1. Transportation

Two top leaders leave Hillsborough's bus agency weeks after driver's slaying

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority announced the impending departure of two senior executives Wednesday, part of a staff reorganization by the agency's new CEO Ben Limmer. [Times (2017)]
Published Jun. 12

TAMPA — The new CEO of Hillsborough's bus agency announced the departures of two members of his executive team Wednesday, just weeks after a bus driver was killed.

Ben Limmer, who started with the agency on March 25, said he eliminated the position of chief administrative officer, held by Kenyatta Lee, as part of a larger staff reorganization. Separately, chief financial officer Jeff Seward resigned, Limmer said. The two will complete work on major initiatives before they leave.

"There's a lot going on with public transportation in Hillsborough County. …That includes preparing for growth, keeping our operators and customers safe and secure and keeping our transit system up and running," Limmer told the Tampa Bay Times. "These (staff) changes are reflecting the future of HART."

The changes come less than a month after a bus driver for the agency was killed on the job. A passenger slit Thomas Dunn's throat on May 18 while Dunn was driving a route along Nebraska Avenue.


'Now I am afraid.' Hillsborough bus drivers demand more safety precautions after murder

Hillsborough transit agency's new CEO says he is here to listen

Last week, more than 15 drivers spoke to the transit agency's board and demanded safer working conditions in the aftermath of the slaying. They asked the board to install safety shields separating drivers from passengers, to make sure panic buttons are working properly on all the buses and to move video cameras to the front of the bus.

Limmer would not say whether the staff changes were directly related to the safety concerns. But he did tell the Times that he authorized the purchase Wednesday of safety shields to be installed on all 180 buses in the fleet and also the vehicles that operate on the agency's "Flex" routes.

The agency is allocating $1 million for the barriers, which are expected to cost about $5,000 each.

Agency board member and Hillsborough County Commissioner Kimberly Overman said Limmer called her today to inform her of the staff changes. She praised Lee and Seward for their work with the agency, but said recent events show there were safety and management issues that needed to be addressed.

"It was heart-breaking to listen to what employees are pleading for, literally pleading for," Overman said of last week's meeting. "That isn't usually a great indication that there is a great management style that is working."

Limmer said he chose to eliminate the chief administrative officer position so that he could work more closely with the individuals under that role, including safety and security, human resources and legal.

"Ben did tell me, 'I usually don't have (human resources) that close to me, but in this circumstance, it's critically important,' " Overman said. "(Drivers) are on the front line with the public, and we've got to support them and keep them safe as best as we can."

Limmer said he does not have a timeline for when he will hire a new chief financial officer to replace Seward, but he will announce interim leadership roles "very shortly."

Seward joined the bus agency in November 2011. Limmer said he could not disclose specific reasons for Seward's resignation.

Contact Caitlin Johnston at or (727) 893-8779. Follow @cljohnst.


  1. In this Feb. 23, 2015 photo, a car is hauled from a canal in West Palm Beach, Fla. The driver was taken to a local hospital where he died. Palm Beach County has over 300 miles of canals, built to move water. Since 1997, 181 people have drowned in vehicles that ended in canals. (Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post via AP) LANNIS WATERS  |  AP
    Of the nearly 1,100 people nationwide who died from 2013 to 2017 when vehicles went into water, 1 in 6 died in Florida.
  2. Dr. Daniel P. Greenwald, a well-known Tampa plastic surgeon, died on Oct. 5 when his twin-engine plane crashed soon after taking off from Kokomo Municipal Airport in Indiana. Greenwald family | Tim Bath/The Kokomo Tribune via AP
    An employee at the Kokomo Municipal Airport said Dr. Daniel P. Greenwald told him he wanted jet fuel for the Piper Aerostar. A friend says there’s no way he would have knowingly done so.
  3. Rekira Owens, a bus driver with the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, greets officials from behind a newly installed shield as they board a bus Thursday in Tampa. The clear divider is meant to protect drivers from physical assaults after a driver was killed in Tampa this year. CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The two transit agencies took action after a Hillsborough driver was stabbed and killed by a rider earlier this year.
  4. A car on the south side of Cleveland Street at Osceola Avenue on Tuesday in downtown Clearwater. That block of Cleveland Street, which ends at Fort Harrison Avenue, provides 16 short term metered parking spaces, at left and right.
    The change to the new system will be gradual.
  5. The Florida Department of Transportation originally closed the southbound I-275 ramp to northbound I-75 for 10 months to replace the entire bridge deck of the overpass, but it's taken more than a year to complete. A detour was created that will have drivers exit on the US-41 exit to take that road to College Avenue where drivers can get back to I-75.
    When the project originally began on July 29, 2018, the Department of Transportation projected it would take 10 months to complete. A year and change later, some readers don’t see an end date in...
  6. Delta will offer nonstop flights between Tampa and Seattle in March 2020. (Mark Lennihan/Associated Press)
    The daily flights expand Tampa International Airport’s connections to the Pacific coast.
  7. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. TMCCARTY  |  times staff
    Axel R. Figueroa was headed south on U.S. 41 when he left the road, overcorrected and collided with a tree, the Highway Patrol said.
  8. Pinellas County officials are focusing on reducing congestion, improving safety and enhancing transit as they consider more than $400 million in transportation projects. They're also looking at how to pay for it all, and the options include tax increases. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    A sales tax, a property tax and a gas tax are among the options as officials consider a wish list totaling more than $400 million.
  9. Traffic heads west along Interstate 275 (at right) toward the Howard Frankland Bridge in Tampa. TIMES (2017)  |  Elliott, Loren
    Hillsborough Commissioner Pat Kemp was caught in the mess. Now, the state is smoothing the path to I-275.
  10. St. Pete Beach will offer free shuttles to Pass-a-Grille. St. Pete Beach
    The service will replace PSTA buses south of the Don Cesar hotel