HARTLINE Study group's findings discussed and dissected by Mitch E.Perry

04/26/06

Today Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair presented his Study Group’s findings on Hartline, the County’s Bus System, to the County Commissioners.

The study and the group that produced it have been shrouded in controversy since its inception, when it barred any citizens who live in Tampa from being involved. That angered Commissioners like Tom Scott and Kathy Castor, both of whom represent sections of Tampa.

Another reason for skepticism is that Blair – like fellow Commissioner Ronda Storms – has been an unrelenting critic of the transit system, and therefore some say the results were already pre-ordained.

Today Kathy Harris from the Study Group recited some criticisms that led to the group being created (roll tape#1 o.q.�like everyone else�)

And Harris laid out the recommendations that the Study Group came up with ….1 is to use new dollars to expand services in unincorporated areas that there is a consensus on where they should be …She laid out the others(roll tape#2 o.q.�in depth performance audit�)

Commissioner Brian Blair boasted that, contrary to media reports, the study group wasn’t about sabotaging Hartline (roll tape#3 o.q.� and they can be mixed together�)

In praising the frequently derided bus service, one Hartline Board member said that ridership is up 13%, 3 times the national average, and that the adjustment can not be laid upon high fuel prices…

Tampa City Councilman John Dingfelder said he didn’t want to bring back negative feelings, but said he thinks the study is flawed by not including representatives from Temple Terrace or Tampa (roll tape#4 o.q.�what the county has done�)

Hillsborough County Commission Jim Norman feared that unless some action is taken addressing the distribution of funding of bus service, and soon, the 48 page report will simply collect dust (roll tape#5 o.q.�SPOKE System�)

Norman described a Spoke System as creating new routes that can be paid with county ad valorum taxes, and later be able to privitize.

Hartline rider and Tampa resident Gloria Mills decried what she said was the Study group’s focus on putting Hillsborough County against the City of Tampa (roll tape# o.q.�that’s measurable�)

Commissioner Ronda Storms colorfully described how she feels citizens in the unincorporated areas of the County are dealing with the fact that they do NOT receive bus service comparable to the amount they are paying into the system (roll tape# 7 O.Q. “watch you eat“)…The study will now be reviewed by City and County officials throughout the region.

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