According to HART Public Information Officer Marcia Mejia, within the last fiscal year, HART has seen a 5 percent increase in their U-pass program. However, budget cuts may or may not effect its services offered to USF students.
With the U-pass program USF students ride the HART, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, bus system for free with valid student i.d. and USF faculty and staff can ride for $0.25.
The USF Bull Runner connects with the HART University Area Transit Center, making it easy for students and staff to transfer buses, said Mejia.
HART’s regular ridership has steadily increased every month by at least 2 to 3 percent but February was their highest month with 1.2 million riders.
But all of this could be in jeopardy with the upcoming budget deficit for 2013 and while cuts to USF services haven’t been mentioned, it can’t be certain.
Fran Davin, HART’s board of directors chair, said although they didn’t know what the deficit would look like, she wasn’t very optimistic.
“When you look at the cutbacks that have happened to state and other local agencies, it doesn’t look very positive,” she said.
The board is projecting a very tentative $61 million budget for 2013, which is an entire million more than its current operating budget and is continuously effected by the increasing costs of fuel and maintenance for the buses.
Davin said the board plans on holding a workshop in May to brainstorm ideas on how to raise money and create other sources of revenue.
She hopes that this won’t effect its services to USF.
“If it did affect services we provided, we hope we would be able to find solutions so we wouldn’t curtail services,” said Davin. “We would have to do studies of routes, the number of people who were using which services, which routes, which were the busiest and go from there.”