Friday, June 22, 2018
News Roundup

Hernando County bus system gains riders, loses critics

Everybody's on board with THE Bus, probably because more people are boarding buses.

The County Commission agreed last week to spend $385,000 on a new bus for Hernando's mass transit system.

The money comes from the federal government, meaning it won't cost the county a dime, which would seem to make this an unremarkable decision. That would be true, except that it's a complete reversal of a 2009 vote, when the commission had a chance to replace most of its fleet with five new buses, but — wary of accepting a politically poisonous federal handout for the equally toxic local transit system — turned down $1.5 million.

Also last week, the commission agreed to let staffers negotiate a contract with a company that will build bus shelters and benches for the right to plaster them with advertising. Once again, it shouldn't cost the county a thing, and it would hardly be worth mentioning, except that this deal is for the bus system, and the commission approved it without a word of protest.

What's changed?

I would say the commission has come to its senses except that, with its recent rejections of fluoridating water and charging school impact fees, I know for a fact this is not true.

Probably, it has more to do with the way THE Bus is functioning — as a valuable public service with a growing sector of voters who depend on it.

At Tuesday's meeting, even gadfly Hamilton Hanson just offered his standard objection, which is that the bus routes don't go where people live. Though he didn't come out and say it, this means the county's most visible tea partier favors a more expensive system, which it would be if buses meandered through residential neighborhoods.

Even without such a convenience, people are finding their way onto buses. In the first four months of the current fiscal year, the number of riders has climbed nearly 20 percent compared to the same period last year.

And unlike previous changes in ridership, this can't be explained by a big alteration in fares or routes.

You can't even put it on gas prices, which are slightly lower than last year. No, the best explanation is that the commission has made slight, reasonable changes to the system in the past two years, when it dropped the wait time between buses from two hours to 75 minutes. People have just gotten to know the system and find it useful.

So we have a happy ending here, right?

No, because that rejected federal grant is long gone — and not saved, either — just redistributed to Citrus County, which has a new central bus terminal partly paid for with what should have been our transportation money.

And, putting aside the one new bus, we're left with the scraps of federal funding — $150,000 to buy and fix buses that have seen years of service in Hillsborough County.

The one good thing about this is that it's such a tiny sum in the realm of transportation dollars that nobody could possibly complain about the expense of mass transit. Especially if you compare it to the cost of the current system of building enough roads and enough lanes so everyone can conveniently drive where they want in their own cars. For example, the ongoing widening of just a few miles of State Road 50 is costing us $40 million.

We darn well should be on board with THE Bus.

Comments
Derrick Brooks won’t pursue USF’s AD job

Derrick Brooks won’t pursue USF’s AD job

The local favorite for USF's athletic director job said Friday that he is not a candidate.In a three-paragraph statement, Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks said his commitments to Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School, his charities and fam...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

TAMPA — A Democrat has officially joined the race for Hillsborough County sheriff.Gary Pruitt, a 50-year-old former Tampa police corporal who now works as director of security at a local mall, qualified Friday to challenge Republican Sheriff Chad Chr...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
With Winston suspension, how might Bucs split QB reps in preseason?

With Winston suspension, how might Bucs split QB reps in preseason?

With news that Jameis Winston will be suspended for the first three games of 2018, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter has an interesting decision to make for training camp and especially in preseason games: How does he split reps between Winston and backup Ryan...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Writer resigns from ‘New Yorker’ after twitter flap over Pasco Marine’s tattoo

Writer resigns from ‘New Yorker’ after twitter flap over Pasco Marine’s tattoo

Talia Lavin, whose tweet about a Pasco veteran’s tattoo implied he was a Nazi, has apologized to him and resigned from her position as a fact-checker at the New Yorker magazine.But in another tweet, Thursday evening, Lavin also lashed out at the fede...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

TAMPA — CareSync, a Tampa health care information technology company that raised millions from private investors in recent years, has shut down. The company ceased operations on Thursday, laying off nearly 300 people, according to former employees an...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Carlton: That snake-like thing living under your refrigerator? It’s a skink. Welcome to Florida

Carlton: That snake-like thing living under your refrigerator? It’s a skink. Welcome to Florida

At first I thought it was a snake.Because wouldn’t it be typically Florida to come home and find a snake poking its nose out from under your stove? Which wouldn’t be a problem or anything. I would just have to move out is all.But no, the creature th...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Support growing for Tom Jurich to become Bulls’ next AD

Support growing for Tom Jurich to become Bulls’ next AD

This dispatch comes at you from a remote south Georgia lake shore, where the waters remain far more pristine than the waves being made in USF athletics circles.Which is to say, a number of prominent folks are clamoring for Tom Jurich to become the Bu...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Updated: 1 hour ago
Top 5 at noon: Uncertainty looms for migrant families at the border; the aftermath of Jameis Winston’s suspension; and more

Top 5 at noon: Uncertainty looms for migrant families at the border; the aftermath of Jameis Winston’s suspension; and more

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com.AT A MEXICAN SHELTER, MIGRANTS WHO FLED DEATH THREATS PREPARE FOR ‘ZERO TOLERANCE’ AT THE BORDERShe fled Honduras with her son after gangs threatened to kill her. Will she reach the U.S.? In a...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

ST. PETERSBURG — The 16th annual St. Pete Pride Parade is getting ready to march along the downtown waterfront the second straight year. But many hope to move past the division caused last year when the parade was uprooted from its original hom...
Updated: 2 hours ago