TAMPA — The first shuttle pulled out of the lot at Meridian Pointe Apartments about five minutes before 7 a.m., just as 16-year-old Elijah Collins came jogging behind it.
A security guard yelled for the shuttle to stop. But Collins said it was okay, he would catch the next one in a few minutes.
For Collins, a ninth-grader at Middleton High School, the new shuttle makes getting to school on time much easier than having to brave the traffic on Hillsborough Avenue.
"In my eyes, it's a lot safer," he said. "You don't have to keep looking back and forth everywhere you go."
The shuttle began moving students between the apartment complex to Middleton this week in the wake of a series of student pedestrian deaths and injuries.
For Collins, the change makes getting to school on time less of a headache. And it's more comfortable than a regular school bus, with cushioned seats and speakers that play popular music.
Since it began operating Monday, about a dozen kids from the complex have taken the shuttle to and from school, Collins said. That's about half of the total number of students who live there.
The shuttle costs the Hillsborough County School District about $250 a day, for a total of $8,000 through the end of the school year. The district also spoke with the Florida Department of Transportation and Tampa. There are plans now to add a crosswalk and a traffic signal near the apartment complex. And the city says it will improve signs and reset the timing on traffic signals to allow pedestrians more time to cross Hillsborough.