December 2, 2008 - Tampa, Florida - Another million-ride month and proposed improvements to bus service were on the list Monday for the monthly meeting of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Board of Directors.
As the Board welcomed its newest member, Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner, HART reported that its ridership increases continued through October. Local and Commuter Express service combined for 1,166,021 rides, the most ever for a single month, and the fourth million-ride month in a row.
"One million rides a month has become a standard now," commented HART CEO David Armijo.
HART reported that local ridership is up 9%; Commuter Express, 28.5%; HARTplus paratransit is up 12%; and the TECO Line Streetcar System grew 4% in October. The total ridership growth for all modes was 9.2%.
HART Board Chair Ron Govin, a member of the Temple Terrace City Council, noted that bus service in his city is growing dramatically.
"After three years on this Board, I'm heartened to see that Route 6 (which serves Temple Terrace) has the second-highest growth in the whole system," Councilmember Govin said.
Service Improvements Proposed
While ridership continues its steady growth, HART also reported that it is proposing enhancements to some of its busiest routes. Among the changes being considered are increasing frequency between downtown Tampa and the airport to 15 minutes from the current 30 minutes, and increasing weekend service on Route 1 (Florida Avenue), Route 6 (56th Street), Route 12 (22nd Street), Route 18 (30th Street) and Route 30 (Town 'N Country).
Mr. Armijo said that increases in the weekend service alone are projected to result in an additional 200,000 rides per year.
HART Board member Dr. Steven Polzin, a director with USF's Center for Urban Transportation Research, was pleased with this expansion of service.
"In my profession, I review transit systems from across the country," Dr. Polzin commented. "And it's amazing that at a time when many others are cutting service, HART is expanding."
Rail Project Moving Forward
Mr. Armijo informed the Board that discussions with the Federal Transit Administration on the Tampa Rail Project have continued, and that HART is moving forward with plans to re-enter the New Starts process for the project. Next steps in the rail plans include:
As HART continues to participate in the regional planning process, Mr. Armijo noted that the Tampa Rail Project could help to kick-start a regional rail system.
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