Post was updated on 5/10/18 at approx. 8:45pm ET
A link to HART’s flyer has been added to the post.
It’s that time again…time for the Tampa Bay Air Fest and all of the awesomeness that it brings! This year’s event will be held on Saturday, May 12, 2018 and Sunday, May 13, 2018.
As with previous events, traffic congestion throughout South Tampa will be very heavy, so you will want to leave early and be prepared to brave the crowds…both at the event and while on the road. If you want to avoid the traffic and parking hassles, I strongly encourage you to use transit to get to and from the event. As with many previous events, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) is partnering with MacDill Air Force Base to provide bus transportation. However, with last year’s Mission MAX system restructuring taking place – Route 4 no longer exists, so HART is instead modifying Route 360LX to operate more frequently during AirFest Weekend.
Scene from one of the previous AirFests. Credit: HARTride 2012
Gates will open at 8:00am, but as in years past, you can expect to see cars lining up as early as 7:00am or earlier. Why sit in traffic and worry about if you’ll even get a parking space when you can leave the driving to HART?
While the normal Route 360LX operates hourly – with Brandon to South Tampa service operating Monday through Saturday & South Tampa only service on Sundays, the modified service will operate every 15 minutes between the Britton Plaza Shopping Center and MacDill via Downtown Tampa’s Marion Transit Center, with 30 minute service between Britton Plaza and Downtown Tampa. This will provide a convenient and frequent one-seat ride to and from the festivities. Service east of Downtown will operate on an hourly basis, following the normal Saturday schedule. All normal Route 360LX stops north of Britton Plaza will be served, while the stops along Dale Mabry Hwy south of Britton will not. Buses will instead detour via Euclid Ave, MacDill Ave, Shelton Ave, and Bayshore Blvd – entering the Bayshore Gate. Buses will then drop off passengers at a loading/unloading area near Hangar 1.
Please note that the map above is based on the current Route 360LX routing, along with detours enacted during past events. Routing is subject to change due to traffic and security limitations. Map was created by HARTride 2012.
Saturday services between Westfield Brandon and the Marion Transit Center in Downtown Tampa will mirror the normal Saturday schedule with hourly departures. The Downtown to Britton Plaza leg will operate based off of the normal Saturday schedule, but will have the additional runs added in to create a 30-minute headway between the two stops. Because of traffic limitations, HART will do its best to maintain 15-minute frequency south of Britton Plaza and will have extra buses staged for use if needed.
Sunday services will be similar to that of Saturday, but with no service between South Tampa and Brandon outside of event shuttle hours. Event shuttle service will commence at 8:00am on both days, with buses traveling inbound (from Brandon to South Tampa) until roughly 4:00pm. After 4:00pm, service in South Tampa will shift to an outbound mode – meaning that buses will begin travelling northbound/eastbound only towards Downtown and Brandon (with limited southbound trips). Trips may alternate amongst the two destinations and guests should carefully examine the LED signs on the bus to make sure they’re boarding the correct bus to their final destination. The outbound pattern will continue from South Tampa until about 6:00pm. After that time, the additional trips will begin winding down and normal evening services will commence.
All other HART routes (17, 30, 36, & 60LX included) will operate their normal weekend schedules.
Normal HART fares apply for the Route 360LX shuttle, as well as all other HART bus routes. Because of the many constraints involved with AirFest; if you’re considering hopping on the bus, you should purchase your HARTride Farecard or Flamingo App/Card fare in advance. If you choose to pay for your fare on board the bus, you will be asked to pay with cash (exact change please), as there won’t be enough 1-Day Farecards available for issuance on board the bus.
For those wishing to park their cars in order to catch a HART bus to AirFest, you will need to keep in mind that regular parking fees apply to all Downtown Tampa parking garages and lots that typically charge a fee. Please leave metered street-side parking spaces open and available for those who need to do business in Downtown, and do not park in permit-only lots – as your vehicle will be subjected to towing. Please also do not park your vehicle along residential streets – as once again, your vehicle will be subjected to towing. Residential streets need to be as open as possible to allow First Responders to safely pass through and to allow local residents and their guests room to park.
If you’re parking your vehicle at Britton Plaza or Westfield Brandon Mall, please keep in mind that these are NOT official HART Park-N-Ride lots and are owned by their respective private mall/shopping center owners. While arrangements are in place for AirFest, you should return to your vehicle no later that 9:00pm to prevent your vehicle from being towed. As businesses begin closing down for the night at 9:00pm, any vehicles remaining in either parking lot (aside from employees who are wrapping up their work at the on-site businesses) will be subjected to towing.
Many will be enticed to use Uber or Lyft to get from A to B due to the traffic constraints in South Tampa, and while such ride share services can be convenient, they can also get very expensive if one does not know for sure the full extent of the circumstances that AirFest brings to South Tampa traffic. Because of security limitations, all vehicles entering the base to attend AirFest (except HART buses of course) will be required to park in the assigned spaces along the tarmac. Once parked, you will not be able to just whisk your vehicle out of the base to drop someone off – the vehicle will have to stay parked for a few hours. Therefore, you should consider being dropped off either at a location near the intersection of Dale Mabry Hwy and Interbay Blvd and walk to the base from there, or being dropped off at Britton Plaza, Marion Transit Center, or Westfield Brandon to catch a HART bus.
Because MacDill AFB is an active military installation, certain items are prohibited and all guests are subject to airport-style security screening at the event entrance. A full list of prohibited items is available on the AirFest website.