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HART’s ridership at record high; PSTA’s second highest

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Published:   |   Updated: November 11, 2013 at 10:03 PM

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TAMPA — HART reported all-time record ridership in October with nearly 1.4 million passenger trips, a 1.8 percent increase over the previous record set in October 2012, the Hillsborough County transit system said Monday.

PSTA reported its second highest ridership total in October with nearly 1.3 million rides, just 9,250 short of the Pinellas County transit system’s all-time high in October 2012. While regular routes posted ridership increases last month, the temporary closing for a movie shoot in Clearwater resulted in a shortfall of normal shuttle passenger, affecting the monthly total.

Both transit companies have enjoyed ridership surges that began when gas prices started to rise steeply late last decade and have maintained growth despite the decline in motorists’ fuel prices.

Monthly bus passes are still cheaper than the average fill-up and transit riders enjoy the stress relief of not having to drive on crowded roads, PSTA external affairs officer Bob Lasher said.

Pinellas officials are finalizing the Greenlight Pinellas Plan, which would substitute a 1 percent sales tax for a three-quarters mill property tax assessment to raise funds to expand bus service by 65 percent and launch a light rail system between St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

Hillsborough County voters rejected a sales tax increase in 2010 that would have created light rail and enhanced bus service among other goals, but bus ridership continues to grow, despite funding levels lower than planners desire.

“The ultimate endorsement of our service is that so many people choose to ride with us,” said HART Chief Executive Officer Philip Hale.”We are pleased that more people are taking advantage of the affordable cost and convenience of our service.”

HART continues to evaluate its routes to maximize its services.

Service changes to take effect Nov. 17 are:

* New late night service, with routes 2, 6 and 30 running until midnight on Saturday and Sunday.

* New weekend service with routes 14 and 57 operating on Saturday.

* Route 37 will operate on Sunday.

* Schedule improvements, with earlier service on Route 2 weekdays. Route 6 will run more frequently midday during the week. Route 5 service will be extended by two hours on weekends and until midnight on weekdays.

* The last weekday trips on Route 2, 6 and 12 will end at Marion Transit Center. * Route 4 and 47 LX will have small schedule adjustments.

HART also is scheduling community meetings on proposed service changes to Route 46 between Davis Islands and Brandon planned for March 2014. Meetings are scheduled from 4;30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Sandra Freedman Complex, 59 Columbia Drive; Wednesday at the Brandon Chamber of Commerce at 300 Pauls Drive, No. 100; and Thursday at the Tampa Municipal Office building, second floor conference room, at 306 E. Jackson St.

tjackovics@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7817

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