HART to clarify some aspects of transit plan before vote
Criticized Monday for their decision to put off determining routes for a light rail system until after a vote on paying for it, Hillsborough transit officials said Wednesday that voters will know at least two things before casting ballots in November.
The first, is whether light rail or enhanced bus service â?? known as bus rapid transit â?? will be the recommended choice for two major transit corridor improvements. The second, is how much it will cost.
Federal grant applications require studies across multiple transit types, as well as what the results would be if no improvements were provided.
On Monday, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority planners told the HART board that specific routes would not be selected before the Nov. 2 referendum, because HART and its consultant, Parsons Brinckerhoff, needed to refine light rail cost and ridership projections.
Planners expect additional modeling will better differentiate between light rail â?? the popular choice from an economic development and ridership standpoint â?? and bus rapid transit options.
It had been unclear since Monday whether voters would know whether they'd be choosing to raise the sales tax in support of light rail rather than bus rapid transit.
On Wednesday, however, HART chief executive David Armijo said HART's staff would complete the technical process before public hearings on Sept. 25 and 30.
"No substantive changes are expected after this date," Armijo said in a Wednesday e-mail to HART board members.
"On (Sept. 27), you will receive final alignment cost and other information you will need to make a decision on technology (such as light rail or BRT) in October or November.
"A final decision on a preferred alignment is scheduled for Nov. 15."
Although specific routes are unlikely to be determined before the referendum, proponents say that could work in favor of its passage.
That's because residents will have more opportunities to comment on two suggested routes between Tampa International Airport and downtown and three between downtown and the northeast suburbs.