Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Transportation

New bus routes, times to start on Sunday in Hillsborough

TAMPA — More than a dozen bus routes in Hillsborough County will have new times, paths and stops starting Sunday.

The changes come almost four months after the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority rolled out an entirely new bus network, scrapping a fifth of its routes and increasing travel times on others in hopes of staving off a nationwide trend of declining bus ridership.

The system reboot known as "Mission Max’’ was greeted with mixed reviews. Some riders, such as Dustin Lemke of Tampa Heights, saw their trips improve thanks to the new schedules. Lemke’s route to Hillsborough Community College’s Dale Mabry campus, where he is a dean, dropped from 50 minutes door-to-door to 35 minutes.

But others, such as Temple Terrace residents, saw their bus routes disappear completely as HART sacrificed routes on the outskirts of the county in order to improve trips downtown and to key business centers.

Sunday’s changes were aimed at addressing complaints from riders who lost service or had worse commutes because of the October redesign.

About 1-in-5 of HART’s 43,000 riders didn’t see any benefit from the changes. And about 4,300 people were left with longer, more complicated commutes.

TAMPA BAY TIMES COVERAGE: HILLSBOROUGH BUS SERVICE

Hillsborough transit agency braces for overhaul of bus network, route cuts (June 6, 2017)

Depend on a HART bus to get around? Life could get harder. (Oct. 6, 2017)

New HART bus routes bring questions, headaches to riders (Oct. 9, 2017)

Hillsborough County Commissioners agreed last year to give $2.3 million to help HART address some of the concerns. The struggling transit agency has one of the smallest budgets in the nation for a transit agency its size.

Key changes include increased frequency on routes serving the University of South Florida, Town ’N Country and Tampa International Airport, in addition to new stops at International Plaza, MacDill Air Force Base and Tampa General Hospital.

"When we rolled out Mission Max earlier, there were some concerns and there were some complaints," HART chair and County Commissioner Les Miller said Monday. "People talked to us and we heard you. We heard you very loudly."

Miller said the changes should reduce wait times, travel times, service for those with disabilities, improve facilities and make the system easier to understand and use.

HART interim CEO Jeff Seward said he was hoping the initial changes in October would help stem the ridership decline that the agency, and most others across the country, have been experiencing.

However, ridership dropped by 10 percent, or more than 117,000 riders, from October 2016 to October 2017. In November, the first full month Mission Max was in effect, ridership declined 14 percent from the previous year, dropping below 1 million rides for the month.

Seward said he’ll feel more comfortable evaluating ridership numbers in May, once the entire plan has been in place for more than six months. If ridership is still declining, he said HART staff will sit down to figure out why and what changes can be made as quickly as possible.

"I did have an expectation after the changes were made that we’d start to see some plateauing," Seward said. "If we don’t start seeing that around May time, I’m going to start making a lot of recommendations to the board about changing our routes."

Those changes would take place in June or July, with additional changes coming in October, when the agency switches to a new fiscal year.

Contact Caitlin Johnston at [email protected] or (727) 893-8779. Follow @cljohnst.

Comments
Free rides on PSTA and HART buses to celebrate Earth Day

Free rides on PSTA and HART buses to celebrate Earth Day

Those who use mass transit across the Tampa Bay area can ride for free on Sunday.To celebrate Earth Day, both the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) will be offering free rides on Su...
Published: 04/19/18
She calmly landed the Southwest flight and broke barriers as a fighter pilot

She calmly landed the Southwest flight and broke barriers as a fighter pilot

The pilot’s voice was calm yet focused as her plane descended with 149 people on board."Southwest 1380, we’re single engine," Tammie Jo Shults, a former fighter pilot with the U.S. Navy, said. "We have part of the aircraft missing so we’re going to n...
Published: 04/18/18
Carlton: Thanks, Gov. Scott, for the dreaded trip across Interstate 4

Carlton: Thanks, Gov. Scott, for the dreaded trip across Interstate 4

The other day I had to go to Orlando from Tampa on Interstate 4, which has to be one of the most disliked highways in Florida. And I say this as someone who learned to drive on Miami’s I-95.It turned out to be the same root canal of a trip we’ve come...
Published: 04/18/18
NTSB: Blown Southwest jet engine showed ‘metal fatigue’

NTSB: Blown Southwest jet engine showed ‘metal fatigue’

PHILADELPHIA — A preliminary examination of the blown jet engine of the Southwest Airlines plane that set off a terrifying chain of events and left a businesswoman hanging half outside a shattered window showed evidence of "metal fatigue," according ...
Published: 04/18/18
Group promoting road safety out in force on 56th Street Monday

Group promoting road safety out in force on 56th Street Monday

TEMPLE TERRACE — If all goes as planned on Monday (April 23), at least 100 people will line the sides of one of the most dangerous stretches in Hillsborough County — 56th Street between Sligh Avenue and Busch Boulevard — in an effort to get motorists...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Big dig’s big cost: Pasco tunnel idea carries $550 million price tag

Big dig’s big cost: Pasco tunnel idea carries $550 million price tag

NEW PORT RICHEY — Construction costs to tunnel under U.S. 41 in central Pasco could top a half-billion dollars, four times the projected price of building elevated lanes above the highway’s intersection with State Road 54.The cost estimate, said Comm...
Published: 04/17/18
Dr. Delay: How to find out if you qualify for a speed hump; updates on the Pinellas Bayway

Dr. Delay: How to find out if you qualify for a speed hump; updates on the Pinellas Bayway

I live in St. Pete and would like to know how I could go about getting a speed hump installed on my street. Where do I start?Manuel Reyes, St. PetersburgThe place to start would be by contacting the St. Petersburg Neighborhood Transportation Manager,...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
He got fed up with Miami traffic, so now he commutes with dolphins and pelicans

He got fed up with Miami traffic, so now he commutes with dolphins and pelicans

Parker Lake got sick of the rat race. Sick of working in a cubicle. Sick of commuting on Miami’s mean streets. Sick of being overweight from sitting at a desk or in traffic jams.So Lake quit his unfulfilling job, sold his car and moved to a house on ...
Published: 04/09/18
A sixth person killed by the high-speed Brightline train in Florida

A sixth person killed by the high-speed Brightline train in Florida

The Brightline train fatally struck a man Sunday, bringing the total killed by the train to six people since it began test runs last year.The Delray Beach Police Department announced on Twitter that a pedestrian was hit Sunday by a northbound Brightl...
Published: 04/09/18
Dr. Delay: Will the lights at 87th Avenue N and Fourth Street cause extra congestion?

Dr. Delay: Will the lights at 87th Avenue N and Fourth Street cause extra congestion?

Massive new street signals were erected at the intersection of 87th Avenue N. and Fourth Street, just four blocks north from the light-controlled intersection at 83rd Avenue N. At the same time a new WaWa store/gas station is being constructed near 8...
Updated one month ago