By Tamas Mondovics

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) CEO Katharine Eagan stood in front of a huge crowd of community leaders, local government officials, area residents and members of the media, who gathered at the USF CALMS in downtown Tampa with one goal in mind; to ensure all that the future of transit in Tampa Bay is in good hands.

“We are building not just for tomorrow, but rather for the future,” Eagan said adding, “That’s the vision. You can take advantage of all the things that make Tampa Bay amazing and you know you can get there quickly because your partner has you covered.”

It took no time to see the picture HART prepared for all to see during its State of Transit update event as besides Eagan, the impressive list of speakers, including HART Chairman and Tampa City Councilman Mike Suarez, Senator Jeff Brandes, Tampa Bay Community Leader, Channelside Developer and Tampa Bay Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik, each took their turn.

Community partnership, innovation, use of technology as well as acting without delay while investing in a regional study was all on the roster to convince all present that HART has what it takes to add to Hillsborough County’s economic success.

Suarez spoke about a partnership with Yellow Cab Company of Tampa, Megabus and RedCoach, to name just a few when he said, “Those kind of smart transit choices that we have made as a board that we keep reaching out to people make HART, I think one of the key agencies across the state. Its about freedom to choose and have the opportunity to go anywhere.”

“Revolutionizing transportation as we know it,” was Brandes’ message while trying to impress his audience, adding that he does not think of transportation anymore as a system but as an organism. “We are living in the most exciting times since the pioneers of the model T,” Brandes said, adding that enhancing the future of transportation and the future of transit has four key elements; electric, autonomous, on demand and shared.

Focusing on regional studies, Eagan introduced the HART HyperLINK, resolving the first-mile last mile issue, which she said will provide access to a reservation call center and a smartphone app for customers to bring real-time ride-sharing technology to Hillsborough transit riders.

“There is no doubt we are dominating this game,” she said. “We have no shortage of innovation and imagination, but we are facing space constraints. Putting more buses on the streets will not solve transit problems.” Visit www.gohart.org.