Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Transportation

Hillsborough transit board okays smaller budget for smaller system

TAMPA — Hillsborough's transit board is closer to launching its revamped bus network after approving a 2018 budget and tax rate earlier this week.

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority voted Monday to keep the property tax rate the same at 50 cents per $1,000, a total of $100 for the owner of a home valued for tax purposes at $200,000.

The board has not raised property taxes, a major source of income for the transit authority, since 2012. HART chairman and County Commissioner Les Miller proposed raising the rate earlier this year but got little support from fellow board members.

HART's budget will decrease by 3 percent for the next fiscal year, to $99.9 million.

The authority's operating budget — the money spent running buses and providing service throughout the county — will be nearly $71 million, $2.1 million less than the current budget.

LONG WAY TO GO: Here's why Tampa Bay has one of the nation's worst transit systems

MISSING THE BUS: Even transit leaders don't rely on their own system

HART's chief financial officer Jeff Seward estimates the new bus routes and schedules, branded MissionMax, will help the agency save about $6 million.

"This budget shows that we're moving ahead with our plans to transform HART for the future," Seward said. "Our customers, taxpayers and the general public should be confident that HART is making the best use of the financial resources entrusted to us as we move forward."

When MissionMax launches Oct. 8, about 20 percent of routes will be eliminated and others will be reshaped extensively. Some stops will be dropped, too. Buses on other routes will run more often and along straighter paths.

HART also is launching a new HyperLink zone in Temple Terrace, which allows people to catch a ride to a nearby transit center for $1 — a third of the normal $3 fare — and catch different bus routes.

HART officials estimate the new system will improve travel times and provide smoother connections for about 80 percent of riders. But board members heard from two people at Monday night's meeting representing the other 20 percent of riders for whom life will be more difficult once their routes are dropped in two weeks.

"It seems that there's a big notch out where I live in Temple Terrace where there's no buses going through," Christopher Gleason told the board. "There's no safe way for me without a vehicle to get anywhere."

MissionMax eliminates two routes in Temple Terrace, leaving residents there with limited options, Gleason said.

The goal of MissionMax is to reshape the system and increase service and frequency on core routes while staying within the existing budget.

In order to run buses more often without raising the budget, HART officials said, they had to cut some routes in regions such as Town 'N Country and southern Hillsborough County, which are farther from central urban areas.

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

Comments
Florida has a gem of an idea to move traffic on and off I-75. It's called diverging diamonds

Florida has a gem of an idea to move traffic on and off I-75. It's called diverging diamonds

TAMPA — Driving on the wrong side of the road isn’t just for the British any more under an innovative plan for moving traffic through three local Interstate 75 interchanges. Construction will soon begin on a $37 million, three-year proje...
Published: 05/21/18
More parking for the Straz Center? So far, the proposal is getting little traction

More parking for the Straz Center? So far, the proposal is getting little traction

TAMPA — Parking has been a problem at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts since downtown began to emerge from the recession nearly a decade ago.The crunch looks likely to continue.A Straz plan to expand parking at its arrival plaza ...
Published: 05/18/18
More St. Petersburg residents using bike-share program on a regular basis

More St. Petersburg residents using bike-share program on a regular basis

ST. PETERSBURG — Cycling downtown on a blue basket bicycle has proven to be a popular pastime, according to the first yearly report provided by the Coast Bike Share. In an update presented to the St. Petersburg City Council, Coast announced that 45,6...
Published: 05/16/18
Co-pilot sucked halfway out of plane after windshield cracks over China

Co-pilot sucked halfway out of plane after windshield cracks over China

Getting sucked halfway out of a plane window is the stuff of movies and nightmares and it happens extremely rarely.But in mid-April, a female passenger died after being partially sucked out of a Southwest Airlines flight when one of the aircraft’s en...
Published: 05/16/18
MH370 experts think they’ve finally solved the mystery of the doomed Malaysia Airlines flight

MH370 experts think they’ve finally solved the mystery of the doomed Malaysia Airlines flight

All but one of the 239 people on the doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had probably been unconscious — incapacitated by the sudden depressurization of the Boeing 777 — and had no way of knowing that they were on an hours-long, meandering path to th...
Published: 05/15/18
Pasco buries tunnel proposal at U.S. 41 and SR 54

Pasco buries tunnel proposal at U.S. 41 and SR 54

DADE CITY — Transportation planners are burying the idea of tunneling under U.S. 41 to ease traffic congestion at the road’s intersection with State Road 54 in central Pasco.Even with the conceptual cost dropping $300 million, Pasco’s elected county...
Published: 05/11/18
Updated: 05/13/18
Florida Supreme Court: Cameras a legal way to catch red light runners

Florida Supreme Court: Cameras a legal way to catch red light runners

TALLAHASSEE — Traffic cameras are a legal way to catch red light runners, the Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a verdict that likely marks the end of a class-action lawsuit seeking refunds for ticketed motorists.In a unanimous verdict, Supreme...
Updated one month ago
Southwest plane with cracked window diverted to Cleveland

Southwest plane with cracked window diverted to Cleveland

CLEVELAND — A cracked window on a Southwest Airlines plane forced a plane heading from Chicago to New Jersey to land in Cleveland Wednesday, just two weeks after a jet engine blew apart and broke a window in a deadly accident aboard another Southwest...
Updated one month ago
No tolls for I-275, FDOT decides, but now its focus switches to I-75

No tolls for I-275, FDOT decides, but now its focus switches to I-75

TAMPA — A plan for express toll lanes on Interstate 275 north through Bearss Avenue is officially dead.But the Florida Department of Transportation is now giving more weight to the prospect of toll lanes along stretches of Interstate 75.Local DOT sec...
Updated one month ago
Florida man accused of smuggling knife inside shampoo at airport

Florida man accused of smuggling knife inside shampoo at airport

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The latest seizure at a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint may have left officials scratching their heads. The Charlotte Observer reports 72-year-old Gonzalo Gonzalez, of Jupiter, tried to board a flight Thursday at C...
Updated one month ago