PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Tampa breaks ground on first bus rapid transit line

Riders could see travel times reduced by 15 percent

August 07, 2012

Tampa, Fla., city officials broke ground Monday for a new bus rapid transit line expected to open in spring 2013. The new line is part of the growing MetroRapid system, the city’s first BRT service.

Hillsborough Area Rapid Transit (HART) will oversee the project, which will connect downtown Tampa with Fletcher Avenue and I-75. The agency estimates that bus rapid transit will shorten the travel time of the 17.5-mile route by approximately 15 percent.

BRT would act as a viable public transit alternative to high-speed rail, a plan for which was vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2011.

Funding for the project will largely come from the Hillsborough County Community Investment Tax. Monetary breakdown includes $31 million for design, land acquisition and construction; $1.75 million for a park-and-ride facility on Fletcher Avenue; and $2 million for transit signal priority, which allows buses to automatically get green lights at major intersections.

The north-south route will ultimately join up with an east-west line that includes Tampa International Airport and the Westshore Business District.

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