1. Opinion

Editorial: Failure to invest in transit means fewer HART routes

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit is cutting bus routes from 41 to 34. Those in more rural areas will find it harder to catch a bus.
Published Jun. 23, 2017

It was simple economics that forced HART, Hillsborough County's mass transit agency, to cut its bus routes. The agency will focus its resources on the more crowded urban core, limiting service in the suburbs in an effort to get more bang for the buck. These are the hard choices communities must make when they refuse to invest in mass transit. And it's another red flag in any measure of the region's competitiveness, economy and quality of life.

Officials with Hillsborough Area Regional Transit gave the proposal its first public airing this week. HART is cutting the number of bus routes to 34 from 41, seeking to better serve the areas of highest demand against a backdrop of limited resources. Officials say about 80 percent of riders should enjoy improved service, with more frequent stops and more direct routes. But those in less populated areas, such as Ruskin and Sun City Center in south county, will have a harder time catching a bus when the changes take effect in October. Routes with low ridership might disappear entirely.

This strategy makes sense, but it's still a disappointment. Those in fast-growing south and east county will become more car-dependent. That will worsen traffic congestion, limit people's mobility and job prospects and add to the costs of maintaining a household. And without a strong presence, HART will have a hard expanding its political support outside its urban base.

This is what happens in a county that spends about the same per person on transit as Sheboygan, Wis. And unlike many communities of its size, Hillsborough depends almost entirely on property taxes to operate its buses, compared to other major metropolitan areas that can tap into sales taxes and other dedicated revenue sources.

HART will hold more public meetings on its proposed routes in the coming weeks. But it is taking the most responsible tack in managing service with an eye on maximizing expenses. This is the latest example of the costs to this community of not investing in more efficient transit options for the future.


 CLAY BENNETT  |  Chattanooga Times Free Press
  2. A view of the downtown St. Petersburg skyline and waterfront from over Tampa Bay.
    The news that the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation wants to change its name to include “Tampa Bay” has been met with resistance.
  3. Catherine Rampell, Washington Post columnist.
    Allegations of political cowardice can seem rich coming from candidates unwilling to acknowledge the obvious truths about things such as higher taxes. | Catherine Rampell
  4. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, former Vice President Joe Biden, center, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., raise their hands to speak during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) JOHN MINCHILLO  |  AP
    Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
  5. Yesterday• Opinion
    Letters to the Editor Graphic TARA MCCARTY  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Saturday’s letters to the editor
  6. Boats docked at Central Marine in Stuart are surrounded by blue green algae in June 2016. [The Palm Beach Post]
    The Legislature should step up and stop pollution at its source, write Howard Simon and John Cassani.
  7. It’s not easy for case managers or police to deal with violent, uncooperative teens, the columnists write.
  8. Brian Dean REBECCA ADLER ROTENBERG  |  File photo
    Let’s make our standards better, not throw them out, says a math specialist.
  9. Traffic backs up between the Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge and Clearwater Beach. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Carbon dioxide emissions are up by more than half in just 30 years. Where is our mass transit?
  10. Eugene Robinson
    Impeachment is no longer optional. | Eugene Robinson