

Tampa's largest and longest boat show is back! The Tampa Boat Show showcases the latest in boating technology with vendors from all over the U.S. here to match you up with boats and accessories. This event might need a little more convincing the whole family. No problem, just let them know that powerboat rides will be given free, while at the event. The Tampa Boat Show runs from Friday - Sunday and is located at the Tampa Bay Convention Center, 333 S. Franklin St. in Tampa. If taking the streetcar, get off at Dick Greco Plaza, the Convention Center is right across the street. Click here for more information on the event.

Disney on Ice

No need to convince the little ones about this event. Disney on Ice Presents 100 Years of Magic is coming through the St. Pete Times Forum, this Friday through Sunday. Get a taste of Disney without the trip to Orlando, or the theme park prices. Disney on Ice Presents 100 Years of Magic features 65 of Disney's most unforgettable characters from 18 beloved Disney classics. Watch the books and movies come to life as Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald Duck and more dance around in a ice skating spectacular. Tickets start at just $15! The TECO Line Streetcar offers a special "Family Pass," which allows up to 2 adults and 3 children (or 1 adult and 4 children) to ride all day for only $12.50! The TECO Line Streetcar drops off right at the St. Pete Times Forum. Click here for more information on the show.

Sunday is the 10th anniversary of 9/11. There are a number of remembrance events going on around the Tampa Bay Area. HART is proud to provide fleet support for a 9/11, 10-year Anniversary Observance Ceremony beginning at the American Victory Ship Mariners Museum, 401 Channelside Drive in downtown Tampa. This observance will be followed by a procession to the Tampa Firefighters Museum, 720 Zack St. in downtown Tampa, featuring a memorial dedication led by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. This event is free, open to the public and begins at 8 a.m. For more information, visit or

In addition to the event, TECO Line Streetcars will ring their bells to mark a moment of remembrance Sunday, Sept. 11 at 1 p.m.

West Tampa Transfer Center closed during Ray Jay events!

The Bulls and Bucs are both in town this weekend, so it's a great time to remind everyone that the West Tampa Transfer Center (WTTC) is closed during ANY major event at Ray Jay. WTTC becomes inaccessible during events due to traffic limitations and road closures (Tampa Police Department's call).

All routes serving the West Tampa Transfer Center will be re-routed to St. Isabel Street and MacDill Avenue. The following routes are included in this detour.

Route 7 – West Tampa/Citrus Park
Route 32 – MLK Boulevard
Route 36 – Dale Mabry/Himes Ave.
Route 41 - Sligh Ave.
Route 45 – UATC/Rome/Westshore Plaza

A list of 2011-2012 scheduled Raymond James events can be found here.

Keep in mind that event information is subject to change.

Need to get around during the detour? Just call the HARTinfo Line at (813) 254-4278, and we'll help you find alternatives during this detour.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Save money with the Streetcar Savings Passport!

We're testing a pilot program that could save you a lot of moolah, just for riding the TECO Line Streetcar.

Throughout the month of September, streetcar patrons can show their farecard to participating businesses along the line and receive special discounts. Whether you're hungry for tapas, history or a little bit of both, the Streetcar Savings Passport has you covered.

Present your TECO Line Streetcar farecard to your server at Tinatapa's in Channelside and receive 20% off your total bill. The Ybor City Museum is offering 50% off admission for TECO Line Streetcar farecard holders, along with 10% off in the Ybor City Museum store.

Tinatapa's is located at 615 Channelside Drive and is served by the TECO Line Streetcar via The Tampa Tribune Station (stop #8). The Ybor City Museum is located at 1818/1820 East 9th Avenue at the beginning of the streetcar line - Centennial Park Station (stop #1).

Offers are valid from Sept. 1 - Sept. 30 and you must present your TECO Line Streetcar farecard in order to receive the deals.

We hope to expand the Streetcar Savings Passport program in the future.

Visit for more information.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Rapid Staffing Selected as the HART Outstanding Minority Business!

HART would like to extend a big congratulations to Rapid Staffing, Inc. for being selected as an outstanding minority business! As part of the designation, Rapid Staffing is receiving four weeks of bus advertising with HART and two weeks of television advertising on WTVT FOX 13. Rapid Staffing is also being featured on and a business spotlight is currently running on City of Tampa Television (CTTV).

Rapid Staffing is a Hillsborough County based staffing company, putting people back to work for companies in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Polk counties. Rapid Staffing is a certified Minority Business Enterprise by the state of Florida.

Look for our commercial showcasing Rapid Staffing, on FOX 13

The company was selected because of its ability to survive the current economic climate, while giving back to the community. Their nomination also best showed how HART not only positively impacts the business, but also their family. Lani Harless, Owner of Rapid Staffing, regularly recommends HART to potential employees.

"We like to offer and recommend the bus system with HART," Harless said. "If they take HART and they go to work, they can get home from work [because] HART runs a lot of different routes (and) a lot of different hours -- early mornings and they go all the way up until some of the late hours of the evening."

Mrs. Harless's employees aren't the only ones using the service.

"My brother does use HART quite a bit," she said. "He uses it on a daily basis, Monday through Friday and he goes to and from work on a daily basis from Seffner to MacDill. That’s a long way and it would be hard to rely on friends and family for that commute."

Her brother, Steve Nunez, qualified for special transportation to work, but he said his service was cut because of state and local budget cuts. HART has and will continue to serve as reliable transportation for Steve, getting him to work so he can continue leading an independent and productive life.

Watch the four minute clip below for a greater look at Rapid Staffing. You can also catch it on CTTV's "Spotlight on Tampa," which runs throughout the month on Channel 15 for Verizon FiOS or 615 for Bright House customers.

Interested in Rapid Staffing? Visit for more information.