TAMPA — Students are taking to the transit concept, buying summer bus passes by the thousands.
The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, or HART, sold 30,030 summer bus passes in May and June, a 47 percent increase over last year, when the transit system sold 20,400 passes during the same period, said HART spokeswoman Sandra Morrison.
Beginning July 14, riders age 5 to 17 can get a Summer Blast Pass for half price at $15 and use it for unlimited bus rides through Aug. 31.
This is the ninth year HART has offered the discounted summer pass for young riders on HART local bus routes, promoting it as an economical way to reach summer jobs, the mall and other favorite haunts.
The passes are not valid for use on HARTPlus or the TECO Line Streetcar System and users 12 and younger must be accompanied by an adult.
“We’ve been working really hard to get the word out with fliers on buses and this year, we are trying to reach out more to the younger generation and educate them about riding the bus,” Morrison said.
That initiative has taken HART employees to summer camps throughout the county where they are teaching students about public transit and its benefits, she said.
The Summer Blast Pass can be purchased at four locations: Marion Transit Center, 1211 N. Marion St., Tampa, Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; at HART on Franklin, 403 N. Franklin St., Tampa, Monday through Friday only, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; HART Ybor Office, 1201 E. Seventh Ave., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and at University Area Transit Center, 13110 N. 27th St., Tampa, Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 7 p.m. to 5 p.m.
HART also has a transit trip planner riders, including students, can use to plan out their route. And the OneBusAway Tampa smart phone app lets riders determine when the next bus will arrive at their stop. The free application is available on a number of devices, including desktop computers, iPads and other tablets and smart phones.