Catching a public bus to Tampa International Airport could become a lot less convenient in November.
As part of a package of cost-saving measures, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority has proposed slashing bus service from downtown Tampa and Town 'N Country to the airport.
The agency would cut frequencies from 15 minutes to 30 minutes on weekdays and from 30 minutes to 60 minutes on Sunday. Saturday would remain the same. The changes, which will save HART $690,000 a year, worry airport CEO Joe Lopano.
"We have a lot of employees who use HARTline every day," he said. "Most of our employees are price-sensitive. That's why this type of transportation is important to us."
On Monday, he and airport senior staffers rode the route from TIA to the Marion Street transit station and back. Lopano noticed one change that could help bolster ridership: more and better signs directing travelers in the airport's main terminal to a bus stop outside.
The route is an underachiever, said Marcia Mejia, a HART spokeswoman. It generates 16 passengers an hour, about half the traffic as more popular routes with the same frequency.
The agency's governing board is scheduled to vote on all the November schedule changes Aug. 1. A public hearing is set for Thursday at TECO Energy headquarters in Tampa.
Steve Huettel can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3384.