On March 3, 2016, the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at the University of South Florida premiered a webcast entitled “Methodology for Linking Greenways and Trails with Public Transportation in Florida.” The webcast was presented by Sara J. Hendricks, AICP to announce the findings of her most recent research. Hendricks is a Senior Research Associate interested in mobility issues, especially those relevant to vulnerable populations. This project was sponsored by the National Center for Transit Research with funding from the Florida Department of Transportation.
Hendricks wants to improve urban environments for people who rely on biking, walking, and buses to get around. The research presented in the webcast examines the quality of public access to bike/walk trails and bus transit among the following populations: low-income workers seeking access to employment opportunities, senior citizens seeking access to recreational opportunities, and adult students seeking access to school campuses. The purpose of the research was to provide a way to evaluate connections between public transportation and public trails, assessing the mobility and livability needs of the people living in Florida’s communities.
Connections between Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) and the Upper Tampa Bay Trail, and connections between Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) and the Pinellas Trail were mapped and analyzed. More specifically, Hendricks mapped bus stop and route locations, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, public trails, home locations, and the desired destinations of travelers. The results identify areas where public transit and trail systems do not fully meet the needs of the populations studied.
Hendricks recommends building stronger connections between trails and transit in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties, making safe and convenient travel available to all Tampa Bay residents. “Current planning efforts to develop strong trail systems in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties open up greater opportunities to link trails with transit service,” she states. “For those who do not drive, these links put even more destinations within their reach.”