Friday, December 30, 2011

Top Wishes for 2012: A Fun Look Ahead

With the New Year approaching, you're probably being bombarded with lists and resolutions and well this is no different.  We lack a crystal ball, but with a notepad and casual conversation, we've come up with our Top 12 Wishes of 2012.

Top story doesn't involve Gov. Scott
Our list begins (in no particular order) with arguably the top local transit story of 2011 and here is a hint, it doesn't involve Governor Rick Scott.

1.  No more Robin Hoods

Quick summary: Back in April, a local man allegedly robs a Wachovia bank and uses a HART bus as his getaway vehicle.  The story gets more interesting, when the man begins handing out the stolen cash (Robin Hood-style) to patrons on the bus. A HART supervisor calls the operator to report the criminal on the bus. The operator announces a "mechanical failure" on the bus and pulls over, where deputies are waiting for the robber.

Moral of the story? Next time pay off the driver. We kid, we kid.

In case you're interested in the full story.

Let's leave the crazy with Cee-Lo in 2012.

2.  No more Platt St. Bridge closure

Who knew we'd miss the bridge so much - we get dirty looks on Kennedy.  January can't come soon enough!

Photo credit: Michael Esser, Boss Magazine
3.  Va-va Voom! More photo shoots like this one...

Boss Magazine recently held a photo shoot with a pair of lovely ladies on the ol' Birney streetcar and he can't stop talking about them. Fulfill his wish - more (camera) action.

4.  Economy turns around

Who doesn't want this one? We need money! When home values drop, our funding goes down... big time.

And on that note...

5.  Win the lottery

Goes hand-in-hand with #4. Service enhancements cost money, which we're currently lacking. In the past, we've mentioned researching possible alternative funding sources. Want to know what we've come up with? Powerball! Have you seen those payouts? That's demonstration line money.

Don't worry though, even if we don't hit the lotto, we're still here to serve you!

6.  HARTline finally dies

R.I.P. HARTline and "motion sickness" color scheme
We started phasing out the HARTline name in 2005, and re branded to HART to reflect our multi-modal system.  We embrace our past but the purple, red, and green is gone. Those days are over... We hope 2012 is the year we finally become just HART.

Sidenote: You can't do much with that color combination. We believe the combo was called "motion sickness".

7.  Drivers yielding to buses

Remember to yield to buses, it's the LAW - as in a fine and possible jail time. If a bus is attempting to pull out of a bus bay, you MUST allow them back into traffic. Either that, or you're probably rear-ending the bus.  We've seen it happen - not pretty.

8.  Stay off the tracks!

Driver of car didn't see stop sign.  Photo credit: Don Lamison
We're not sure how some individuals can maneuver their vehicles onto parts of the TECO Line Streetcar tracks, and into the way of the streetcar, but they do.  We know some people aren't use to the yielding to trains or train tracks (it is Florida, after all). However, after almost 10 years of service and signs at all crossings, it's kind of hard to excuse.

The only driver on the tracks should be the motorman. Give up the keys and take a seat, we can always use the entertainment. 

9.  Entering and exiting

We hope more people enter the front and exit the rear... on the bus we mean. You know, the rear - on the bus - blocks the doorways when riders are headed in both directions.

10.  FTA Weight Regulations

We hope the FTA doesn't have to raise the assumed passenger weight for passenger capacity regulations again. It means less passengers allowed on the bus at one time.

Not sure what they're looking at though, considering studies have shown that transit riders are 3 times more likely to get the recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity.

 11.  More people "occupying" the Streetcar

If you want to occupy something, occupy the streetcar. We could always use more ridership.

And finally...

12.  More eyes reading this blog

For those that read the blog regularly, we thank you! If you like the content, please don't hesitate to share it with your friends, families, co-workers, pets, etc. Sometimes it feels like we're a comedian playing a Bar Mitzvah. Is this thing on? 

Have a happy and safe New Year from all of us at HART!

Giving Thanks this Holiday Season...

The Holiday Season is the time of year for reflection of the past year(s). A time to reflect on what we have, not what we lost. There are plenty of reasons (in no particular order) to have a HART-Felt Holiday Season!
Best Ridership in HART History

We saw record ridership this year with13.7 million passenger trips (1.4 million more than FY 2010), while PSTA also saw a record number of riders with 13.1 million passenger trips.

With the exception of a just a couple of months in FY 2011 (my statistics teacher would say those are considered “outliers” anyway!), HART saw double-digit ridership increases month after month despite flattening gas prices. In fact, we've seen growth in ridership dating back to February of 2010, and we hope seasoned and new riders alike are taking note of the investments HART has made to boost accessibility and service, including more shelters and a big boost in late-night and weekend service.

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)

If you're a regular reader of the blog, then you probably have seen us mention CNG in the past couple of days. We received an early gift, when we learned last week that HART is one of 46 recipients to receive funding from the Federal Transit Administration for a clean-fuel transit project. The $2.3 million grant will go towards a CNG fueling station and "CNG fitting" our 21st Avenue Maintenance Facility.  This will allow us to begin converting our fleet to CNG as dictated by the fleet replacement schedule.

CNG is more environmentally-friendly and currently costs 20-25% less than diesel.

Our Troops

We are thankful for those here and abroad who give (and have given) such a tremendous sacrifice to protect our rights and freedoms around the world. We would like to specifically mention our riders on the 24X and 25LX, which are two of the busiest Express routes in the HART system. HART is honored to serve those who serve and thanks to MacDill AFB for valuing public transportation by offering free passes to military personnel!

Award Wins

We have been very fortunate to earn a number of awards over the past few years.  Last year, HART received the American Public Transportation Association's (APTA) "2010 Most Outstanding Public Transit System of the Year" among all transit agencies carrying between 4-20 million passenger trips annually. The award is quite the honor in the transit industry, as it is comparable to an Oscar in film. One agency in North America is recognized in three size classes for demonstrating outstanding achievement in efficiency and effectiveness over a 3-year period. We're thankful for all of the HART family for their hard work in receiving this award.

We recently passed the baton off to Sun Metro in El Paso, Texas. Congratulations Sun Metro!

Increased Funding for Public Transportation

Recently, $10.6 billion in funding for public transportation was approved, which is a 3 percent increase in funding over FY 2011! While it doesn't guarantee more will trickle down to HART, it does provide more opportunities for HART to compete for grant funding. Projects such as the CNG fueling station and the TECO Line Streetcar Extension, both received funding from the Transit Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) grant program. We are always thankful for investments in transit and infrastructure!

Rosa Parks

Rosa Park's refusal to give up her seat changed the course of history. It all started on a bus... and we are forever thankful to Ms. Parks for her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.
Red Bull Flugtag Tampa Bay 2011

Special Events

Tampa played host to a number of special events this year, in addition to the annual group of festivities held in Tampa - Gasparilla, Guavaween, etc. Tampa welcomed the "Elite Eight" group of the NCAA Men's College Basketball Tournament, Red Bull Flugtag, the CuervoGames and the World Dragon Boat Racing Championships, which is like the World Cup of Dragon Boat Racing.  These events not only offered free entertainment, but also gave us the ability to showcase our service and grow ridership. These events are in addition to all the concerts, festivals and sporting events held around the county.

Metro 510

Metro 510, a mixed-use, workforce housing complex sits adjacent to our main transit hub, Marion Transit Center.  Metro 510 markets itself to service workers and entry-level employees who would normally not be able to afford a luxurious apartment downtown.  Metro 510 leases apartments from $588 for a one-bedroom to $808 for a three-bedroom.  The complex provides renters with easy connectivity to the HART system and downtown, granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances and effective use of natural lighting.

Welcome to the neighborhood, Metro 510! We're thankful that you're here.

The Community

Obviously, HART would not exist without the support of Hillsborough County residents, employees and visitors.  Last year, HART saw a record number of trips taken throughout Hillsborough County, and from the bottom of our HART (pun, maybe a little cheese... intended), we really do appreciate your ridership and continued support!

Here is to a great 2012!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Light Up Tampa Bay with the TECO Line Streetcar this New Year's Eve!

Fireworks over the Channel District
The Tampa skyline will light up this weekend in celebration of the New Year with thousands watching from Channelside and the Riverwalk.

The fireworks can be seen from a number of locations along the river, but the party will be at Channelside. "Light Up Tampa Bay" begins at 1 p.m. with 12 hours of live music and a ball drop. If you're keen on viewing the fireworks from the wharf area, it will be limited to 3,000 people with wristbands. Wristbands will be given out starting at 8:30 p.m.
Click for map of Downtown service

The TECO Line Streetcar is your best bet to avoid the expected traffic and parking nightmare. Park in Ybor and take the streetcar to Channelside (Hop off at the Tampa Tribune Station) or the Riverwalk (HSBC Station or Dick Greco Plaza). A map of the Downtown network of services can be found to the right.

Should you plan on driving to the festivities...

American Automobile Association (AAA) offers a complimentary "Tipsy Tow" service for those that might have had too much holiday "cheer" this year. The service is available to everyone, meaning you don't have to be a AAA member. Call 1-800-AAA-HELP (you might want to save this number in your phone now) and a tow truck will come out and tow you and your car home safely - for FREE.  AAA received 2,400 "Tipsy Tow" service calls in 2010.

Whether you're enjoying your New Year's Eve with us or not, please be SAFE! 

 New Year's Eve Service:

HART is operating on a normal Saturday schedule for New Year's Eve. HART Customer Service Centers at University Area Transit Center and Marion Transit Center will be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. All other HART offices will be closed.

HART Customer Service will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached at (813) 254-4278.

New Year's Day Service:

HART is operating on a normal Sunday schedule for New Year's Day. HART Customer Service Centers at University Area Transit Center, HART on Franklin and Marion Transit Center will be closed. All other HART offices will be closed.

HART Customer Service will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached at (813) 254-4278.

Click here for a rundown on what services will be in operation. 

The HART Administrative Office in Ybor will also be closed on Monday in observance of the New Year.

Safe travels in 2012!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Welcome to Tampa for 2012 Outback Bowl!

Decorations are starting to get taken down and holiday broadcasts are now returning to regularly scheduled programming. The holiday season is almost over. Keyword being, almost, because we're not done yet!

New Year's Eve is coming up and we've got a big time college football bonanza to bring in the New Year!

Plenty to see and do in Tampa!
HART and the TECO Line Streetcar would like to welcome all the Michigan State and Georgia coaches, players and fans to Tampa for the 2012 Outback Bowl!

We understand the difficulties in attempting to navigate the local public transportation scene without an idea on what to see and do and how to get there. So, we created this guide that breaks down some of Tampa's best attractions and how to get there with HART and the TECO Line Streetcar!

Use HART to get to the following Tampa attractions and avoid the parking hassles:
  • Busch Gardens - Routes 5, 18, 39
  • Lowry Park Zoo - Routes 41, 45
  • Florida Aquarium - Route 8, the TECO Line Streetcar
  • Channelside Bay Plaza (Dining, retail, Splitsville and Channelside Cinemas) - Route 8, the TECO Line Streetcar
  • Ybor City Historic District (Centro Ybor) - Routes 8, 12, the TECO Line Streetcar
  • International Plaza (Shopping) - 15, 30, 59LX
  • Lowry Park Zoo - Routes 41, 45
  • Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) - Route 6
  • St. Pete Times Forum - Route 8, In-Town Trolley, TECO Line Streetcar
  • David A. Straz Jr. Center - In-Town Trolley, TECO Line Streetcar
  • Tampa Convention Center - Route 4, In-Town Trolley, TECO Line Streetcar
  • Tampa Museum of Art - Routes 7, 10, In-Town Trolly
  • Tampa Theatre - In-Town Trolley
  • Glazer's Children Museum - Routes 7, 10, In-Town Trolley
  • University of South Florida - Routes 5, 6, 18, 57
  • Westshore Plaza (Shopping) - Routes 5, 30, 45, 89
  • Raymond James Stadium (Home of the Outback Bowl) - Routes 7, 32, 36, 45

Only $1.75 for a one-way ride!
Flying out? Route 30 runs between downtown and Tampa International Airport every 30 minutes on weekdays and weekends. Service begins at 4:40 a.m. through midnight during the week and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the weekends.

A 3-day Visitor Unlimited HARTride card is your best bet at only $11.00 and valid on all HART local buses, In-Town Trolley and the TECO Line Streetcar System.

Things to know about the In-Town Trolley and TECO Line Streetcar System:
  • In-Town Trolley: The In-Town Trolley is a rubber-wheeled vehicle, that makes stops at popular locations in downtown Tampa weekdays, 6 - 9 a.m. and 3 - 6 p.m.  The line operate on a 15-minute frequency and costs only 25¢!
  • TECO Line Streetcar Line: The streetcar line runs on rails that connects Ybor City, Channelside and Downtown Tampa. It operates 12 p.m. - 10 p.m. on Thursday, and 11 a.m. - 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Streetcar Operators do not provide change.
It's easy to plan your own trip! Visit to use the Google Trip Planner feature or call 813-254-HART (4278).

Click here for a map of downtown Tampa's network of public transportation service, including streetcar stops, In-Town Trolley service and HART bus routes.

Have a great time watching the Michigan State Spartans take on the Georgia Bulldogs in the New Year's Day showdown and enjoy all that Tampa has to offer!

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

HART-Felt Holiday Notes

The holiday season is upon us. The eight days of Hanukkah have begun and Christmas and Kwanzaa are right around the corner. Many families around the world will get together over feasts and chatter, celebrating various beliefs and participating in different traditions. However, some of our family and friends will not have the same opportunity to break bread with their families this holiday season.

Over 1.4 million troops serving our country are stationed in over 150 different countries around the world. Even troops stationed in the United States sometimes find themselves as much as 3,000 miles away from their loved ones.

As we've touched on in past posts, active and retired members of the Armed Forces make up a strong contingent of the HART family. As such, we wanted to do something special for troops around the world and locally at MacDill AFB. Holiday greetings featuring HART employees/retired military members and also active military to their families have been airing on WTSP (local CBS affiliate) since the beginning of December. Check out the video spots below.


The holiday season equals holiday service levels. Below is our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day schedule.

HART Holiday Service

Christmas Eve

HART and the TECO Line Streetcar will operate on a normal Saturday schedule. The following services will not operate:
  • Express/Limited Express service
  • HART Flex (South Tampa. South County, Town 'N Country)
  • In-Town Trolley (Route 96)
HART Customer Service will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached by calling (813) 254-4278. Customer Service centers at University Area Transfer Center and Marion Transit Center will be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. All other HART offices will be closed.

Christmas Day:

HART will operate on a Sunday schedule. The following services will not operate:
  • Express/Limited Express service
  • HART Flex service
  • In-Town Trolley (Route 96)
The TECO Line Streetcar will not operate in observance of Christmas Day.

HART Customer Service will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached by calling (813) 254-4278. All other HART offices will be closed. 

HART Holiday Luncheon

Food was the main attraction...
We recently held our employee holiday luncheon, which is a great way to get the HART family together for the holidays. Food and refreshments were served along with a "year-in-review" slideshow.

'Tis the season for giving and our team is in full bloom! More than 400 pounds of food were donated by employees from all of our different facilities as part of the Boxes of Hope food drive, benefiting Metropolitan Ministries. Way to go everyone!

The giving doesn't have to stop there or with us. You can visit the Metropolitan Ministries website for food drop off locations. There is still time left to donate!

The holiday season comes and goes quickly, so enjoy it and happy holidays from our family to yours!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Here's a TIP - MacDill's Transportation Incentive Program (TIP)

More than 3,000 Hillsborough County residents are employed by MacDill Air Force Base (AFB), home of U.S. Central Command or Centcom.

With such a concentration of employment in the Tampa area, there's a good chance that you are associated with MacDill, whether it be by direct employment, contract work or family and friends. Did you know that MacDill AFB offers its personnel FREE transportation to the base?

Believe it.

If you live in Brandon, Valrico, Riverview, and the Fishhawk areas east of Tampa, MacDill, through their Transportation Incentive Program (TIP), provides FREE monthly HART Commuter Express passes, a $90 value.

If you have not signed up for MacDill's TIP, you are missing out on a benefit that could save you hundreds of dollars a month in gas and tolls. More than 1,450 personnel take advantage of a daily, hassle-free express bus ride or van pool, which is 100 percent paid for by Uncle Sam.

According to MacDill, the TIP has its origins from Executive Order 13150, which "seeks to reduce traffic congestion, fuel consumption and emissions by military members and federal employees by mandating a public transportation program that offers assistance with commuting costs".

Don't live in the above areas? TIP also includes TBARTA Commuter Services, a van pool program. The van pool program provides commuters, in groups of five or more, funding to secure a passenger van for their daily commute. For information on the van pool program visit

As with any program, there are a few stipulations to the TIP program. You obviously can't intend to profit off the sale or trade of bus passes and van pool vouchers. And TIP applications shall be based solely on costs associated with the use of a qualified mode of transportation to and from MacDill in conjunction with employment by the Department of Defense (DoD).

Are you eligible for the TIP Benefit?

1) DoD active duty military members
2) DoD Reserve Military members (including both Reservists and National Guard Members) on active duty status
3) DoD Federal civilian employees
4) DoD NAF personnel

Per MacDill: The TIP program is managed by the 6th Comptroller Squadron, Financial Services Office in bldg. 149 on Hillsborough Loop. After identifying the service or bus route that will best serve you, please e-mail to get a copy of the application. Applications must be returned in person so eligibility requirements can be verified using the members DoD issued ID card. Applications can be dropped off any duty day and are processed at the end of each month. Riders typically are able to pick up their bus pass/van pool vouchers by the third week of the month after they apply.

Save a lot of money and the environment, help keep Tampa's congestion down and learn to relax on board one of our buses straight from a park-n-ride to the base.  Sounds like a no-risk, big reward plan!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Streetcar Holiday Connections: Dec. 10, 25¢ Rides from 9 am - 5 pm!

Santa Claus is coming to town!
Mark Santa's arrival with 25¢ one-way rides on the TECO Line Streetcar this Saturday from 9 am - 5 pm, courtesy of Centro Ybor!

Santa will be making appearances in the morning at Centro Ybor and Centennial Park. In addition to the jolly man's arrival in Ybor City, several activities are also planned along the streetcar line. There will be an entertainment stage at Centro Ybor, Art in the Park and entertainment at Centennial Park; Ybor Art Association's Deck the Walls (art exhibits at multiple locations along the streetcar line); and behind-the-scenes tours at Stageworks Theatre.

Multiple businesses will also have special deals in the Streetcar Holiday Connections Brochure: $5 off at the Florida Aquarium, free child's admission with the purchase of an adult admission at the Glazer Children's Museum and $2 off admission at the Tampa Bay History Center, to name a few.

Looking to fill up your tummy like ol' Saint Nick? There are a variety of food and drinks specials at restaurants along the streetcar line. A quick peak shows: 20% off your entire bill at Pizza Fusion in Downtown Tampa, 15% off your food bill (with brochure) from Blue Dog Bistro in Centro Ybor and 10% off your order (with brochure) at Cold Stone Creamery in Channelside!

You can also receive a FREE kid's meal from Gametime in Ybor just by visiting the streetcar information tent located at Centro Ybor - while supplies last.

A few things to consider:
  • The TECO Line Streetcar serves Ybor City, the Channel District and Downtown Tampa, for maps and schedules visit
  • Bust open that piggy bank. It's 25¢ fares, so you're going to need those quarters, our streetcar motormen don't provide change.
  • The special 25¢ one-way fare is valid from 9 am - 5 pm.
  • The TECO Line Streetcar System is not responsible for changes to any special offers listed in the Streetcar Holiday Connections brochure. Special offers are valid on Saturday, Dec. 10 only.
  Is there a better way to spend the day than 25¢ rides with Santa on his (yellow) sleigh?

Streetcar Holiday Connections - Dec. 10, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.