Strategies for Improved County Transit

How can public transit adjust with changing population densities to best serve its own community?
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Public transit in the United States is an increasingly challenging system to design, with commuters traveling within and between rural, suburban, and urban communities.

The Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) worked with ChangeLabs to shape a long-term, mass-transit plan to drive economic growth, environmentally sustainable futures, and a more connected community. Hillsborough County, located in Florida, serves a population of over 1.2 million people, with 65% of its constituents located in rural and suburban communities, and 35% located within Tampa (the largest city of the county). 


The future of mass transit is extremely uncertain, though there are still efforts being launched by public sector agencies to tackle this complex challenge. 

The conventional forms of passenger transport – high-capacity rail systems and large buses ­– are greatly disadvantaged in reaching a diverse range of commuters, as more and more people located in decentralized communities travel in and out of major cities. Yet, to create an environmentally sustainable future, increase economic opportunities, and cater to citizen needs, public agencies need to design future systems that can provide mass transit options for both the rapidly evolving decentralized travel markets and the centralized urban city. 

Impact Goals

There were five impact goals in this project:  

1) Vastly reduce the ecological footprint of Hillsborough County.

2) Improve the quality of public transit for rural, suburban, and urban constituents.

3) Drive a cultural shift that brings connectedness to these types of geographically diverse regions of the US.

4) Enhance quality of life.

5) Fuel economic development, including attracting and retaining skilled workers. 


A team was tasked with designing the concepts and strategies around an innovative policy model and unique transport solution – crafted through the lens of human behavior change. The team also provided recommendations on how to effectively and viably communicate the tangible and intangible benefits of this holistic strategy to the community.

The strategies and policy innovations were considered for the 2014 ballot in Hillsborough County, FL. 

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