Former HART CEO David Armijo weighs in on alternative analysis debate

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One of those dissenting is the former HART CEO, who pens an op-ed in today's Tampa Tribune stating his reasons why the agency should continue to finish the work its put into it over the last year and a half.

With revenue shortfalls leading the board to potentially cut services and raise fares and taxes, Armijo poses the logical question that critics surely have stated: that with light rail off the table for the short term, the agency has far bigger pressing issues than continuing a study that will just end up on a shelf upon completion.

But the former CEO says HART has to have a grander vision than that, writing:

Why continue the alternatives analysis when HART would appear to have more immediate problems? Finishing the analysis will help HART focus its limited financial resources on a defined future mission rather than trying to respond to growing transportation needs with incomplete solutions.

Delaying the completion of the alternatives analysis is short-sighted, will adversely impact the region's quality of life and reduce its competitiveness with other regions, such as Charlotte and Phoenix, that have made prudent decisions on their region's transportation future with great success.

The time for Tampa to take action is now, not later.

Such an argument was made by Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner at the last HART meeting when the issue arose. Beckner's BOCC colleagues who also serve on the HART board, Mark Sharpe and Sandy Murman, shared some of that sentiment, but pushed for the board to kill the study immediately.

HART planner Mary Shevalier told the board earlier this month that the A.A., which began in July of 2009, has so far cost $1.5 million. That's money obtained from the federal government. They would not have to pay that money back if the study were to end prematurely. She also said there was approximately $400,000 left of those funds.

Now, the agency will discuss the issue in depth next Monday.


Depending on your point of view, now former Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) CEO David Armijo either got railroaded out of his position when allegations of improprieties were brought to the attention of the HART board back in February, or he got his just deserts when the board opted to fire him last month.

In any event, he's gone, but the vexing issues with the transit agency still very much continue. The most immediate situation approaching is whether or not the board will continue to support the finish of an alternatives analysis required by the feds to determine what is the ideal mode of transportation the agency and the community will implement for the future.

After the landslide election last November defeating the transit tax initiative that would fund the beginning of a light rail system, some might think the conversation is over, and the A.A. should be put to bed. But others disagree.

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