January 2021 – The MPO initiated a transit study in 2020 to evaluate the feasibility of implementing transit service to Plant City to provide residents with transportation to fulfill their daily needs and access jobs and recreation. Conducted in partnership with Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) at the request of Plant City, the study analyzed the feasibility of operating a commuter service to downtown Tampa, a circulator service within Plant City, and possible connections to Lakeland in the future.
The study focused on capturing the needs of the community and identifying the future areas of growth through a market analysis and public engagement. An initial stakeholder focus group was conducted in February 2020 to identify community needs by evaluating the existing conditions, major corridors, activity centers, and future areas of growth.
Following the first focus group, the study team analyzed various transit alternatives for the commuter express route and the circulator route and estimated operating costs based on data provided by HART. The analysis was presented to the stakeholders at a second focus group in May 2020, conducted virtually due to the health pandemic. In addition, there was an online survey following the meeting to gather further input. The survey was well received and yielded almost 120 responses.
A third phase of outreach was presented through a virtual public open house in August 2020. A website was set up to resemble an open house workshop with tabs explaining various modules related to the transit alternatives evaluation. The virtual workshop was open for three weeks and gave the public the opportunity to navigate the website, study the background and existing conditions, and provide their feedback.
Based on the feedback received from the virtual public open house and survey, three alternatives for the circulator route, five alternatives for the Tampa to Plant City express route, and a Lakeland to Plant City route were evaluated. Planning level costs were estimated for all the alternatives. The final set of alternatives was presented to the Plant City – City Commission, Planning Board, HART Board, and the MPO Committees and Board for their final approval in December 2020. The Plant City Transit Study produced a final report that will serve as a transit master plan and provide background for Plant City and HART to implement a transit service in the future.