Hillsborough County may become home to a different kind of transit solution that involves toll roads, bus lanes and shared road space.
Bus toll lanes (BTL) are managed lanes that will be added to existing expressways, allowing express transit buses to transport large numbers of people and avoid road congestion. Cars and other vehicles will also be able to use the lanes on a toll basis, with cost varying by traffic flow.
The concept is being developed by a partnership between Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority
(THEA) and Hillsborough Area Regional Transit
(HART). The partnership utilizes the strengths of each system, with toll roads providing the operations and maintenance and transit moving large numbers of people.
Although not a new concept, Hillsborough’s BTL financial model is innovative. Federal funds would be used for the initial construction, and toll revenue would then take over to pay for the operations and maintenance of the buses using the lanes. Excess revenue would be used to help fund future transit improvements, keeping the money local.
"It’s a local solution for local transportation problems," says Bob Frey, planning director for THEA. "It’s Hillsborough taking care of Hillsborough, and that, to me, is a positive."
A concept study funded by a federal grant was recently completed, which is now being broken down into segments to determine the best placement of the lanes. The partnership is currently evaluating a variety of roadway which will provide both good transit routes and toll roads. Once the location is determined, a pilot project will be implemented.
Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Bob Frey, THEA