Hart unveils Town 'N Country transfer station listen07/29/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Although oil prices have been tumbling in recent weeks, $4 a gallon gas prices may have done what seemed impossible in the Tampa Bay Area â€“ led more people to take the bus.
Ridership on Pinellas County buses is up 9 percent this year, and up 7 percent in Hillsborough County. In fact, business on Hart's express service is up 29 percent over last year.
On Tuesday, local officials and community members in the Town 'N Country area in Northwest Hillsborough County celebrated the grand opening of a Transfer Center for Hillsborough Area Buses.
Hart CEO David Armijo began the short ceremony, as city and county officials squeezed underneath a canopy with community members under a steady rainfall.
The new transfer station is the third Hart has constructed in the last 14 months â€“ the others are at NetPark in East Tampa, and the West Tampa station near Raymond James Stadium.
The total cost of the new facility is $4.7 million, with $3.68 million coming from a federal grant, and $472,000 from the state.
Hillsborough County Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor spoke briefly before calling up Town 'N Country citizens to join her on stage in celebration. Other public officials at the event included County Commissioners Rose Ferlita and Mark Sharpe.
Bill Brown, chairman of the Town 'N Country Alliance, said it will be a boost not only to those who use Hart buses, but it will also better the local community in general. Brown said that this new facility should only enhance ridership.
Armijo says the next transfer station will be built at the Tampa Airport , hopefully within the next couple of years.