By Tamas Mondovics
In harmony with its promise of shorter trip times, better connections and improved service, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) is poised to introduce its newest bus network this month.
Appropriately named, Mission MAX has been scheduled by HART officials to begin serving its customers on Sunday, October 8, promising to forever change the way the Tampa Bay region gets around.
Agency officials said that through Mission MAX, HART is modernizing the system to deliver more efficient service and higher frequencies on high-demand routes by means of aligning routes to provide shorter trip times and better connections, seven days a week.
The new network is also designed to lay a foundation for future expansion, officials said.
“The redesigned system includes route and schedule modifications based on an extensive period of research, operational considerations, and public input,” said HART Maintenance Manager Dale Smith.
HART CEO Katharine Eagan said that patrons wanted a service that fits the changing regional patterns of Tampa Bay and they wanted a transit system that gets them where they need to go with better connections and frequent service.
Eagan emphasized that Mission MAX transitions HART to more of a “grid” network that is focusing less on transfer centers, and more on direct, at-stop connections.
“Mission MAX creates a system that promotes public transit and connects more people to more places,” she said.
A key element of the new network—as it is explained by HART— is that while it may mean more transfers, with routes coming more frequently and schedules better entwined, riders should see overall quicker trips.
In a recent press release HART promised that improvements include a redesigned system, “…backed by route data analysis, including stop-by-stop ridership data, to maximize HART efficiency.”
The final plan means roughly 85 percent of customers will see service improve, HART officials said.
Residents can now use Google Maps to plan their (future) trip in three steps:
Step 1: Enter your origin and final destination as you currently do.
Step 2: Instead of “Leave now,” select “Depart at” from the drop down menu.
Step 3: Next, enter a date (beyond October 8, 2017).
An updated map and trip options reflective of Mission MAX will then be provided.
HART said that Mission MAX is just one piece of a plan toward as it continues to grow and evolve over the next decade.
For info, visit the Mission MAX FAQ, or interact with HART on Facebook and Twitter. For information visit www.gohart.org.