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Hillsborough transit agency seeks feedback on bus route cuts

TAMPA — Hillsborough's transit authority is seeking feedback from bus riders as it looks at redesigning its system this fall and cutting nearly 20 percent of its routes.

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority will hold the first of 18 public meetings on the new routes at 10 a.m. Monday at the Hillsborough Community College Southshore Campus. The month-long outreach process will culminate at a July 26 public hearing.

HART aims to roll out the 34 new bus routes — down from the existing 41 — in October.

The reboot is financially driven, as HART struggles to provide service for a county the size of Rhode Island with one of the smallest operating budgets in the nation. A Tampa Bay Times analysis earlier this year found the region had one of the worst transit systems in America, with HART receiving significantly less money than its counterparts in other cities.

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Hillsborough transit agency braces for overhaul of bus network, route cuts

The draft of the new system shows that some of the routes will be new, some will stay the same and others will be truncated, altered or combined. Bus riders can learn more about what will happen to their routes at the meetings, and weigh in on the changes. The proposed new system is not set in stone, HART CEO Katharine Eagan said, and still has to be approved by the HART Board of Directors at their August meeting.

While the number of routes is shrinking, Eagan said overall service should improve for about 80 percent of people. The agency is increasing the frequency along many routes and also is straightening out some of the paths, so they're less winding and circuitous. The changes should reduce travel time for most riders and make the system more reliable.

Contact Caitlin Johnston at cjohnston@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8779. Follow @cljohnst.

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