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Caitlin Johnston, Times Staff Writer

Caitlin Johnston

Caitlin Johnston covers transportation, breaking news and features in Hillsborough County. She is a graduate of Indiana University, with her master's from the University of Maryland.

She's always looking for story ideas.

Phone: (813) 226-3401


Twitter: @cljohnst

  1. HART, PSTA will work together to sell Tallahassee on regional bus fare system

    Mass Transit

    ST. PETERSBURG — The bay area's leading transit agencies are taking a second swing at scoring state dollars to help fund a regional bus ticket system — and they hope teaming up will bolster their chances.

    The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority held a joint meeting Monday to discuss their funding priorities for the 2016 legislative session. Both agencies agreed they needed to present a united front and make the regional fare box their top priority if they hope to win over state lawmakers....

    HART and PSTA are working together to sell Tallahassee on regional bus fare system. 
  2. Uber finds partners in Tampa Bay area


    TAMPA — A government agency is still trying to shut down Uber. But that hasn't prevented the rideshare company from extending its tentacles into the community and forging partnerships with hotels and bars — and, potentially, another government agency.

    Uber has clashed with the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, which regulates for-hire vehicles, since launching in Tampa Bay in April 2014. But while the PTC maintains Uber is unresponsive, uncooperative and a "bully," other local businesses and community events have ignored the regulatory battle....

    “The forging of these partnerships makes our life harder,” says Victor Crist, chairman of the PTC.
  3. Hillsborough commissioner rails against ridesharing nemesis Uber


    TAMPA — Earlier this month, a judge pressed local regulators and Uber to work together and find a way for the rideshare company to operate legally in Hillsborough County.

    That's not happening any time soon.

    County Commissioner Victor Crist, who also serves as the chairman of Hillsborough's taxi-regulating Public Transportation Commission, railed against the company during Wednesday's commission meeting....

  4. Hillsborough puts 1-cent transportation sales tax back in play


    TAMPA — A 1-cent sales tax for transportation is back on the table in Hillsborough County.

    Two months after Go Hillsborough officials unveiled a transportation plan built around a half-cent sales tax, the county's transportation leadership group said Monday that it wants residents to also consider a full penny-on-the-dollar sales tax as another round of community meetings begin.

    The idea is to show the community the stark differences in what the two plans could fund, specifically when looking at a project list for the first 10 years that the sales tax would be in effect....

    Community members attend a Go Hillsborough meeting in Town 'N County. The meeting was one in a series aimed at developing a countywide transportation plan to fix overcrowded roads and improve limited transit offerings.
  5. Despite legal setback, Hillsborough regulators will keep ticketing Uber drivers


    TAMPA — The standoff between rideshare company Uber and local regulators isn't going away any time soon.

    The Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission voted Wednesday to continue ticketing Uber drivers — despite a circuit judge's recent refusal to shut down the company.

    The PTC has already conducted dozens of sting operations to ensnare the company and its more than 2,000 drivers operating around the Tampa Bay area....

    The Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission voted Wednesday to continue ticketing Uber drivers — despite a circuit judge’s recent refusal to shut down the company. [Getty Images (2014)]
  6. Hillsborough judge rejects injunction to stop Uber's rideshare service


    TAMPA — Uber will continue to operate in Hillsborough County after surviving its latest bout in the legal ring with local regulators.

    A circuit judge on Friday denied a motion from regulators asking for an injunction that could have forced the rideshare company to stop serving the county.

    Hillsborough Circuit Judge Paul Huey sided with Uber against the Public Transportation Commission, the regulatory agency that argued the rideshare company lacks appropriate background checks, insurance, safety and vehicle inspections required of taxis....

    PTC Chairman Victor Crist says he is shocked by the ruling.
  7. In Tampa Bay, this is what child poverty looks like


    Nearly 1 million Florida children were living in poverty in 2013.

    Ashley Corbett is a single mother raising one of those kids, Jayden, 3. Soon she will have two. The 29-year-old is seven months pregnant with her second child.

    When things get tight, she reaches out to social services. They helped her find two part-time jobs, one at McDonald's, the other at a day care center.

    There, she got 50 percent off. It still wasn't enough....

    Denzel Pulliam cuddles with his grandmother Kimberly Shephard at her apartment in Pinellas Park. Shephard has two children at home and needs help with monthly bills.
  8. HART looks at what bus service would be like with — and without — half-cent tax

    Mass Transit

    TAMPA — Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority board members got a glimpse Monday of what life could be like with — and without — the estimated $30 million in extra revenue that a proposed half-cent sales tax would bring to the county's bus system.

    If the new tax is approved next fall, HART would create six new local bus routes, improve service to MacDill Air Force Base and add nine express routes that would make commuting a more realistic option for those looking to ditch their cars....

  9. Hillsborough regulators ask judge to shut down Uber


    TAMPA — Rideshare company Uber could be forced to stop operating in Hillsborough County if a judge sides with local regulators after a hearing Friday.

    Regulators quarreled with Uber representatives about background checks, insurance, safety and vehicle inspections. The arguments made in the temporary injunction hearing were the same issues that have dominated the discussion since the rideshare company started operating here in April 2014....

  10. Hillsborough's transportation plan to hold 100 more public meetings to get voter input


    TAMPA — Hillsborough leaders said Thursday that they won't put the proposed half-cent transportation sales tax on the 2016 ballot without getting more public input on what kind of roadway and transit projects voters actually want.

    Does 100 public meetings over two months sound like enough voter input?

    The policy leadership group, a collection of county and city officials, has already spent two years trying to craft a transportation plan that they hope will entice voters. They've spent $1 million on consultants and conducted 36 public meetings this spring, in addition to a poll and online outreach....

  11. Hillsborough gets $28.5 million from BP settlement


    TAMPA — Hillsborough County became the latest Tampa Bay government to prosper from a BP settlement, as commissioners agreed Wednesday to a $28.5 million deal stemming from the disastrous 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

    On Tuesday, Pasco commissioners accepted a $7.4 million settlement. A day earlier, Pinellas commissioners voted unanimously to accept a settlement, but won't say for how much. The county was seeking $9.3 million. ...

  12. Lyft to appeal decision that it is a taxi company


    TAMPA — An attorney for rideshare company Lyft said he plans to appeal a decision that says the company functions like a taxi service and is subject to local cab regulations.

    The ruling Tuesday was part of an ongoing appeals process for tickets that Hillsborough inspectors issued to the company for operating a for-hire service without proper permitting. A hearing officer ruled in May that Lyft is a taxi company and was violating Hillsborough County rules by operating without proper permits....

  13. Defense attorneys ask for jury to not know of victim's well-known drag identity


    TAMPA — Defense attorneys are trying to prevent a jury from hearing that a murder victim was a well-known drag queen in Tampa and South Beach.

    In a trial scheduled to start this morning, attorneys for Deandre Tolliver, accused of murder, will ask that no mention be made of Anthony Jerome Lee's performances at Hamburger Mary's as a drag queen named Wanda.

    Lee, 44, was a regular at the Ybor City restaurant, often appearing on the small stage decked out in a blonde wig and glittery gowns to lip-synch to Whitney Houston....

    Deandre Tolliver is charged with first-degree murder.
  14. Tampa Bay Sierra Club, Tea Party both skeptical of Hillsborough's transportation sales tax plan


    TAMPA — Skepticism about a proposed half-cent sales tax for transportation has members of two polar-opposite groups — the Tampa Bay Sierra Club and Hillsborough County tea party — agreeing with each other.

    Though their reasons might be different, both groups have voiced concerns with the plan, which would ask voters to approve a half-cent sales tax next fall to fund roads and transit....

    TP_339415_WALL_Lee_17 (06/02/2011 Tampa) Hillsborough County Commissioner for district 5, Ken Hagan. [DANIEL WALLACE, Times]
  15. United Airlines computer glitch resolved, but flight delays linger


    TAMPA — All United Airlines flights nationwide were grounded briefly Wednesday morning as the airline dealt with computer issues.

    The stop was lifted by late morning, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, but delays lingered around the country and locally.

    "We're recovering from a network connectivity issue & restoring flight ops," United Airlines said in a tweet. "We'll have a waiver on to change flights."...

    Passengers check in at the United Airlines ticket counter Wednesday morning at Tampa International Airport. Computer glitches grounded many of the airline's flights nationwide. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]