Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County weighs options for THE Bus

BROOKSVILLE — Even with a season of budget cutting looming, the County Commission on Tuesday was not ready to put the brakes on THE Bus.

Saying they want to make cuts that won't hurt those who most need public transportation, commissioners voted unanimously to take over the maintenance of the service from the transit operator. That would mean the county would be fully reimbursed by the federal government rather than at the current 50 percent rate, a savings of an estimated $55,000.

A suggestion to park THE Bus one day a week, supported by Commissioner Jeff Stabins as a way to trim costs but save the service, generated discussion but not a decision.

Instead, commissioners said they wanted to hear the details of a bus ridership survey the county plans in April. That survey could tell commissioners the primary reasons people take the fixed-stop bus service and how many might be forced to seek out more expensive door-to-door county transport if THE Bus cuts back or eliminates services.

The county's public transportation system got blasted during last year's budget talks and some citizens continue to urge the county to close down the service because it does not get enough use.

"To continue this farce is ridiculous,'' Janey Baldwin said Tuesday.

Spring Hill resident Jon Knudson had a different view. He said he rode the bus several times lately and found it to not be as empty as some people have said. "To cut back the bus is going to hurt people,'' he said.

Still others called for more, not less, bus service.

The county's transportation planning coordinator, Dennis Dix, described the complex funding of the system including federal, state and local sources. THE Bus was started to replace expensive and inefficient door-to-door services provided in the past, he said.

As county staffers have explored ways to save money on the service, they concluded cutting one day a week would be the least intrusive. Cutting the number of hours each day would mean the service wouldn't work for commuters, Dix explained. Cutting routes would require state and federal approvals and would make it difficult to get to many places since the routes now is "bare bones,'' Dix said. Using smaller vans would also not save money .

Dix also said that eliminating THE Bus altogether would not save the county money. The county would then have to fund the more expensive door-to-door transit service with local dollars, which would cost $400,000. Capital costs, now paid for by federal dollars, would become the county's responsibility. That could mean another $500,000 a year to run smaller vans and buy new equipment.

In a perfect world, Stabins said, the county could fill the buses all the time and expand services. But cuts are needed. Dropping a day and taking on the maintenance would save the county an estimated $200,000.

"That's saving about a third'' of what the county puts into the system, Stabins said. "The $200,000 is a good chunk of change.''

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando County weighs options for THE Bus 03/04/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 4, 2008 9:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Deputies find unidentified decomposing body in Dunedin canal

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies found an unidentified male body floating in a Dunedin canal Monday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said.

  2. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  3. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108
  4. Fennelly: About time Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    It's Andy's time.

    And it's about time.

    Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk has been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. He had been eligible since 2009, a ridiculously long wait for someone who scored 640 goals, including a record 274 on the power play.

    LEFT: Dave Andreychuk talks at the podium as he is honored with a statue in front of the now-Amalie Arena.
  5. British government says 75 out of 75 buildings failed fire safety tests


    LONDON — Britain on Monday confronted a rapidly growing fire safety crisis after tests of the exterior cladding on dozens of public housing towers revealed a 100 percent failure rate, raising fears that this month's deadly inferno in London could be repeated elsewhere.

    Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali, presents his first Chrono-Hologram in Paris, France, in 1973. A Spanish judge on Monday June 26, 2017, has ordered the remains of artist Salvador Dali to be exhumed following a paternity suit by a woman named by Europa Press agency as Pilar Abel, 61 from the nearby city of Girona. Dali, considered one of the fathers of surrealism in art, died in 1989 and is buried in his museum in the northeastern town of Figueres. [Associated Press]