HART has partnered with the Florida Department of Transportation to help answer the transportation needs in the downtown Tampa area. The FDOT will set aside up to $1 million in funding for an autonomous vehicle circulator service connection between Marion Transit Center (1211 North Marion Street) and the central downtown area. The circulator will run along the controlled access Marion Transitway.
This new project puts Tampa at the forefront of the autonomous vehicle movement, as the circulator would be one of the first in the U.S. to utilize this technology. Its arrival would also help settle some serious transportation issues that have plagued Tampa in recent years. Last year, MOSI made waves with the addition of autonomous vehicles in their museum. In the neighboring city of Lakeland, Florida Polytechnic University’s SunTrax Facility will act as a space to test and develop advanced transportation concepts.
“Our mission is to help solve the transportation needs of our area utilizing all transportation modes, while maximizing the use of the funding sources available. We are very excited about this project,” FDOT District Seven Secretary Paul Steinman said.
HART will receive $500,000 each year for the next two years from the FDOT to fund the project. This project is just the tip of the iceberg for HART. Their goal is to continue to bring innovative technologies to the Tampa area. The organization believes autonomous vehicles can supplement the HART transit network with first-mile last-mile service, and add more options for underserved areas in Tampa.
As the battle to keep Uber/Lyft in Tampa continues, residents are continuing to seek effective, affordable and convenient forms of transportation around the city. This past summer, Tampa’s massive Riverfest revealed the issues of traffic congestion and available parking in the area. Enhanced public transportation options appear to be the answer.
On November 29 and 30, Tampa will host the fourth annual Florida Automated Vehicle Summit. The event is dedicated to showcasing Florida’s progress in preparing for automated vehicles.