With high-speed rail out of the question for the time being, many in Tampa are wondering what will come of our public transportation and when we will have more ways to get around Tampa?

It may be sooner than we think with a system known as MetroRapid using Bus Rapid Transit technology.

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, or HART as we know it, just had funding approved to plant the seeds of what could become the top method of public transportation in the Tampa Bay Area.

So, what exactly is it?

Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT, utilizes buses which are bit longer than the typical city bus and operate in their own designated lane.  The BRT technology allows buses to quickly bypass traffic, lights, and other delays to give riders a speedier journey to their destination than the typical car.  MetroRapid utilizes this BRT technology, however, it will share the lanes with other traffic.

The funding HART received will go towards the construction of a 17.5 mile BRT line stretching from Downtown Tampa to the Hidden River area near the intersection of Fowler Avenue and I-75.  Initial planning indicates these lines will be ready for public use by March of 2013.

Money has also been set aside for the design of a BRT line running from the Tampa International Airport to East Tampa.

Best of all, capital costs for MetroRapid typically cost four to 20 times less than high-speed rail depending on factors like if the buses will operate with normal traffic or in separate corridors.

With MetroRapid's 40-foot buses using BRT technology such as traffic signal priority to delay red lights or lengthen greens, transportation in Tampa will be a sure-shot speedier endeavor than taking the car.

The 17.5-mile, Downtown to East Tampa line is a test run of sorts to see if something like this could be utilized throughout all of Tampa.  So, we've got to ask, Tampa; would you use MetroRapid as an alternative way to get around the city?