Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Early study of possible Pinellas, Hillsborough transit merger calls process long and complex

Merging the Pinellas and Hillsborough county transit systems would be costly and complex, possibly taking as long as five years to complete, according to a new draft study.

The two transit agencies' boards met on Monday to discuss the study, which outlined three possible scenarios for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority and Hillsborough Area Regional Transit. In one plan, the agencies would merge completely, combining their bus fleets and aligning their fares. In another, they would partner but remain legally distinct, and in a third, they would continue to operate separately.

Conducted by McCollum Consulting, a company the agencies hired after the state Legislature forced them to consider a merger, the draft study received a mostly negative response.

Hillsborough officials have long opposed the idea of combining transit agencies, and on Monday, many Pinellas officials said the timing was wrong.

"The reaction from the PSTA board members today was more mixed, most saying, well, there's a lot of good ideas in the report but maybe the timing was not right," said Brad Miller, chief executive officer of the PSTA.

Both agencies rely on property taxes for funding, and in the aftermath of the recession and the housing crisis, both have suffered considerable budget cuts. PSTA also is in the middle of redrawing its bus routes to accommodate a glut of new riders.

Proponents of a merger have argued that combining the agencies would save money by reducing staff. The savings from eliminating duplicative management positions would come to about $2.4 million, according to the draft report, which estimates that few driver or mechanic jobs would be lost.

The draft study also highlighted many obstacles to a merger. Each county's transit agency has two collective bargaining agreements with two different unions. Bus operators and mechanics work under different wage scales. And while Hillsborough prefers buses powered by compressed natural gas, Pinellas favors diesel-hybrid buses.

A merger would be further complicated by the fact that it would require not only state lawmakers' approval, but also majority votes by the agencies' boards and voter referendums.

The final version of the study is due in December, and the boards are expected to vote on it in January, Miller said.

Anna M. Phillips can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8779.

Early study of possible Pinellas, Hillsborough transit merger calls process long and complex 11/12/12 [Last modified: Monday, November 12, 2012 9:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Florida education news: Working conditions, school choice, teacher housing and more

    Blogs

    WORK CONDITIONS: Two teachers at a Pinellas County middle school request transfers out, saying the campus has become "hostile and racially charged." The …

    Pinellas Park Middle School
  2. Forecast: Break out those sweaters, Tampa Bay, as cooler weather just a day away

    Weather

    Tampa Bay residents will finally be able to break out their sweaters and boots this week, but not until enduring yet another humid, rainy day to start the workweek.

    Tampa Bay's 7-day forecast. [WTSP]
  3. Justin Timberlake in Super Bowl halftime show for first time since 'wardrobe malfunction'

    Celebrities

    Justin Timberlake has finally been invited back to the Super Bowl halftime show, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson caused a national controversy.

    Singer Janet Jackson covers her breast as Justin Timberlake holds part of her costume after her outfit came undone during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston in 2004. The NFL announced Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, that Timberlake will headline the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 4 in Minnesota, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson cause a national controversy. [Associated Press]
  4. Here's what happened when 30 high school sophomores gave up their phones for a day

    K12

    LUTZ — They were everywhere at Steinbrenner High School. Teens with panic-stricken faces, furiously slapping one thigh, then the other.

    Grace Hayes, 15, left, and Kai'Rey Lewis, 15, talk and text friends after having a discussion about smartphone technology in Tiffany Southwell's English Literature class at Steinbrenner High last week. Southwell asked theme to give up their phones for a day and write about it. For Lewis, the ride home that day "was the longest bus ride in my life." [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  5. Cuban media treats visit by Tampa City Council as historic event

    Politics

    TAMPA — Delegations of one kind or another have been traveling from Tampa to Cuba for years, even before President Barack Obama took steps to normalize relations between the two countries in December 2014.

    A Tampa delegation to Cuba this week was featured prominently in reports by the state-run media in Cuba, including Granma. From left are Tampa City Council vice chair Harry Cohen, St. Petersburg City Council Chair Darden Rice, Tampa philanthropist David Straz and Tampa City Council Chair Yolie Capin.