TAMPA — Bus riders in Hillsborough County will have new routes and timetables to adjust to starting Sunday.
The changes have been in the works for months as the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority continues to face budget challenges and limited funding — issues that have only been exacerbated during the coronavirus pandemic.
The new schedule is expect to better align with rider demand, improve safety and efficiency and save money.
Originally, the transit agency expected to cut about 10 percent of service, which would save about $4.3 million a year. But those numbers were adjusted during public outreach and further review. HART staff engaged with more than 1,300 passengers during the outreach, spokeswoman Carson Chambers said.
The agency now expects to save about $2.5 million a year with the new schedule. The changes include cutting eight regular and flex routes, reducing frequency on five routes and adjusting the stops and directions of 16 others. They represent about a 3 percent service cut, including reducing total revenue hours for bus service by close to 15,000 hours.
New service will also be added connecting downtown Tampa with the airport along Cypress Street and running a one-way loop northwest of the University of South Florida around Sinclair Hills Road, Bearss Avenue and Fletcher Avenue.
“The changes are based on extensive planning and public outreach,” Chambers said. “Restoring (those two routes) are responsive changes based on direct feedback from many living in these communities who asked for more choices.”
Hillsborough’s transit authority is one of the most underfunded transit agencies in the nation for an area of its size. Officials had hoped a transportation sales tax passed in 2018 would bring much needed revenue to the bus agency, but the money remains unspent while the tax is held up in a two-year legal battle.
Florida Supreme Court justices will need to determine whether or not the referendum violates the state’s constitution. If the tax is upheld, the transit authority would see 45 percent of the revenue, or more than $100 million a year.
Bus riders can visit www.goHART.org to view updated maps, schedules and a summary of the service changes. Customers with questions can call customer service at 813-254-4278.
HART bus route changes starting Sunday
Routes with new stops, directions and alignments: 5, 7, 8, 9, 14, 16, 30, 33, 38, 42, 45, 48, 275LX, 360LX
Routes with reduced frequencies: 6, 24LX, 33, 34, 46
New routes: 10 (Cypress St.) and 44 (Sinclair Hills Connector)
Cut routes: 20X, 35 (merged with 30), 60LX, 75LX, HARTFlex Brandon/HARTFlex Northdale/HARTFlex South Tampa/HARTFlex Town ‘N Country
Routes with stop changes: Routes 14 and 34 stops are being reduced to improve on-time performance, travel time, and safety
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Routes with minor schedule changes: 1, 17, 19, 25LX, 31, 36, 37, 400 (MetroRapid)
Routes with no changes: 12, 15, 32, 39, HARTFlex South County, TECO Line Streetcar