Construction of the HART MetroRapid line is nearly finished!
During the past several weeks, HART has been working hard to install shelters at each of the MetroRapid stops, testing out its new, sleek, green and white buses, and making final preparations for the line’s opening (such as landscaping and lighting at the stations).
On Tuesday, May 28, 2013, HART will be opening the line to the public and offer fare-free rides for a two week period to help entice ridership and work out last-minute kinks with the system. Revenue service is slated to begin on Monday, June 10, 2013. The cost to ride the MetroRapid line will be $2.00, which is the same as the local fare. This alone should be able to entice riders to use MetroRapid, because they won’t have to pay a separate higher price (like the express routes) to use the service. Of course, if you purchase a day or month pass, you’re good to go as well!
Among the many benefits of using MetroRapid, over the current local Route 2, is a faster trip from the University Area Transit Center near the University of South Florida, to the Marion Street Transit Center in Downtown Tampa. Since the line will utilize both GPS and Transit Signal Priority systems, along with queue jump lanes and fewer stops than local routes, the MetroRapid buses will be able to travel through the Nebraska Ave and Fletcher Ave corridors faster than local buses. In fact, HART predicts that the total one-way travel time of the new line will be just under an hour.
To say the least, I’m very excited to see the introduction of Bus Rapid Transit in the Tampa area! I plan to make a journey onboard the MetroRapid line during the two week fare-free period to showcase the many benefits of MetroRapid, and BRT in general. I certainly hope that the MetroRapid line will be a huge success, because I strongly believe that a lot future transit developments (including rail) are going to be dependent on the success of the MetroRapid line.
Later this week, I will be following up on my previous posting that talked about how HART isn’t able to purchase additional buses due to having a constrained budget. In that post, I will go through in further detail as to why many transit districts are having to deal with such dire budget scenarios and how the success of HART’s MetroRapid line plays a role in the future of public transit in the Tampa Bay area.