MetroRapid is able to move faster than standard local routes, but only because it has limited stops. The special stops are identifiable by green and silver shelters that were constructed in recent months. HART officials said the stops were chosen based on their high patronage in boardings and drop-offs, and that they will "constantly evaluate" stops for effectiveness and potential relocation.
There is a traffic signal priority system at various locations that can either keep a green light green or request it change from red to green, but there are no specific managed lanes for the bus only.
Congresswoman Kathy Castor praised the HART staff at the ceremony, "Often times you don't get a lot of credit," she said, which is certainly an understatement as the transit agency has been the recipient of a lack of respect for years in the Bay area. "We're here today to celebrate what you've done. You're very forward thinking. This is the most modern bus rapid transit that I know of in the state of Florida."
Castor also said that Washington played a part, as $5 million of federal funds were allocated to purchase the MetroRapid buses. Hillsborough County Community Investment Tax funds are paying for all phases of the MetroRapid project: $31 million for design, land acquisition and construction; $1.75 million for the Park-n-Ride station; and $2 million for traffic signal equipment.
"As result of the efficiencies and smart planning, HART was able to return nearly $8.8 million back to Hillsborough County, " said Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan, who added that the unexpected refund allowed the county to balance last year's budget.
HART officials would like to implement an east-west MetroRapid line, but there isn't enough money in their current budget to begin working on that system.