TAMPA — The regional transit agency that offers bus, trolley and streetcar service to Hillsborough County, is considering several pilot projects for the coming year to increase ridership and revenue.
Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) Interim Executive Director Katharine Eagan said each of the programs could put the agency in a better position to serve more people and eventually, expand its fleet.
HART is in discussions with some of Hillsborough County’s largest employers to determine how it can get more people to commute to work on the bus. Eagan said HART is discussing offering discounts on bus passes, which are subsidized by the federal government, to encourage ridership.
Hillsborough Community College sold $270,000 in monthly bus passes at its Ybor City, Dale Mabry and Brandon campuses in 2013, Eagan said. HART is considering creating a semester-long bus pass that students can purchase, which could save them a few bucks and put more bodies on HART buses.
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
Since 2010, HART has offered free rides to middle- and high school students during “spring break month,” through it’s Staycation program. The agency is in talks with the Hillsborough County school district to expand the free rides throughout the school year. If more than 50,000 students participate, HART would ask the district for a stipend to cover the cost.
The transit authority is considering creating one pass — a Smart Card — that bus riders could use traveling from Citrus, Polk, Pinellas or Pasco counties, said HART Spokeswoman Sandra Morrison. “It would be a regional fare card” good for a day, 10 days or a month, she said. HART is also considering whether to allow riders to purchase tickets online that could be printed, or scanned from their smart phones.