In an attempt to protect students near a busy stretch of Hillsborough Avenue that has had deadly pedestrian accidents, a new shuttle service debuted Monday.

The shuttle made several runs Monday from the Meridian Pointe Apartments to nearby Middleton High School. Hillsborough County Schools officials are optimistic the shuttle will give students an alternative from crossing the busy street mid-block.

There is a crossing several blocks away at 22nd Street.

Norma Velasquez-Cabrera, 15, and Victoria Velasquez-Cabrera, 14, were struck while trying to cross east Hillsborough Avenue near 25th Street to get to school March 17. Norma died March 22. Victoria is recovering from a broken arm.

Norma Velasquez-Cabrera was the second student killed in the location since 2011.

"That shows that they're (school board) really concerned about the welfare of the students," apartment resident Bryant Holland said. "So I think that would be very, very good."

Still, some residents argue the shuttle doesn't take the place of what is really needed at the entrance of the apartment complex - a traffic light.

"I don't think the kids are going to catch that shuttle (long-term)," said Hank Boyd, who lives in the complex. "They prefer to walk and be with their friends and all that type of stuff, so I really don't believe they're going to catch that shuttle."  

The Florida Department of Transportation also has examined the stretch of the roadway.

There are plans to add 125 new lights along Hillsborough Avenue between Nebraska Avenue and 50th Street.

Meanwhile, the shuttle will continue to pick up students every morning starting at 6:45 a.m. for the rest of the school year.