Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) unveiled new service enhancements that took effect in February. These changes increase frequency on key routes, reduce wait times and provide faster connections for its customers.

Riders traveling to MacDill Air Force Base will enjoy additional express bus service.

Many changes were the direct result of passenger feedback and a comprehensive study and are part of a 10-year transit development plan (TDP) first implemented in October 2017, named Mission MAX, to improve public transportation in Hillsborough County.

“One of our primary goals is to ensure flexibility for riders that rely on our service,” said Jeff Seward, HART interim Chief Executive Officer.

HART rider Dustin Lemke, associate dean at Hillsborough Community College’s Dale Mabry campus, has been using public transportation for almost eight years and said the changes have cut his commute time from 55 minutes to 35 minutes. Three or four times a week he travels from his home in Tampa Heights to the college campus.

“Riding the bus began as a challenge for me just to see if I could do it and it has paid off in so many ways,” he said.

Without a hefty car payment, Lemke was able to open an individual retirement account, which he makes monthly contributions. The year he began riding the bus, the BP oil spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. “I felt like I was doing my part to help the environment,” said Lemke.

HART is also doing its part by transitioning its fleet from diesel fuel to compressed natural gas that contains significantly less pollutants than traditional types of fuels.

Lemke also makes good use of his free time while on the bus to enrich his mind. While riding the bus he read Moby Dick for the first time, something he wouldn’t have been able to do behind the wheel of a car.

Seward said he hopes the changes they’ve made will encourage more citizens to leave their cars in their garage in favor of public transportation.

“We’re here to serve the citizens of Hillsborough County and the enhancements through Mission MAX have provided HART with a solid foundation of high-quality bus service that we can build on as our community grows,” said Seward.

For more information about HART’s new route schedules visit www.gohart.org or call 254-HART to speak with a customer service representative.

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Michelle Caceres
MIchelle Caceres has been writing for the Osprey Observer for seventeen years. She enjoys writing human interest pieces about inspiring members of the community who are working to better our community. She lives in FishHawk Ranch with her husband and recently became an empty-nester. When not writing, Michelle is serving her church community, reading and enjoying Florida's weather.