Bus Toll Lanes in Hillsborough County's future?

Waggoner presented three different scenarios under which such a plan could be created, and said all of them provided positive results. A bulk of his presentation featured a lot of dollar figures; so many, that at times it was difficult to follow along. HART board members became confused after Waggoner said that the dollar amounts on the handout he presented to them differed from the ones listed on the PowerPoint presentation he delivered. He said the biggest issue in creating toll lanes is the required up-front capital costs.

Waggoner said bus toll lanes offer the citizen three different choices: riding a bus that has its own managed lane, driving in a managed lane at a faster clip than the rest of traffic (for a toll price), or continuing to drive in the regular lanes already assembled on a highway.

"It's an opportunity for us to help the department, but more critically, it's an opportunity for us to make an investment and provide two new choices to our customers," Waggoner told board members.

In addition to Orlando, the DOT is also working on a toll lane project along I-595 in South Florida.

HART board member Dr. Steven Polzin called a such a plan "logical," adding that it "makes loads of sense." However, he cautioned about the complexity of the funding sources. He also wondered whether the federal government would be willing to participate in such a concept in the Tampa Bay area since it's currently only funding transit projects that aid peak commuting periods, which are generally in the early mornings and late afternoons.

Last month the Florida Department of Transportation announced a $2 billion public-private project that will add toll lanes to a 21-mile section of I-4 that runs through downtown Orlando.

Such lanes seem to be the wave of the future as cities try to reduce congestion and help pay for transportation needs. This morning at the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority's (HART) monthly board meeting, a presentation of a soon-to-be released study of potential toll lanes was presented by Joe Waggoner, the head of the Tampa Expressway Authority.

Both agencies worked on the Proof-of-Concept Study, which was paid for by the state and federal government. Waggoner said the Bus Toll Lanes study looks at the concept of such a system — not a specific project — that would hypothetically last for 30 years (2016-2045).

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