By Tamas Mondovics

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART), Hillsborough County Public Schools, and Hillsborough County has joined forces to help area students get around town a bit easier this spring.

From March 1 through June 10, by providing their school ID, middle and high school students 18 and younger will be able to ride HART busses, including HART Local, Limited Express, MetroRapid or In-Towner bus, as well as HARTFlex services for free.

The new free bus ride program for school students-initiative was brought forward to the Board Of County Commissioners earlier this month by County Commissioner Kevin Beckner at the County Commission Boardroom at County Center.

HART’s power point presentation emphasized that in the last six years HART has provided a total of 347,620 trips to this age group on which the program is focusing.

The discussion resulted in the approval of the project as well as the allocation of $10,000 toward promotion and advertising of the pilot project, including multi-channel communication efforts, such as district and school websites, social media, school site promotions, to name a few.

“During the program the students will ride free and all they have to do is just show their school ID,” said HART CEO Katharine Eagan. “You will never have to wonder how your child is getting to and from their activity.”

While the free bus pass program ends in June, school board members are working with HART to expand the free ride program for students into the summer months.

According to HART officials, the agency’s long term goals include increased ridership, expanding bus routes near area schools, increased transportations for students with extra curricular activities.

In a recent release HART revealed the results of the agency’s first customer satisfaction survey as part of its “Voice of the Customer Scorecard” initiative, which was designed to gather data understand its customers’ opinions of existing service and areas of priority that need improvement.

“The customer satisfaction survey results are driving the agency’s understanding of what really matters to customers, enabling us to better respond to their needs and demands,” said HART Chief Financial Officer Jeff Seward.

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