Blend of politics, regulation stains transportation agency | June 16
Transport board serves vital role
To suggest that the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission be abolished because of one bad apple is absurd. That would mean that every state and county board or commission be abolished if one of its members is alleged to have violated the law, including the Hillsborough County Commission when three of its members were indicted on federal bribery charges in the 1980s.
The PTC plays a vital role in protecting the public interests and public safety against public transportation operators who want to function without regulations. Having worked with this commission since the 1970s, either as legal counsel or as a hearing officer, I believe it should be a model for other counties.
It was the PTC that put a stop to the antics of tow truck operators who indiscriminately towed vehicles without justification, or who charged exorbitant fees.
It is the PTC that makes sure every limousine, taxi and van driver does not have a serious criminal or driving record or a history of alcoholism or drug addiction or worse.
It is the PTC that makes sure every basic life support ambulance is properly equipped with a properly trained staff.
There are more important matters facing Hillsborough County and the state than abolishing a sound regulatory process like that of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission.
Paul J. Marino, PTC hearing officer, Indian Rocks Beach
100 charging stations for electric cars coming soon | June 16
No free rides for electrics
There have been several articles recently on electric vehicles. The latest talked about free plug-in stations at local AAA offices.
A significant portion of the cost of every gallon of gasoline is federal and state taxes that are ostensibly collected to support the infrastructure for motor vehicle traffic. While some of that money is routinely siphoned off for the usual kinds of political whim and fantasy to which we have become accustomed, most of it still supports motor vehicle infrastructure.
My question is: Where is the equivalent tax being collected with respect to electric vehicles? Are electric vehicles going to be de facto exempt from the taxes necessary to support the motor vehicle infrastructure they will surely use?
Seems to me it's past the time when a conversion table needs to be created that transforms "cents per gallon" of gasoline tax to an equivalent "cents per kilowatt hour" tax for vehicle electricity. Also, the mechanism needed to collect the tax does not yet exist and needs to be created.
The last thing we need is another tax freebie like sales taxes on Internet purchases where only some are paying for stuff that is used by everybody.
Dennis McKenna, Palm Harbor
Earlier this month, my wife and I flew to Baltimore to see a couple of Rays games while they were on the road.
We flew into Baltimore/Washington International and took a cab to our downtown hotel, a short walk to the ballpark. Cab fare with tip came to $45. When we left three days later, we rolled our suitcases three blocks to a light rail stop, bought a ticket from a machine, and road in comfort directly to the airport for $1.60 each, a total of $3.20.
This is just one more aspect to consider regarding light rail. I sure wish our state and local politicians had a little more foresight.
Chris Brown, St. Petersburg
TBARTA budget cut | June 11, letter
Helping people, commerce
As chairman of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority board, I would like to respond to this letter. It incorrectly stated that the authority's mission is to coordinate transit along and through county lines. That is not true, as our focus is much broader than transit. TBARTA was created by a unanimous vote of the Legislature in 2007 to develop and implement a regional transportation plan for Tampa Bay. The master plan was completed in 2009, ahead of schedule and approved by all seven counties in the Tampa Bay region with much public involvement.
The mission of TBARTA is to connect people and places and to move goods and services across the region. TBARTA's approach is collaborative and cooperative; it does not have the power to force transit agencies to do anything.
The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit and Florida Department of Transportation do not meet as a single entity. It is collaboration with TBARTA that results in short-term solutions as well as a longer-term vision for improved transportation in the region. TBARTA believes, along with two-thirds of the citizens of Tampa Bay, that a regional approach to transportation will foster better services and save taxpayers' dollars.
The letter is also wrong in stating that HART and PSTA coordinate significant transit services across county boundaries. In fact, currently very limited service is provided by PSTA into Hillsborough County. TBARTA is working closely with HART and PSTA to ensure that Hillsborough and Pinellas residents have options to cross the bay in a seamless manner.
TBARTA has done, in a frugal and effective manner, a great job of addressing the transportation and connectivity needs of the community, with significant input from many diverse stakeholders in the region. Our mission is not transit but rather transportation, and we are committed to addressing and working on transportation options for all of the residents of the region.
Ronnie Duncan, TBARTA chairman, Tampa