Friday, January 25, 2013

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 25th.

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. Please note that if you ABSOLUTELY want to ride the streetcar, boarding at Centennial Park (station #1) is your best bet. Otherwise, continuous HART bus service will be available (for $4) at Streetcar Society and Cadrecha Plaza stations. 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.

We stress that you bring small bills (exact change is only provided at Ticket Vending Machines, streetcar motormen and HART bus operators do not provide change).

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 6 p.m. on Saturday, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the parade and Pirate Fest, and to try some of the wonderful bars and restaurants (ahem, Taco Bus) that have been popping up downtown. You can use the rubber-wheeled trolley 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?

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.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tampa Receives Federal Grant for Transit Employment Training

This week, Tampa was awarded $234,281 from the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Innovative Transit Workforce Development Program to implement "Meeting Today's and Tomorrow's Job Needs in Mass Transit," a recruitment and training partnership between the Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa, Inc. (CDC of Tampa) and HART. This project will recruit, train and employ up to 30 people in the transit industry, including transit operations and maintenance workers.

The CDC will partner with HART
"We are excited about the partnership which will help solve a skills training void in the community," stated Ernest Coney Jr., CEO of the CDC of Tampa.  "The partnership will result in livable wage jobs and career paths that will continue to transform Tampa/ Hillsborough into a vibrant and strong community."

The CDC of Tampa is the direct recipient of the grant, and is one of 17 organizations in 12 states to share $7 million from the FTA Innovative Transit Workforce Development Program. The purpose of the grant is to help local public transit agencies, institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations and Native American tribes train a future generation of transit professionals, with particular emphasis on promoting training opportunities in emerging technologies and encouraging young people to pursue careers in public transportation.

"HART will soon begin using new technologies and advanced practices -- such as transit signal priority and compressed natural gas vehicles -- to keep our local public transit system modern and environmentally sustainable," HART CEO Philip Hale said. "This federal grant will fund a partnership project between HART and the CDC of Tampa that will provide the type of advanced training needed to develop highly qualified candidates to serve the future of public transit."

Training for jobs such as mechanics will be provided
The CDC of Tampa will provide enrolled candidates with certification-based transit training, job placement services and case management services. HART will work with the CDC of Tampa in developing benchmark standards for training; provide access to training staff and facilities; and assist with the CDC of Tampa's training compliance standard.

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

Take the streetcar to the Pirate frenzy!
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. 26. 

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 2013 -- Streetcar and Bus service
  • Continuous service 9 a.m. - 2 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.
  • Stations 5, 6, 7, 9 and 11 will be closed 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Stations 5, 6, 7, 9 will be open for bus service only. See Map for Gasparilla 2013.
For more information on the TECO Line Streetcar System, visit

    HART Bus Service

    • For those parking in Ybor City, bus service will be available during peak times in the morning and afternoon between Ybor City (Streetcar Society Station) and Downtown Tampa (Dick Greco Plaza) View Map for Gasparilla 2013 -- Streetcar and Bus Service 
    • $4 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 2013
    • Continuous service 9 a.m. -  6 p.m.
    • 25¢ or streetcar/bus all-day passes accepted

    Getting to Downtown Tampa on HART

    Click here to view the HART system map.  Click here for a list of HART service detours during the Gasparilla Pirate Fest.

    Leave the gray hairs to Jack Sparrow!
    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

    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.