Hillsborough County's new MetroRapid line gets a grand opening ceremony

The ceremony took place at the new Park-n-Ride Station located off Hidden River Road.

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.

  • Inside the tent: Congresswoman Kathy Castor at Monday's grand opening of HART's MetroRapid N-S line.

After a two-week soft opening that included free rides, regular fares began on Monday for HART's new North-South MetroRapid line.

The 17.5 mile route runs north on Nebraska Avenue from downtown Tampa and then east along Fletcher Avenue to the new Park-and-Ride facility off Hidden River Road near I-75 — the site of Monday morning's official ribbon cutting.

"This is the first rapid transit bus system in the state of Florida. We are the first to offer this service, and we are proud of it," said HART chair Fran Davin. Davin kicked off the ceremony shortly after 9 a.m. on Monday morning in front of dozens of attendees ranging from PSTA chair Jeff Danner to transit aficionado Ed Turanchik to HART employees and board members.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles
Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected]