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HART plans to add campus buses

Students may see more transit buses and decreased wait times at bus stops on campus.

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) discussed the Alternatives Analysis project, which is aimed to help transportation, at a public meeting Thursday.

If the project is approved by the Board of County Commissioners, HART would receive funding for 300 new buses. The addition of these buses would decrease the amount of time between bus arrivals by 10 minutes, said Philip Hale, chief of Maintenance and Engineering at HART.

Funding would come from both federal dollars and a possible 1 percent raise in sales tax by the county, Hale said. However, the project will not be completed unless the proposed tax is passed.

Residents will vote on the tax referendum in November 2010. Chief of Planning and Program Development at HART Mary Shavalier said the specific cost of the project could not be given at this time.

HART, which has four bus routes on USF’s campus, has 200 buses to cover 1,100 square miles of the county, Hale said.

“The reason we have 200 (buses) and not 500 is because of funding,” Hale said.

HART conducted a 2009 Study Area to evaluate the need for more transit buses and routes. USF falls within the planned boundaries for more buses, which extends from Bearss Avenue to downtown Tampa.

Aarian Johnson, a sophomore majoring in mass communications, said HART should add more buses, but that the tax increase would put pressure on residents – including students.

“I think they can probably find another way to fund other than increasing our tax,” Johnson said.

Nearly every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, Johnson says he waits for a HART bus to arrive at his stop on 40th Street.

A bus comes every 30 minutes, he said. Sometimes the bus will be 10 minutes late, but he said it usually takes about 15 minutes to get to campus.

USF students receive free HART bus rides, and that service would not change under the new plan, Shavalier said.

“For students more transit is better – you wouldn’t have to drive,” Shavalier said. “We’re trying to find more transit for better service.”

HART connects students to campus through the University Area Transit Center off of 27th Street, where students switch buses depending on the routes.

However, sometimes people are on a route and don’t want to transfer, Shavalier said. This is a reason HART wants to offer another way to USF’s campus, she said.

The project aims to alleviate congestion and parking problems on campus, Shavalier said. If approved, HART estimates that the project will be completed
by 2018.

“It gives students another option to get to USF,” Shavalier said. “I think it’s really going to help the community.”