Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Employees to Vote for Art on HART!

With beautiful murals popping up on the sides of Tampa Bay businesses, warehouses, etc., HART and the Tampa Bay Foundation for Architecture & Design (TBFAD) saw a great opportunity to provide a talented local artist with a unique (and mobile) canvas - a bus!

TBFAD put out a call for local artists to provide artwork to be wrapped around a bus for an entire year. After narrowing the list to three "finalists," HART employees are now being given the opportunity to vote for their favorite artwork.

Public transportation and art are sewn into the fabric of communities across the world. HART and TBFAD hope this collaboration can forge future opportunities to further marry the local art scene with local transit and promote artistic expression throughout Hillsborough County.

All three Tampa Bay area artists, whose exceptional designs captured the theme of "Tampa culture," earned the chance to have their designs showcased.

The winner will have their bus canvas publicly unveiled in the coming weeks.

HART and TBFAD are excited to have the opportunity to showcase a local artist and transform an ordinary bus into an extraordinary mobile work of art!

Stay tuned.

Art Wrap Entries:

Entry #1 - Carlos "Zulu Painter" Culbertson

Entry #2 - Michelle Sawyer and Tony Krol

Entry #3 - Michael O' Connell

Thursday, August 2, 2018

HART Recognizes Safe Operators with "Million Mile" Awards!

Imagine driving a million miles - 40 times around the earth's circumference - without a preventable accident. Now imagine accomplishing such a feat as the driver of a 40-foot bus!

Thirteen HART operators, joined by their families, were recognized on Tuesday, July 31, during the Authority's Third Annual HART Million Mile Safe Driver Awards Luncheon in honor of those who achieved outstanding safety milestones in safe driving and service.

How far is a million miles? It is like driving 769 one-way trips - from Tampa to New York City.

"In today's driving conditions these operators have accomplished something that demonstrates their high level of safety consciousness and commitment to the safety of their passengers, fellow motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists," said HART Interim CEO Jeff Seward. "We congratulate these accomplished bus operators and thank them for their hard work and dedication. These elite men and women consistently demonstrate advanced skills and concentration levels to achieve the Million Miler status."

One could travel to the moon and back twice before reaching a million miles, yet 11 HART Bus Operators achieved this well within earth's atmosphere. Driving 14 consecutive years without a preventable accident, the Authority's newest Million Mile operators are Kenneth Beach, Rufus Blake, Theresa Briseneau, Tito Goicochea, Marc Henry, Dinesta McBride, Henry Morales, Gustavo Pachon, Jimmy Suarez, Bridget Williams, and Tyran Williams.

"HART's Million Mile Safe Driver Awards program allows executive leadership and management to recognize and honor those who have served the public in a safe and customer-centric manner," said Chief Administrative Officer and Interim Chief of Staff Kenyatta Lee. "This is a great opportunity to show our appreciation for the best of the best, who take great care of the Authority's customers and vehicles. "

Two Million Mile Club: Cosme Garcia (left); Tony Hernandez (right)
HART bus operators Cosme Garcia and Tony Hernandez join the prestigious two million mile club. In the world of a HART bus operator, this incredible achievement equates to 27 years of driving a bus without having a preventable accident.

When asked what it requires to drive so many miles without a preventable accident, two million miler Operator Cosme Garcia said that it is a great accomplishment. "You see others achieve it and you strive for it. As a driver, you appreciate this perhaps more than others might, just by witnessing all the incidents that take place on the road. The key to safety is not only to be focused on your actions but also be observant of other's actions to ensure nothing happens," he said. 

Congrats to all of our Million Milers!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The TECO Line Streetcar is Going Fare Free!

The TECO Line Streetcar will soon be fare free
The TECO Line Streetcar System will soon be fare free!

HART has been awarded $2.7 million in grant funding from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) that will support extending TECO Line Streetcar service hours, increasing frequency, and providing free rides to customers for the next three years.

"We want to first thank FDOT District Seven Secretary David Gwynn and his team for their continued support of HART. This funding will be a major step forward for HART to be able to continue delivering essential TECO Line Streetcar service for the City of Tampa," said HART Interim CEO, Jeff Seward. "Enhanced streetcar service will better connect downtown Tampa and historic Ybor City, giving residents and tourists another commuter option, as they travel around downtown for business or leisure." 

The $2.7 million grant will be used to increase Streetcar service from every 20 minutes to every 15 minutes and provide extended service hours. The increased streetcar service will improve mobility and access by affording residents access to additional job opportunities, and provide enhanced connectivity in downtown, the Channel District, and Ybor City.

The enhanced streetcar service will accomplish multiple goals; however, the primary objective is to add another mobility and connectivity option for residents, employees, and visitors in downtown Tampa and the city at large. With planned extensions, the Streetcar will also create a vital connection between downtown and neighborhoods and further spread the vibrancy and development that is currently being seen in the downtown area. The Streetcar Extension Study from Downtown Tampa to Tampa Heights, also funded by FDOT, is currently in project development to pursue federal funding.

"This grant funding gives the TECO Line Streetcar System the opportunity to be a more viable transportation option for residents and tourists in Tampa. As wait lists
for downtown parking increase, and Water Street construction gets underway, the TECO Line Streetcar becomes an invaluable travel option for those living and working in downtown and historic Ybor City. This could be a game changer for transportation in downtown Tampa." said Tampa Historic Streetcar, Inc. (THS) President Michael English.

The FDOT grant will help boost ridership and increase efficiency of the TECO Line Streetcar System, providing greater opportunity for the Authority to provide a commuter service that meets the growing needs of Tampa's downtown community.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Be Prepared this Hurricane Season!

HART provides Emergency Evacuation Service
With the Atlantic hurricane season officially beginning on June 1st, it's a great reminder of the importance of having a severe weather plan BEFORE a storm hits. Unlike earthquakes or tornadoes, which can happen in an instant, hurricanes tend to provide a lot of warning.

HART buses run special evacuation routes for people who need transportation to shelters. HART and the Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management urge you to make arrangements now for the safety of your family, should a storm force you from your home.

HART Emergency Evacuation service is not limited to hurricane evacuation, however. The Office of Emergency Management can call on HART as an official evacuation partner of Hillsborough County to implement service in an emergency evacuation situation in which it is safe to carry out service. 

Know your plan

Map of Hillsborough County Evacuation Routes
For the safety of our riders and employees, regular HART service will cease if sustained winds reach 39 mph. HART was forced to cease service following Hurricane Irma last year.

HART service will also cease if the Office of Emergency Management instructs HART to begin operation of Emergency Evacuation service, after shelters have opened.

Our emergency routes are designed to transport people from low-lying areas to higher ground.

Because of this, if a major storm threatens our area, you should plan for the possibility of service interruptions.

To minimize inconvenience to our customers, we will announce the need to interrupt service as early in the day as possible, and will work to restore service just as soon as it is safe to do so.

The primary goal for you is to be prepared and have a plan. Don't wait until the last minute to make arrangements or you may find yourself stranded.

For more detailed information on the service and service plans in case of emergency, please click here.

For information on Hillsborough County shelters, weather alerts, etc. please visit Hillsborough County Emergency Management page.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Unfunded Needs Show Importance of Infrastructure Investment

HART requires a new, fully functional, state of the art maintenance facility.

It feels as if Americans are collectively holding our breath when it comes to our infrastructure: Slamming into a pothole, or driving over a deficient bridge, or the sheer number of automobiles on our roads causing traffic congestion are all infrastructure repair issues. The majority of our citizens are in suspense, pondering if another infrastructure tragedy might happen or if we will be unscathed one more day.

None of this is new. Our nation's infrastructure has been in a slow-motion decline, right before our eyes, for decades. 

HART shares similar infrastructure stumbling blocks as other transit systems across the country, which can create tremendous obstacles for the Authority as we plan for future growth. Some of these challenges include maintaining our maintenance facility, busways, streetcar system, and updating our bus fleet to name a few.

The high cost of maintaining our infrastructure comes at the expense of expansion to meet the real demand for public transportation in Hillsborough County. How to strike a balance between high capital costs for infrastructure repair and the need for service expansion remains a primary concern. The answer is an investment in safety measures and modernization, as well as,
identifying long-term sustainable and reliable funding sources.

Our transit system needs a viable and reliable long-term capital funding source. What could increased capital investment in our county fund? According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), every billion dollars invested in public transportation supports and creates more than 50,000 jobs. Another excellent example of the impact public transportation has on our economy is for every $1 spent on public transit, $4 is pumped back into the economy. Returns like that are priceless.

For HART employees and customers in Hillsborough County, these dollars could fund:
  • Heavy Maintenance Facility - HART is requesting $10 million to construct a new maintenance facility to replace the existing maintenance building. The project would consist of a service area with bus lifts and other heavy maintenance equipment, storm-water treatment, canopied fuel island, wash facility, restrooms, break rooms, electronic shop, classrooms, maintenance offices and support area. This new facility would support HART's approach to modern, efficient transit maintenance service.
  • HART MetroRapid BRT Study - HART's Bus Rapid Transit design/engineering study of the Nebraska Avenue MetroRapid corridor, the Fowler Avenue corridor, and the Florida Avenue corridor. FDOT has dedicated $2.5 million in the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) to work with HART and local stakeholders to fund a design/engineering study of these important corridors. Enhancing MetroRapid to adopt many of the attributes of BRT service will expand the potential market and increase the chances for a Small Starts/grant for the East-West line. This project could potentially qualify for the FTA Small Starts funding.
  • TECO Line Streetcar System Extension - The proposed extension would extend the existing 2.7-mile streetcar line. The two preferred routes would travel an additional 1.3 miles from E Whiting Street north to E Palm Avenue.This project would open up the possibilities for further economic development and Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) along the proposed line.
HART requires a new, fully functional, state of the art maintenance facility.

The demand for transit growth in Hillsborough County is evident - we see it monthly at our Board of Directors meetings as countless numbers of residents and organizations approach us with requests for new and expanded service. Customers want to experience shorter trip times, higher frequency, fewer hassles while commuting; which are improvements HART recently implemented during our Mission MAX system redesign. 

If we want a modern, safe, reliable transit system, we need to act now. The Tampa region deserves world-class infrastructure, and our stakeholders deserve nothing less. Let's use our collective voice to send a message to our elected leaders to close the infrastructure investment gap and demand that sustainable, long-term funding for transit is a priority.