Monday, February 4, 2013

HART board praises idea for Westshore circulator system, but won't act on it

Posted By on Mon, Feb 4, 2013 at 11:17 AM

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Last year, the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) — in partnership with Westshore Alliance and HART — conducted a survey to explore the feasibility of a transit circulator service within the Westshore area, which is by far the densest business district in the region.

MPO's Randy Kranjec said that while the service could be vital in the future, it's not ready to be unveiled. He said there isn't much interest in the private sector, and there's no funding source at this time.

Hart board members expressed concern that the construction of what they call an intermodal center might conflict with a similar transit center being proposed on the site of Tampa International Airport, which is just one-and-a-half miles away.

The study was conducted last summer, with 265 people participating. Twenty percent of those surveyed said they might take public transit if it came more frequently, and 14 percent said they wanted more services within walking distances from offices, residences or hotels.

A circulator would best serve the Tampa International Airport, and the Westshore and International Plaza malls.

HART executive director Philip Hale said the study provides a lot of valuable data to move forward, "but not now." He said such a circulator system would need to be focused on business riders.

Although Kranjec said there wasn't much interest from the business community, HART's Fran Davin said Westshore officials were the ones who asked HART to initiate such a study because there have been complaints that it's impossible to park during lunch hour.

"They wanted to see about moving people from point A to point B," she said.

Two Pinellas County circulator systems are referenced in the report — the Jolley Trolley and The Looper.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman said one circulator that isn't working is the much derided Tampa Streetcar line, which runs from downtown Tampa through Channelside and into Ybor City. The line doesn't operate until 11 a.m. on weekdays and leaves every 15 minutes, making it difficult for downtown employees to go to Ybor for lunch and come back within an hour.

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