Historically, northwest Hillsborough County, FL has been characterized as suburban or rural-suburban. These less-dense growth patterns present difficulties for providing transit services. The median income is 33% higher than the county average, and the vast majority of residents drive to work in Tampa. The majority of transit riders in the study area does not have access to a vehicle, and rely on transit to get to and from work. The transit agency is faced with a limited operating budget and no room to expand their current bus fleet.
Kittelson worked with the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization, in partnership with the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART), to identify near-term improvements to the transit system. The study focused on changes that improve service to existing transit riders; regional connectivity for transit customers wishing to travel to adjacent counties; and first-mile/last-mile connection to transit through the regional trail network and on-demand transit service in order to further enhance community livability in the area.
Improving Transit Service on a Budget
As a result of the study, the Kittelson team identified recommendations for:
- Service improvements to three high ridership routes, including a new route to connect the study area to the University of South Florida;
- An opportunity for HART to eliminate an underperforming route in place of on-demand transit service — allowing them to provide the same or better service for existing customers at a lower cost; and
- Enhanced connectivity between the trail and transit systems at eight locations in the study area through improving wayfinding, stop relocation, and additional pedestrian crossing opportunities.
Some of the recommendations from this study go into effect in 2018, while others have been added to HART’s needs plan and await funding.