If you’ve ever wished for a helicopter to fly you over traffic snarls to your destination, the idea of a limited-stop express bus running in speed-controlled interstate toll lanes may appeal to you. The Hillsborough MPO has partnered with FDOT District 7 to study how this big idea could work in the I-275 and I-4 corridors. Conceptual plans for the express toll lanes are under development by FDOT. The parallel transit study examines questions like:
- Will there be easy access to park & ride lots?
- What destinations would draw the most riders?
- How much would a bus service like this cost?
Cities like Houston and San Diego found that when they built park & ride stations with speedy direct ramps to the express lanes, they couldn’t keep up with the passenger demand. Demand for express bus service has also grown significantly in Miami’s I-95 corridor, where bus speed increased 300% after HOV lanes were converted to “HOT” Sunpass lanes and expanded.
Here in Tampa, a limited-stop express bus service might travel I-275 from St Petersburg to Carillon, Westshore, Downtown Tampa, the USF area and Wesley Chapel, with stations close to the interstate where local bus routes connect. Public meetings on the concept will be held as part of FDOT’s “Tampa Bay Express” toll lanes development planning process. Stay tuned for more info and public meeting dates, or contact Sarah McKinley, 813.273.3774 x382 to be placed on the MPO’s contact list for the BRT in Tampa Bay Express Toll Lanes study.