HART proposes bus rapid transit line listen01/27/09 SeÃ¡n Kinane
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Light and commuter rail will be part of a regional transit solution for the Tampa Bay region, but so will expanded bus service, especially bus rapid transit (BRT).
City and county officials and community leaders met at the offices of HART, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority today.
Chad Luedtke is vice president of HDR engineering, a consulting group hired by HART for the BRT project. Leudtke says construction of bus stops along the proposed north-south route would begin in 2010 and the BRT route would open in mid 2011. It would connect the USF area to downtown, primarily along Fletcher and Nebraska avenues.
Ed Crawford, HARTâ€™s chief of public relations and government affairs, says the proposed north-south BRT line was funded by Hillsborough County and will cost $34 million. That figure will include upgrades like signal prioritization, also known as transit signal priority, which will give buses priority at traffic lights.
This specific north-south corridor was chosen, Crawford says, because of numbers; HARTâ€™s Route #2, which is similar to the proposed BRT line, carries 1.2 million passengers per year, according to Crawford.
Last June, during a board meeting of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA), Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio interrupted a presentation by HART CEO David Armijo to challenge his definition of BRT. Iorio contended that Armijo was not describing Bus Rapid Transit because it did not involve lanes dedicated only to buses. WMNF asked Crawford why HART is calling this north-south route BRT when there are no dedicated bus lanes.
Crawford says BRT buses could include amenities designed to increase ridership such as wireless internet hot spots.
One of the working group participants, Leonard Plotkin, who is legally blind, is on the transportation disadvantaged coordinating board for Hillsborough County and is looking forward to the opening of the BRT route.
The next BRT working group meeting will be in mid-March and there will be a final public meeting in April.