Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough's new MetroRapid bus system off to a slow start


At midday Tuesday, the 320-space park-and-ride lot north of Tampa was empty. For the first part of the trip downtown, a bus was, too.

Then ridership picked up once a MetroRapid bus left Fletcher Avenue and headed south along Nebraska Avenue.

But confusion set in.

On the debut day of Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority's newest service, riders quickly learned the new green-and-white buses don't stop where the normal ones do — no matter how much a passenger protests.

Financed through the county's Community Investment Tax, the roughly $25 million MetroRapid project is meant to better serve current riders and lure new ones to ditch their cars in favor of mass transportation.

For many, Tuesday was a learning experience.

"It's still the first day," said Sandra Pinto, HART spokeswoman. "People are still trying to figure out the whole new service."

Featuring 12 buses equipped with Transit Signal Priority, a GPS-based technology that extends green lights and shortens red lights, MetroRapid shaves 15 to 20 percent off normal bus route travel time, clocking it at about an hour for the entire route.

The route begins on the north end at a new park-and-ride lot at Hidden River Parkway near Fletcher Avenue and Telecom Parkway. Equipped with a shelter and ticket vending machine, the site was built to encourage commuters who live in North Tampa but work downtown to use the system.

HART expects riders to take about 800,000 trips on Metro­Rapid through the end of the fiscal year that ends in September. And the goal is to have 60 percent of riders be new mass transit customers within a year, as opposed to those who already use the transit system.

There's hope that the new park-and-ride lot will soon fill with those new riders.

"That is us experimenting with new territory," Pinto said. "It's still a new service that we have never provided before and people have to learn about it."

From there, the buses travel west on Fletcher to the more busy University Transit Center, and then head on a 45-minute ride south on Nebraska Avenue, ending downtown at the Marion Transit Center.

Along the way, MetroRapid buses pass a number of normal route stops, but slow down only for the 59 green-and-white shelters — a fact not every rider realized Tuesday.

Still, many who climbed aboard, even by accident, said they were glad to see a new service run through their neighborhood.

"I like it," said Robert Buchin, who lives along the route. "It's going to be a lot more convenient because it runs every 15 minutes and I'll use it to get to work and medical appointments."

The service is free through June 7. After that, a one-way ride will cost $2, the same as a normal fare.

Tanya Lisa, 57, lives downtown and had been hearing about MetroRapid for weeks. So on Tuesday, with nowhere specific in mind to go, she took a trip to Temple Terrace and back.

"I'm retired so I'll probably take the bus for quick stops to Walmart or the Salvation Army," Lisa said. "It's a straight shot, and it's very comfortable."

By the end of the day, some of the earlier confusion had died down as riders made the commute back home on MetroRapid.

"I know there's going to be a transition period because people are still trying to figure this route out," said Kim Carrington, who lives in Seminole Heights and works downtown at the Glazer Children's Museum. But in the end, it's worth it, she said.

"The stop is further from my house," she said, "but it's quicker."

Shelley Rossetter can be reached at or (813) 226-3401.

Hillsborough's new MetroRapid bus system off to a slow start 05/28/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 28, 2013 11:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. John Calipari: Kevin Knox makes you shake your head and say 'Wow'


    Even though former Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox left the USA Basketball U19 tryouts due to a hamstring injury, he still made quite an impression on coach John Calipari.

  2. Rick Scott appoints 'my friend,' Jimmy Patronis, as Florida CFO

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Monday appointed a long-time friend and political supporter, Jimmy Patronis, to replace Jeff Atwater as Florida's next chief financial officer, making him one of three members of the Cabinet that sets state policy on a wide range of issues. He'll take over Friday.

    Rick Scott appoints Jimmy Patronis (background) as CFO. [STEVE BOUSQUET | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. Romano: I think Uber is Latin for gouging (Or why I should apologize to cabs)

    Human Interest

    Let's talk about regulations.

    Specifically, let's talk about the battles we've seen locally, and nationally, that have pitted the taxi industry against ride share companies such as Uber.

    A woman walks past the Uber company logo in San Francisco, Calif., in this 2014 file photo. [AP photo]
  4. Salvador Dali's body to be exhumed for paternity test, Spanish judge orders

    Human Interest

    A judge in Madrid has ordered Spanish artist Salvador Dalí to be exhumed following a paternity suit.

    Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali, presents his first Chrono-Hologram in Paris, France, in 1973. A Spanish judge on Monday June 26, 2017, has ordered the remains of artist Salvador Dali to be exhumed following a paternity suit by a woman named by Europa Press agency as Pilar Abel, 61 from the nearby city of Girona. Dali, considered one of the fathers of surrealism in art, died in 1989 and is buried in his museum in the northeastern town of Figueres. [Associated Press]
  5. How good is Florida Gators' Jim McElwain? We're about to find out


    The Gators' offense comes down to how head coach Jim McElwain handles the quarterback battle between Zaire and redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks. [ANDRES LEIVA | Times]