HART proposes new routes to serve USF, downtown Tampa

There may be a couple of new bus routes coming to the Tampa area. The newly-proposed routes from HART would help give residents, visitors, and workers more options to get around.

HART is proposing two new circulator bus routes that will cover about three miles of downtown and three miles of uptown, the area near the University of South Florida.

The new route downtown is aimed at fulfilling a demand that used to be covered by the Tampa Downtowner, which was an on-demand service providing 700,000 rides for about five years. It ran out of funding and service was halted in 2021.

Then the bus circulator near USF's Tampa campus will help people get to work, school, and medical centers, for example. That area has the highest percentage of "zero-car" households in Hillsborough County.

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All of this was proposed at a HART board of directors meeting on Monday.

"Most of the cost will be covered by these funding partners, the Sierras, and ESP. We have two different conceptual routes right now, so one on the Southern District of downtown and the other on Ashland. Same thing here. You know, really, it's an opportunity for us to grow without adding any additional expenses on the HART side," said Omar Alvarado, the Chief Delivery Officer for HART.

Changes are also being proposed for some of HART’s fixed routes to match up better with peak hours. That means some routes will be taken away, but new ones will be added.

The HART Authority says it is making changes while sticking to a tight budget, by working with community partners on additional financial resources.

If the proposals are approved, they will be implemented in February 2023.