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Wednesday, Aug 23, 2017
Transportation

Hillsborough wants public’s ideas for spending tax increase on transit

Bus commuters could be getting increased express service and more park-and-ride lots if Hillsborough County’s transit system gets a large infusion of cash from a proposed half-cent sales tax.

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority has arranged for a series of open house meetings beginning July 23 to get public input on its Transit Development Plan Update, which reflects that possible surge of new money. The agency is required by the Florida Department of Transportation to update the 10-year plan annually.

HART officials attended all 36 Go Hillsborough meetings between February and May at which the public provided input on how to solve the gridlock on the county’s roadways. The Go Hillsborough transportation committee, made up of all seven county commissioners and the mayors of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City, recently agreed that if a half-cent sales tax is approved by voters, HART will get a quarter of the revenue, or $30 million a year. The committee is expected to decide Thursday when the measure will appear on the ballot.

The HART board will get its first look at the transit plan update Monday during its regular meeting, ahead of the public open houses.

“These meetings we are planning are an opportunity for HART to go out to the public as part of its annual update process and ask the question, ‘Have we heard you right?’ ” said Marco Sandusky, senior manager of equal employment opportunities and community programs for HART.

One of the key upgrades to the plan would be adding express service and park-and-ride lots, Sandusky said. Of the seven lots the update proposes, five would be new. Express service, which now is limited, could expand considerably, he said. “We’d probably have eight buses in the morning and eight in the afternoon. They’d be running a lot more frequently.”

New local routes and increased MetroRapid Service, which has only limited stops, also are part of the plan, Sandusky said.

The first public open house will be from 5 to 7 p.m. July 23 at the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce, 330 Pauls Drive, Brandon.

Those who can’t attend a meeting can send an email to greenk@goHART.org or call (813) 563-8707.

The other meetings will be:

5-7 p.m. July 28 at Ragan Park Community Center, 1200 E. Lake Ave., Tampa;

5-7 p.m. July 30, Cordelia B. Hunt Community Center, 4810 Himes Ave., Tampa;

9 a.m.-noon Aug. 3, Greater Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce, Bank of America building, 9385 N. 56th St., Temple Terrace;

5-7 p.m. Aug. 4, Town ’N Country Regional Public Library, 7606 Paula Drive, No. 120, Tampa;

11 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 5, Mayor’s Food Truck Fiesta, Lykes Gaslight Square, Tampa;

5-7 p.m. Aug. 11, New Tampa Community Center, 17302 Commerce Park Blvd., Tampa;

3-6 p.m. Aug. 13, University Area Transit Center, 13110 N. 27th St., Tampa;

And 4-7 p.m. Aug. 27, South Shore Regional Service Center, 410 30th St. SE, Ruskin;

11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 4-6, Tampa Home Show, Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301 N., Tampa.

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