Thursday, March 22, 2018

Giving Riders a Voice

Mission MAX launched on October 8, 2017!
By now, you're probably familiar with Mission MAX, a major redesign of the HART service network that began with a relaunch in late 2017.

While the majority of riders experienced improved service, a portion of our riders were negatively impacted by the changes.

Since the Oct. 8 relaunch, HART has been listening and taking action. Patron concerns were concentrated primarily in the Town 'N Country area, University area, Temple Terrace, and South County. While HART currently doesn't have the funding to implement all the requested changes, we are constantly working to address obstacles and provide the most effective and sustainable service as possible.

Shortly after the new system came online, we implemented modifications immediately, such as adding trips on the Route 6 and Route 24LX to reduce overcrowding. We added Tampa General Hospital and Tampa International Airport shuttles, and started analyzing how routes connect at the Airport.

In January, we came across a Letter to the Editor from a local business owner, telling the story of a couple of employees that were consistently late and frustrated, following the launch of Mission MAX.

After seeing the letter, HART COO Ruthie Reyes Burckard reached out to Mr. Krantz.

One employee relied on route(s) 30, 34, and the new 60LX to get to work. The commute was less than ideal.

A month later, HART rolled out a second wave of improvements that went into effect on Feb. 25. Those tweaks included increased frequency on a number of routes, including Route 6 and Route 34, adding trips on Route 24LX, reinstating the southbound Route 19, taking Route 46 off of Oakfield Dr., and more.

We are happy to report that thanks to the creation of the 30-minute Route 35 and now 15-minute Route 34, his commute has improved significantly!

However, the Mission isn't over.

Route 275 alignment proposals
HART staff is currently out in the community gathering feedback on the proposed 275LX. The route has three proposed alignments for consideration, featuring service between Wesley Chapel, the University area, Downtown Tampa, and possibly Tampa International Airport.

The public hearing for the Route 275LX will take place at the New Tampa Regional Library on March 28, from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Can't attend the meeting? Email your comments (including alignment selection) to

In the upcoming months, the fifth wave of the HART Voice of the Customer (VOC) survey will take place on board buses, and at transit centers throughout the system. This survey will gauge customer satisfaction in a number of categories. It will be the first VOC since the launch of Mission MAX.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Celebrating the Women of HART!

HART celebrates the Women of HART!
In honor of Women's History Month, the HART is featuring the women of our agency by showcasing their views about the role of women in transit and what advice they have for younger women in our industry. Women in transit have unique perspectives and talents, and we're honored to share their voice throughout the month of March.

"HART believes that a diversified workforce is the key to a strong future," said HART Interim CEO, Jeff Seward. "We have some incredible women employed across the ranks at HART, and it's their unique viewpoints and invaluable insights that have only strengthened the organization and improved services. I hope you'll join me in honoring our women not only through the month of March, but all year long."

You can read some of their comments below to learn what Women's History Month means to them, what makes HART a great place to work, and their experience as a women in the transit industry.

What is the most exciting thing about being a woman in the transit industry today?

Connie Cosme - TECO Line Streetcar Motorwoman
"Working with all the men and being the only women for quite some time. It has had its challenges, but I've stuck it out. I keep the men in check."

- Connie Cosme, TECO Line Streetcar Motorwoman 

"Seeing the growth of woman in the industry. We've seen so many changes for women in key roles."

- Ruthie Reyes Burckard, HART Chief Operating Officer - 16 years

What does Women's History Month mean to you?

Latisha Jones - HART Van Operator
"I see Women's History month as a dedicated period for the celebration of women's achievements and contributions, but my first thought is women have come a long way from being a voice in society, to becoming extraordinary, educated and prominent women in society. I look at women in transit who helped shape the transit industry, like Sarah B. Owens and Sarah Grayson both African-American women who paved the way for women like me."

- Latisha Jones, HART Van Operator - 5 years

What's the best piece of professional advice that you've given other women?

Delores Chatman - HART Bus Operator
"Be yourself. The world looks at you and they see who you are. You don't have to play games with them or anything like that. Be yourself. Be respectful and be yourself."

- Delores Chatman, HART Bus Operator - 14 years

"You will learn to respect every entity of what you supervised because you once did it. All you need is a good education, good experience and number one great personality. "

- Latisha Jones, HART Van Operator - 5 years

Kenyatta Lee - HART CAO (RIGHT)
"Just make sure that you're the best that you can be, in anything that you strive to do. Take those opportunities to actually advance yourself to learn more."

- Kenyatta Lee, HART Chief Administrative Officer and Interim Chief of Staff - 1 ½ years 

What do you think makes HART a great place to work?

Ruthie Reyes Burckard - HART COO
"The opportunities that we present to employees internally. We do a lot of hiring from within and promoting up. So for me, the opportunities that have been shown to me, and afforded to me, really give me a different perspective throughout the different jobs that I've done."

- Ruthie Reyes Burckard, HART Chief Operating Officer - 16 years

"It's always been the people for me here. It's pretty good being able to meet people from all over, and HART has given me that opportunity to work with them. Pretty neat, and it's definitely different on my resume."

- Connie Cosme, TECO Line Streetcar Motorwoman  - 15 ½ years

HART believes that having strong women representation in its workforce sets a good example for other organizations and industries. Women in different positions throughout the agency, sets a stellar example to encourage and inspire the up-and-coming generation of young women to follow their career dreams and also help lead the world forward.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Women of HART: Connie Cosme

Ms. Cosme on #429, the car she operated at the Grand Opening
Meet Connie Cosme. She has worked at HART as a TECO Line Streetcar motorwoman for over 15 years. 

Ms. Cosme's tenure at HART actually PREDATES the current TECO Line Streetcar. She was a part of the original crew of motorpersons when the system launched on Oct. 19, 2002.

"I met a lady that day (the Grand Opening) that came up to me and told me 'I did a great job.'" Ms. Cosme said. "Turns out, the woman was a motorwoman for the original Tampa streetcar system, while the men were away at war (World War II)."

Fast forward almost 16 years later, and Ms. Cosme is our most decorated motorperson!

Ms. Cosme receiving her Million Mile Award in 2016!
She is the FIRST streetcar motorperson to be awarded with a Million Miles award! The Million Miles award recognizes a commitment to safety, and great driving skills. It takes roughly 14 YEARS of driving without a preventable accident, to achieve this recognition. Our riders are precious cargo!

Ms. Cosme says that while it's "different" being a woman in a male-dominated profession, she likes it and "keeps the men in check."

The thing she likes the most about her job is the people.

"I love being able to take seniors back in time to when they were younger (when the streetcar was only 5¢). I love meeting people from all over and seeing the sparkle in a kid's eye when they board the Streetcar."

Connie, our Streetcar Wonder Woman!

Ms. Cosme back in 2003

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Join the Flock: HART Needs Flamingo Fares Testers!

Join the flock - we need Flamingo Fares Testers!
Flamingo Fares continues to take flight!

HART and PSTA are currently seeking the public's help in beta testing Flamingo Fares, our new mobile ticketing app and smartcard system, before we release it to the general public later this year.

HART and PSTA, along with transit systems in Pasco, Sarasota, and Hernando counties are adopting Flamingo Fares as the regional fare collection system, which will allow riders to use a single payment method for travel on/between any of the participating transit systems.

Recruitment for the testing phase is now open and will run through mid-April. Hillsborough and Pinellas counties are each seeking 200 participants interested in testing the phone app and smartcard. Interested participants can apply at either or, depending on the county in which they primarily ride. Selected participants will receive an email within two weeks of submitting their application with instructions and next steps.

Flamingo Fares has been in pilot testing (with limited fares) since 2016.

Fare Capping

A new feature that will launch with Flamingo Fares later this year is fare capping.

Fare-capping provides a "fairer" way to pay, with "pay-as-you-go" pricing!

For example, instead of a purchasing a 31-day pass upfront, once you ridden HART enough to "earn" a 31-day pass, you won't be charged the rest of the month! Take advantage of the financial benefit of purchasing a 31-day pass - without the upfront cost!

Check out the video below for more information on how fare capping works.

Our initial testing group will provide our teams with valuable insight and feedback to ensure a smooth deployment once the service launches later this year.

For more information on Flamingo Fares, click here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Women of HART: Zemmie Jones

In celebration of March as Women's History Month, we're shining the light on the fantastic women that make up HART! First up is Zemmie Jones.

Ms. Jones has worked at HART for almost 18 years as a Maintenance Attendant.

Growing up in Waynesboro, GA, Ms. Jones says she always found inspiration from her grandmother.

"My grandmother taught me that if I worked hard, I could be anything that I wanted to be. She always told me to keep a good heart."

And in Ms. Jones, that heart shines through at HART.

Volunteering with HART co-workers for Paint Your Heart Out, the HART Wellness program, Annual Regional Roadeo, etc., she is a busy woman.

In addition to her community and HART participation, Ms. Jones is a mother to one son, 2 granddaughters and 3 grandsons.

One of her granddaughters is graduating in the spring.

"It's important to go to school and get your education. Young woman especially, have to fight for respect, and need an education to make something of themselves. Once you get your education, the sky is the limit." says Ms. Jones.

Something tells us that just like her grandmother before her, Zemmie is the inspiration to the younger generation of women in her family.

Fun, Food, and Fierce Competition at 2018 HART/PSTA Regional Bus Roadeo

HART and PSTA held the annual Regional Roadeo last weekend at the HART Operations and Maintenance Facility. Bus and van operators from HART and PSTA, as well as, two teams of PSTA mechanics showcased their driving and vehicle maintenance skills. 

"I am proud of all our drivers who participated in the HART and PSTA Regional Bus Roadeo," said HART Chief Operating Officer Ruthie Reyes Burckard. "Their participation is voluntary and demonstrates their commitment to safety and strengthening their skills."
More than 29 operators were judged on a rigid, scored course, consisting of 11 different obstacles. Operators were evaluated on 16 criteria including a pre-trip inspection of their vehicle, uniform compliance, 11 different driving challenges, smoothness of operation, and safety habits - all on a timed course. The van operators competition consisted of the same obstacle course and also included a wheelchair deployment following ADA protocol as part of their criteria. The 6 PSTA maintenance technicians were tasked with finding preset defects on six modules including air conditioning, powertrain, and more. Participants also had to conduct a vehicle inspection to locate pre-set defects that would render the vehicle inoperable and/or unsafe.

Operators were judged on 11 different obstacles
Joining these competitors were approximately 75 employees and vendors from both agencies who volunteered as judges and assessed contestants driving skills, knowledge of safety rules, time performance and maintenance skills. First place finishers advanced to the State competition held in Daytona Beach on April 27 and could advance to the 2018 APTA International Bus Roadeo hosted jointly by HART and PSTA at the PSTA Operations facility in St. Petersburg on May 6, 2018.


HART - Bus Operators - Top 3

  • 1st Place - Guardionex Falero-Ramos - Fourth Roadeo; two 2nd Place and one 3rd Place finishes
  • 2nd Place - Maged Botros - First Roadeo
  • 3rd Place - Eric McKethan - Fourth Roadeo; one top 10, and two first place finishes
  • 1st Place - Alfred Patterson - Third Roadeo; first top 5 finish
  • 2nd Place - LaShawn Vickers - First Roadeo
  • 3rd Place - Francisco Guerrero - First Roadeo


PSTA winners
  • 1st Place -Nehemia Guerra
  • 2nd Place - Randy Pinto
  • 3rd Place - Jose Colindres


  • 1st Place - Tyler Johnson, Bobby Farris, and Paul Levesque
  • 2nd Place - Derrick Brown, Zach Hulet, and Tim Sandmeyer

Fun was had by all!