Friday, January 20, 2012

Arrgh Mateys! Set sail for Gasparilla with HART and the TECO Line Streetcar!

Arrgh you ready?! Have your sights set on Gasparilla? Well, set sail with HART and the TECO Line Streetcar. We're rolling out extra streetcar, bus and trolley service to ensure a safe and easy way to get around during Gasparilla on Saturday, Jan. 28. Service includes:

TECO Line Streetcar
•    For those parking in Ybor City, take the streetcar from Ybor City (Centennial Park Station) to Downtown Tampa (Dick Greco Plaza) View Map for Gasparilla 2012 -- Streetcar and Bus service 
•    Continuous service 9 a.m. - 1:30 a.m.
•    $5 for an all-day pass, which may be purchased with cash at ticket vending machines (change provided) located at each streetcar station. This fare does not cover the City of Tampa parking fees.

For more information on the TECO Line Streetcar, visit

HART Bus Service
•    For those parking in Ybor City, take HART Bus Route 8, which will operate continuous service during peak times in the morning and afternoon from Ybor City (Streetcar Society Station) to Downtown Tampa (Dick Greco Plaza) View Map for Gasparilla 2012 -- Streetcar and Bus Service 
•    Buses will run from Port Authority and Cumberland Streetcar Stations to Dick Greco Plaza when streetcars are operating at capacity.
•    $3.75 for an all-day pass, which may be purchased in advance at HART retail outlets or on board buses on Gasparilla Day with cash only (no change provided). Monthly bus passes may also be used. This fare does not cover City of Tampa parking fees.

In-Town Trolley

•    Provides a connection from the north end of Downtown Tampa (Marion Transit Center) to the south end of Downtown Tampa (Dick Greco Plaza).  View Map for Gasparilla 2012 -- Streetcar and Bus Service 
•    Continuous service 9 a.m. -  6 p.m.
•    25¢ or streetcar/bus all-day passes accepted.

Getting to Downtown Tampa on HART

HART will operate on a normal Saturday schedule.

•    From North Tampa:  Routes 1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 12, 18
•    From Temple Terrace:  Route 6
•    From Brandon:  Route 8
•    From West Tampa:  Route 7
•    From South Tampa:  Route 19
•    From Citrus Park:  Route 7
•    From Town 'N Country/Westchase: Route 30

Click here to view the HART system map. Have specific questions about HART service during this special event, call 813-254-4278 or visit  Never attended Gasparilla before? Learn how to party like a (responsible) pirate!

Leave the gray hairs to Jack Sparrow
Just remember, gray hairs may give Captain Jack Sparrow a "distinguished look." However, with over 500,000 swashbucklers expected to attend Gasparilla, don't test your luck - save yourself some gray hairs - and ride with us.

Party Like a (Responsible) Pirate

Hop aboard with your crew and
let the streetcar steer you to all the Gasparilla fun.
The pirate lads and lasses are donning their gear, and the scene is set for the annual Gasparilla Pirate Invasion and Parade to take place this Saturday, January 28th.

If you plan on joining the half-million or so other revelers in downtown Tampa or along Bayshore Boulevard, here are some tips to help make getting there a little easier.

Start with the Streetcar
Let's get this out of the way right off the bat: unless your great-aunt Mildred has a house off Bayshore and will graciously let you stash your car in her driveway, parking in the neighborhoods near the parade route is an absolute no-no. As in, they'll tow your car away - no really, they will.

So if great-aunt Mildred isn't an option, your next-best bet is to make riding the TECO Line Streetcar System part of your day of fun!

Here's your first tip: downtown lots and garages will fill up fast, so try parking in Ybor City and hop aboard the streetcar. There are a number of stations that serve the streetcar system along 8th Avenue, and all of them are an easy walk from the Ybor City parking facilities. From there, we'll drop you off at Greco Plaza, next to the Tampa Convention Center and right in the middle of the Gasparilla activities.

All aboard! Next stop Gasparilla!
Another important tip to remember if the streetcar is part of your plans - you'll need to pick up a farecard at one of the Ticket Vending Machines along the route before you board. You can pay by cash or credit card at the machines. If you have questions, HART team members will be out in force to help you navigate the Gasparilla transportation scene.

For the whole scoop on parking locations, rates and other info, check out the parking page on the City of Tampa's website here.

Rubber-wheel it!
Here's another tip to enjoy the Gasparilla festivities: Rubber-wheel it on the HART In-Town Trolley to access even more fun going on throughout downtown Tampa.

The rubber-wheeled In-Town Trolley will be on detour Saturday from 9 a.m. until 2 a.m. on Saturday, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the parade and Pirate Fest, and to try some of the wonderful new bars and restaurants (ahem, Taco Bus) that have been popping up downtown. You can also use the Green Line to connect to the TECO Line Streetcar System at Dick Greco Plaza near the Tampa Convention Center and take your pirate crew to Channelside and Ybor. It's as if the whole city is at your beck and call (and why not, you are a pirate, aren't you?).

Hop on the Bus, Gus
If you'd prefer to skip the driving altogether, we have a tip for you, too: HART will be running regular bus service on several routes that serve downtown, including Route 7, Route 19 and Route 30, so you can get to the party without any parking hassle at all. Just be sure to note that these routes end service mid-evening, so you'll want to plan your return trip accordingly.

By the way, for you northwest Tampa/Town 'n' Country folks, as well as our pirate-loving friends in Pinellas County, here's a really great tip - park for FREE at the HART Northwest Transfer Center (map here) and ride Route 30 all the way into downtown. How pirate-licious is that? (Route 30's last trip back to the Northwest Transfer Center is at 9:30, though, so bear that in mind when you're making your nighttime pirate plans.)

Make your pirate party fun and safe with HART and
the TECO Line Streetcar System!
And here's the most important tip of all: never, ever drink and drive. Responsible pirate partiers make sure everyone in their crew makes it back to home port safe and sound.

Check out the links below for more info, and have a fun - and safe - Gasparilla.

Click here for HART and TECO Line Streetcar  service during Gasparilla info.

For a map of HART and TECO Line Streetcar services in and around downtown during Gasparilla, click here.

To get more details on all the Gasparilla activities, go to the official event website here.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - News and Notes

Monday, January 16, marks a special day for America. It's a day celebrating the birth of a man that helped change society for the better by advancing equality and civil rights in the United States.

HART will operate on a Saturday schedule in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day with the TECO Line Streetcar on a normal Monday schedule (Noon to 10 p.m.).

The following services will not operate on Monday:
  • Express/Limited Express Routes
  • HARTFlex (South Tampa, South County and 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.

HART Customer Service centers at University Area Transit Center and Marion Transit Center will be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. HART on Franklin and all other HART offices will be closed.

The MLK Day service flyer can be downloaded here.

MLK Jr. Parade Detours:

Three routes will be on detour from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. due to the MLK parade:

  • Route 9: Bus stops along 15th St. between Lake and Hillsborough Ave. will not be served due to street closures from the MLK parade.
  • Route 12: Bus stops along 22nd St. between Lake and Hillsborough Ave. will not be served due to street closures from the MLK parade.
  • Route 32: Bus stops along MLK blvd. between Nebraska and 34th street will not be served due to street closures from the MLK parade.

It All Started on a Bus...

Ms. Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat
Martin Luther King, Jr. was the face, the voice and the spirit behind the civil rights movement, but he was not alone. It all started in 1955, when Rosa Parks, a seamstress, was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man, which was in violation of segregation laws at the time. She later appealed the conviction, challenging the legality of segregation. Rosa Park's actions soon prompted bus boycotts in Montgomery, Alabama, which lead to the desegregation of Montgomery buses and became one of the movement's first victories. The boycotts, led by King, propelled him to the champion the cause.

Bombed out bus of the Freedom Riders
The boycotts may have advanced the movement, but it wasn't until 1961, that widespread desegregation was in seen in mass transit.

Coming from a variety of racial, ethnic and economical backgrounds, 436 students risked their lives on buses, planes and trains, in pursuit of racial equality. What became known as "Freedom Rides" took place throughout the South in support of civil rights, where in some cases, participants were harassed, beaten and jailed.

Dr. Raymond Arsenault, Kredelle Petway, Dr. Bernard Lafayette Jr.
HART is honoring Dr. Bernard Lafayette Jr. and Kredelle Petway, throughout the month of January and February for their contributions toward advancing racial equality as part of the Freedom Riders. Joining them is Dr. Raymond Arsenault, author of the award winning book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice, which sparked a renewed interest in this amazing tale of courage and determination.

Keep on the lookout for a PSA featuring the trio on My Fox Tampa Bay (Channel 13 on most TVs). We'll also have more in depth posts featuring them individually in the coming weeks.

One man had a dream that one day all men would be created equal. That dream became a reality through the actions of many, including Rosa Parks and the Freedom Riders. It all started on a bus, and HART honors the role that transit played in advancing that dream of equality.

HART Board Takes a Position During Joint Meeting

“Efficiency” is the latest buzz word for governments and businesses, and certainly should be with our current economic environment. One idea to improve efficiency for this region’s transit service has been possibly consolidating HART and Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA).

But getting passed a cursory idea and further examining the details of consolidation now makes it a complex issue that deserves a complete breakdown to make sure it’s what makes sense for this community. Let’s take a stab here at mulling over some of the details and impacts potentially involved with consolidating transit agencies.

First, lets start with some background. The idea of consolidating HART and PSTA came to the table last year when State Sen. Jack Latvala discussed it during a HART Board meeting in September. Good or bad, this idea required fact-based analysis before moving forward with it. In that spirit and to protect local governance, fiscal responsibility, and most importantly, our transit service, the HART Board approved a Legislative Policy Statement in November to emphasize these guiding principles.

On Monday, the boards of directors for HART and PSTA held a joint meeting to provide updates, and discuss current and future opportunities for collaboration between the two agencies. That’s the thing – collaboration with PSTA or other transportation-related agencies is not a new concept for HART. Cross-county bus routes and combined purchases just to name a few. In fact, in fiscal year 2011, a fuel procurement consortium among HART, PSTA and Citrus Connection saved HART more than $1 million. And, yes, if there are additional similar savings to be had as a result of more collaboration – needless to say, we’re very open to that!

During the joint meeting, the boards also discussed Section 71 of Florida Senate Bill 1866, which had been filed earlier that day. Among other elements of the bill related to governance, it would require HART and PSTA to contribute $100,000 to Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA) to assist and facilitate a study of the consolidation issue. In concurrence to the HART Legislative Policy Statement, the HART Board voted unanimously to note its opposition to this portion of the bill -- as currently presented -- citing its impact to costs and governance, as well as its constrained timeframe. HART and PSTA board members agreed to meet in the future to identify opportunities for greater efficiency and continued collaboration on all aspects of transit planning and delivery, as suggested in the bill.

HART Board Vice Chair Steve Polzin, PhD
We’re fortunate to have a transportation researcher as vice chair of the HART Board. During the joint meeting, Steve Polzin, PhD, provided many thoughtful and well-documented comments about consolidation. During his briefing, he explained in great detail why merging transit agencies is difficult and does not necessarily result in cost savings.

The fact is that transit agencies are unique to the potential cost savings of mergers, and the geographies of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties compound that. For instance, the biggest cost to a transit agency is its workforce – most are drivers and mechanics -- and the number of these employees needed by a transit agency is in direct correlation to the amount of transit service provided by that agency. A merger doesn’t mean one driver will have the superpower to be behind the wheels of two buses simultaneously. Even Superman was never seen with his alter-ego, Clark Kent.

In addition, the presence of our (beautiful) bay between Hillsborough and Pinellas counties makes it that much more costly to subsidize deadhead – non revenue – miles and paratransit trips.

The Wall Street Journal published "When Civic Mergers Don't Save Money" in August 2011 that provides a national perspective about government consolidations. Moreover, the article reports that mergers rarely save money and actually might end up raising costs.

If lean times have provided us with anything, it's been the opportunity to think creatively and efficiently to save money. Pun intended -- we've really taken efficiency to HART!

HART Flex saves us $500,000 annually!
We mentioned the procurement consortium, but it doesn’t stop there. We've improved on-time performance by prioritizing bus stops and introduced new on-demand flex van service into five different zones -- this saves HART $500,000 annually. We've also become younger with age by replacing more than 60 buses and 30 paratransit vans over the last couple of years, which reduces the high maintenance costs associated with operating older buses.

In summary, when examining the issue of consolidation between HART and PSTA, the best question to ask ourselves is, Will it address the major issues we are currently faced with? This means will it dramatically increase revenues to fund enhanced local service, more technology or perhaps a transportation alternative?

What’s Next?

Business as usual - continuing to protect the transit interests of our customers and stakeholders, and wisely investing taxpayer money into high-quality bus and van service.

You’re numero uno to us, and it's important to keep you updated. Below is a news roundup and be sure to check back with us to find the latest or to comment on any developments.

News coverage of HART/PSTA joint board meeting:

TBO (Tampa Tribune Online)
Tampa Bay Business Journal
Creative Loafing

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tampa Tips for FMEA Conference Attendees!

HART and the TECO Line Streetcar would like to welcome all those in town for the Florida Music Educator's Association (FMEA) Conference!

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 - 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.

Welcome to Tampa and have a great time!