June 07--TAMPA -- Bus transportation serving Tampa International Airport could become more efficient and service expanded if airport and HART planners agree to relocate a proposed bus transfer center from just outside the airport to a site near the economy parking garage.
Airport officials asked the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority to put on hold design and construction of a $3 million project for a bus transfer center at Spruce and O'Brien streets, which is on aviation authority property but south of the airport's main runways.
The airport might consider a transportation center closer to the heart of the airport that could be linked to the main terminal by a "people mover." The center would be a place where passengers could transfer to other modes of transportation.
That might be similar to the shuttles carrying passengers to and from outlying airside terminals where passengers board and leave airliners.
Final plans and agreements for a new transit terminal would be at least a year off pending the airport revising its long-range master plan after gathering data on passenger demand.
"The airport's motivation is to improve passenger connectivity with buses now that the light rail plans are not (imminent)" airport spokeswoman Brenda Geoghagan said.
Geoghagan said a terminal within the airport would improve options for both passengers and airport employees. HART officials said such a center could improve airport options for bus riders from both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
HART's plan for the O'Brien-Spruce location was to relocate bus transfer operations from the West Shore Plaza to a site where traffic would not be as heavy as at the shopping mall.
The O'Brien-Spruce location, on which $140,000 in design plans and $3,000 in airport lease funds have been expended, also was chosen to improve connectivity between Hillsborough and Pinellas bus routes.
The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority would be willing to discuss with HART how to accommodate the possible requirement to reimburse the federal government for the $140,000 spent so far in planning the site, since the airport initiated the discussion to relocate it, officials said.
The airport has not received other proposals for the possible use of site, Geoghagan said.