HART to weigh carpool lanes, light-rail starter line

01/24/11 Kate Bradshaw
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As rush hour picks up throughout Tampa Bay, you may be wondering if there will ever be a fix for all the gridlock. Transportation officials met in Tampa today to talk about possible short term solutions to Tampa’s transit woes.

Being stuck in traffic is a fact of life almost everywhere, especially in the Tampa Bay area. Hillsborough County voters said no to a large-scale transit overhaul, but Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (or HART) officials are still looking at ways to ease traffic on area roads – and how to pay for them. Mary Shevalier, chief of planning and program development at HART, said potential projects include high occupancy vehicle – or carpool – lanes.

Shevalier said the agency is studying Hillsborough’s most clogged corridors.

She added that there’s potential for a light rail starter line, if the HART board were to approve the project.

She said the agency will tackle transit methods as well as the big question – money – at a retreat in early February.

HART CEO David Armijo said there’s already money available for projects like MetroRapid, an enhanced bus system that would operate between USF and Downtown Tampa by way of Fletcher and Nebraska.

He said the millions coming from the federal level are a little slow coming in.

Armijo added that federal dollars the agency has taken for granted if Congress cuts the spending that was so widely decried on the campaign trail last year.

Armijo said that while the poor economy has caused many people to oppose government spending, the dollars spent on local transit projects have actually created jobs. He said that could make the case for keeping federal grant money around.

The HART board will get down to specifics at a retreat that takes place February 7 at the Expressway Authority at 1104 East Twiggs Street in Downtown Tampa.

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Nice article. Although, it is MetroRapid, not Metra Rapid.

Sooner rather than later

Let's face it, folks . . . sooner or later we are going to have to embrace public transportation systems. We can not anticipate a viable future of more and more cars, increased pollution, jammed roadways, more parking lots, etc. etc. etc. We need to bite the bullet now and begin to implement multiple local and statewide public transport projects to get us where we will need to be in the future.

Sooner the better...

I agree with Thomas... not only statewide but nationwide!!!

Ride the Bus!

Let's face it? Does that mean the same thing as "you can't deny"? I don't agree. We already have public transportation. It's called the bus. Ride it and let the economy recover before you spend money we don't have.

Sorry Johnny!

Face it Johnny (you can't deny it), present day (and for the foreseeable immediate future) public transportation opportunities in Hillsborough County are inadequate to meet the needs of many county residents (ex. anyone living in outlying areas and/or living an active and busy schedule). Now, without wanting to sound mean, your suggestions of "let the economy recover" (whatever that might imply) and "before you spend money we don't have" (as if our state and local officials aren't continually wasting scarce and valuable public funds) are overly-simplistic, shortsighted, incapable of promoting any improvements or advances, and frankly moronic. I fear that you can not see the forests because the trees are in your way. Please understand my belief that the best way for your - and my - great grandchildren to be able to access clean, safe, efficient, economical and comprehensive transport that fits their productive and fulfilling lifestyles, is to begin now by actively developing solutions to the problems, rather than proverbially hiding our collective heads into the sands.

Buses are not enough.

Taking the bus is a good option. However rarely do they go straight to where you want to go. They also will not solve the traffic problem because. Obviously, they drive on the roads. The thing most appealing about rail is that you don't have to worry about traffic. With a bus you're factoring in the route it's taking PLUS traffic. Usually meaning to get where you want to go on time you have to leave up to 2 hours earlier than you would have otherwise.