By Tamas Mondovics
In its continued commitment to add new programs, additional services as well as to assist residents to get around, HART (Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority) is pleased to post a steadily increased ridership throughout the county.
“People turn to public transportation to save significant amounts of money,” said HART Public Information Officer, Sandra Morrison, adding that HART is committed to helping people take advantage of the many services offered to them including new programs that make using public transportation even more convenient.
Morrison explained that HART ridership has increased by nearly three percent compared to the same time last year, and 1.1 million trips were recorded by HART in June alone, while the agency is on track for exceeding its annual target for ridership with approximately 14.5 million riders this year.
“This means the fourth straight annual ridership record for HART,” she said. “This is not surprising though, because people who are tired of wasting their hard-earned money on gas, toll charges, parking fees and automotive maintenance can ride the bus as a highly affordable and convenient alternative.”
The national average for monthly unreserved parking in American cities is reported to be more than $166. Morison emphasized that according to the 2012 Colliers International Parking Rate Study, parking alone may cost consumers close to $2,000 per year.
In promoting the use of public transportation, HART offers special fare packages, which allow riders to commute all month long for roughly the price of a single tank of gas, not to mention its Flex service that provides “door to door” to shopping centers and hospital entrances, along with flexibility in choosing trip times.
HART’s the newest service is the agency’s Free “OneBusAway Tampa” a much-anticipated new digital app for mobile devices with web browsers, smart phones, and computers, scheduled to be launched the week of August 18.
“OneBusAway Tampa app delivers up-to-the-minute details to transit riders, using GPS technology to tell them exactly where their bus is and if it is running on time,” Morrison said.
Sheryl Laxson, who has used HART for many years as her main source of transportation, volunteered to help test the app during the pilot program phase.
“The link that I was given to download OneBusAway worked great,” Laxson said. “I also was able to go to Google Play on my tablet and easily found and downloaded the app for that device”.
The app was especially useful during recent thunderstorms, because the bus was delayed. “The app takes some of the guesswork out of situations where the bus may be stuck in traffic, there’s a detour or is just running a little late,” Laxson said.
Economists expect gas prices to continue this upward trend for the foreseeable future. Gas and oil futures contract prices already surged more than 10 percent on world markets during the past few weeks.
To see the kind of potential savings that can be generated by riding the bus, visit www.publictransportation.org and use the convenient free tools and calculators.
Go to www.goHART.org for maps, fares, and schedules.