HART Focuses on the Future with High-Tech Initiatives, Ridership Strategies

Posted on May 7, 2018 by Janna Starcic - Also by this author - About the author

Like other agencies in the nation, HART has been implementing a mix of strategies and tactics that will effectively work together in the long term to boost ridership.
Like other agencies in the nation, HART has been implementing a mix of strategies and tactics that will effectively work together in the long term to boost ridership.

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, host of the 2018 APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference, is delving into many high-tech initiatives to improve service. Earlier this year, the transit agency, May Mobility, and the City of Tampa showcased autonomous vehicle technology on Downtown Tampa city streets. The driverless electric vehicle fleet traversed city streets and the Marion Transit Way corridor with passengers to demonstrate the technology in a real-world scenario. This roadway is the same area HART anticipates the deployment and future use of autonomous vehicles in the downtown business district.

Additionally, HART is nearing two years since it launched HyperLINK, a fully accessible first mile/last mile solution. The app-based, on-demand service operates within a three-mile radius of designated bus stops in selected zones.

Streamlining fare payment
HART’s most recent innovative initiative is its new regional e-fare and smart-card system, Flamingo Fares, which the agency is currently Beta testing with HART and Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority riders. The system is expected to officially launch to the public in September. “These cards and the app will hold pay-as-you-go value to make travel even more effortless than before,” said HART Interim CEO Jeff Seward.

Customers will be able to ride transit on one fare, reload and manage their accounts online, and save money with fare-capping. Fare-capping allows customers to pay only for the trips they take. If an individual purchases a single ride, the system still caps the price paid in a given period. So, if a single fare costs $2 and a daily pass costs $4, a customer can ride three or more rides in a day and still only pay $4. Weekly or monthly spending on fares would be capped in the same way. Customers will then be able to simply tap their smart card or scan their mobile ticketing smartphone app as they board to pay their fare.

Rethinking ridership
Like other agencies in the nation, HART has been implementing a mix of strategies and tactics that will effectively work together in the long term to boost ridership, explained Seward.

“These initiatives include the following but are not limited to, increasing frequency on bus routes, extending specific routes, developing a new and innovative electronic fare system, Flamingo Fares (mobile ticketing app and smartcard system), and real-time transit info app (OneBusAway Tampa),” Seward said.

Additionally, HART is building partnerships with other transit agencies and community stakeholders to improve public transit, both locally and nationally. HART is working on enhancing its transit network system — bus, van, streetcar, ride-share, upcoming autonomous vehicle, and additional options — by building upon the system redesign implemented through its network review, Mission MAX, in October 2017.

“HART firmly believes that by executing this blueprint we will convince people of the vast benefits the system provides every day,” explained Seward. “By creating a robust network of mobility options, these modes of transportation will help reduce car dependency and ensure the increased use of HART services, which will continue to function as the backbone of an integrated multimodal transportation system in Hillsborough County.” 

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