HART members slam Latvala/Brandes bill on transit merger

Last Friday St. Petersburg House Republican Jeff Brandes offered a substitute amendment to a bill (HB 1399) that would back a study analyzing the pros and cons of merging the transit agencies of Hillsborough & Pinellas Counties.

A day earlier, his bill would have required that the agencies merge. But the change hardly mollified members of the Hillsborough County Regional Transit Agency (HART) board Monday morning, who are still denouncing the bill's original intent, as sponsored in the Senate by Clearwater's Jack Latvala (SB 1866).

"This is one of the most underhanded, despicable things I've ever seen," charged Hillsborough County Commissioner and HART board member Sandy Murman. Most upsetting to her and her colleagues on the board is that the legislation calls for both HART and Pinellas' transit agency, PSTA, to contribute $50,000 each to TBARTA (Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority) to prepare a study analyzing such a merger.