Groundbreaking was held today for the newest improvement in Tampa's mass transportation. It's called Bus Rapid Transit, and it should mean a significant improvement in getting across town.
We won't be seeing any light rail in the foreseeable future, so Bus Rapid Transit will be the nearest thing commuters will see to a new way to traverse Tampa. "MetroRapid" will have fewer stops than regular buses, run every 15 minutes and be able to get automatic green lights at major intersections. Hillsborough Area Rapid Transit estimates the 17.5-mile ride between downtown Tampa and Fletcher Avenue and I-75 should be 15 percent quicker.
County Commissioner Sandy Murman is a member of HART's board of directors.
"We'll really send a message that riding the bus is a cool thing to do," Murman says. "And I think it just sends a message to our community that we are really solving our transportation issues."
Most of the $34 million cost will come from the Hillsborough County Community Investment Tax. Of that, $31 million went for design, land acquisition and construction; $1.75 million for the Fletcher Avenue park-and-ride facility; and $2 million for transit signal priority, which reduces time spent at red lights.
It's expected to open in the spring, and eventually connect with another MetroRapid line running east-to-west.