Benjamin Limmer just finished his first week as the new CEO of HART, Hillsborough County's public bus agency. He's on a listening tour to hear what the public has to say about the area's mass transit woes. He tells WUSF's Steve Newborn that years of cutbacks are about to be a memory, courtesy of a recently-passed sales tax referendum will pour money into the system.
Limmer says the first thing HART will do is reverse the cutbacks of the past several years, now that money is expected to flow into the system through Hillsborough County's recently-passed one-cent sales tax referendum
Limmer says the time is ripe to build on the foundation of coooperation that has been started between the various transit agencies in the Tampa Bay area. That could mean bus rapid transit - which is being planned to connect Wesley Chapel in Pasco County with downtown Tampa and across the Howard Frankland Bridge to Pinellas County - or maybe light rail sometime in the future.
"HART, PSTA (Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority) and the other transit providers in the Tampa Bay region already collaborate and coordinate on several items," he said, "so the foundation is there, it's very strong, and we're looking for futher collaboration. I couldn't be more optimistic."
Limmer has been on a listening tour to hear what commuters want to see in the near future. He plans to use his past experience as assistant general manager at MARTA, which serves metropolitan Atlanta.
Before joining MARTA, Limmer held transit leadership positions at the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and the City of Atlanta, Valley Metro in Phoenix, Arizona and the Regional Transit Authority in Cleveland, Ohio.