Thursday, September 20, 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
Local hospital groups back transportation sales tax plan with $175,000 in donations

Local hospital groups back transportation sales tax plan with $175,000 in donations

TAMPA — Two local hospital groups have donated a combined $175,000 to the group campaigning for a sales tax hike to pay for transportation improvements. They say the ballot measure will increase access to medical care and provide transportation optio...
Published: 09/14/18
Hillsborough MPO holds Southshore transit meeting

Hillsborough MPO holds Southshore transit meeting

Hillsborough MPO will hold an open house from 5:30-7 p.m. on Thursday (Sept. 13) at the SouthShore Regional Library, 15816 Beth Shields Way in Ruskin. The open house will cover the SouthShore Transit Study reevaluation.All residents who want better t...
Published: 09/06/18
Updated: 09/10/18

Pasco road planners push path beneath U.S. 19 bridge for pedestrian safety

PORT RICHEY — More than a decade after the city of Port Richey studied the idea of building a pedestrian path beneath U.S. 19 at the Pithlachascotee River bridge, county transportation leaders are poised to do likewise.Later this month, the Pasco Met...
Published: 09/06/18
State: BRT could get its own lane on new Howard Frankland Bridge

State: BRT could get its own lane on new Howard Frankland Bridge

The Florida Department of Transportation says it has a back-up plan to create a dedicated lane for bus rapid transit on the new Howard Frankland Bridge in case the current plan for BRT doesn’t work out.A draft request for proposals to design and buil...
Updated one month ago
Serious upgrade, from golf carts to Teslas, for riders of free downtown shuttle

Serious upgrade, from golf carts to Teslas, for riders of free downtown shuttle

TAMPA — Many people who ride the free, app-based shuttle known as the Downtowner are getting a shock this month when their driver pulls up.Since it launched two years ago, the service has relied on a fleet of GEM electric vehicles that look like elon...
Updated one month ago
Part of Selmon Expressway shut down until Monday morning

Part of Selmon Expressway shut down until Monday morning

Due to construction activities, crews have temporarily shut down the Selmon Expressway westbound at Gandy Boulevard with the anticipation that it will reopen before Monday’s morning rush hour traffic.In the meantime, travelers can use the detour at E...
Updated one month ago
Brightline’s combination of rail and development in Miami makes believers of Tampa leaders

Brightline’s combination of rail and development in Miami makes believers of Tampa leaders

MIAMI — Tampa leaders on Thursday flew to South Florida to check out Brightline’s ambitious combination of city-to-city rail service and $1.8 billion in downtown towers — both privately financed.And seeing made the most vocal among them believers."I ...
Updated one month ago
Dedicated BRT lanes for new Howard Frankland Bridge in doubt

Dedicated BRT lanes for new Howard Frankland Bridge in doubt

The state is inching closer to building a new Howard Frankland Bridge — but the project seems to be moving forward without an exclusive lane for a three-county bus rapid transit system.The proposed 41-mile BRT line that would connect St. Petersburg, ...
Updated one month ago