Our regional public transit service, the Hillsborough Regional Transit Authority (HART) has been studying the feasibility of expanding public transit services in the area, comparing two different transit technologies: bus rapid transit and light rail. HART planners have been engaged in analysis and a public input process to consider several proposed alignments that could possibly become a northeast corridor connecting downtown Tampa to the New North service area. Alignments under consideration include Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Fletcher Avenue, Fowler Avenue, and Busch Blvd. The alternatives are compared using 24 screening criteria. The Federal Transit Administration is considering the possibility of granting New Starts funds to the Tampa Bay area for implementing the system. But first, it must be demonstrated that such a system has a high chance of success.

The NNTA Board has heard several presentations from HART regarding the progress of the Alternatives Analysis. Visit the HART Alternatives Analysis website for details.

HART and Hillsborough County are hosting a series of public meetings for input on transportation projects recommended for funding by the Transportation Task Force. The projects include transit and non-transit initiatives, such as light rail, bus service expansion, roadways, intersections and supporting projects. The meeting nearest the New North service area will be held Thursday, February 18, 2010 – 5:30 pm at Freedom High School (Cafeteria), 17410 Commerce Park Boulevard, Tampa.

In addition, a public hearing before the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners will be held March 3rd on the subject of putting a transportation referendum on the November 2010 ballot. Such a referendum is proposed to contain the recommendation by the Transportation Task Force for a 1 percent transportation sales surtax, 75 percent of which would go toward public transit improvements, and 25 percent of which would be allocated to highway-related transportation improvements.

In October 2009, the NNTA Board voted to endorse the placement of a transportation referendum on the ballot for Hillsborough voters to decide. On March 3rd, NNTA Vice Chair, Thomas Locke, General Manager of the University Mall, will speak at the public meeting on behalf of NNTA, endorsing the referendum in support of funding for public transit.