On Wednesday, April 27, the MPO held its first School Transportation Committee Working Group meeting. The new group is the brainchild of School Board Member Cindy Stuart, who joined the Hillsborough MPO just last year in a newly created seat for the District. With almost 90,000 students taking school buses to and from school every day, an inter-agency team to troubleshoot and strategize makes perfect sense. Inter-agency partnerships will be vital for problem-solving the issues of traffic circulation, walking and bicycling safety, promoting transit, and forming various school-pools.
Lorraine Duffy Suarez, General Manager of Growth Management & Planning for Hillsborough County Public Schools, was pleased with the new collaboration. “All the departments and agencies involved are focused on improving the quality of the transportation experience in our communities, from the students who walk to school to the commuters who are stopped by a long queue of parents dropping off students. We know we can do better for all of them if we work together.”
Early successes include:
- MPO and Planning Commission to help in the needs assessment for a Community School at Mort Elementary School
- Plant City city engineer coordinating with a local school principal on adjacent roadway work
- The MPO created a new website where map data is shared among agencies
National interest from the Association of MPOs, which is researching policy guidance for transportation for students, especially as school choice increasingly affects attendance patterns, and traffic congestion affects efficiency