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HART CEO Katharine Eagan nominated for White House ‘Champion of Change’ program

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Katharine Eagan, the CEO of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit agency (HART), has been nominated for the White House “Champion of Change” program in the category focused on “Beyond Traffic: Innovators in Transportation.” Eagan announced the nomination at the conclusion of HART’s Finance, Governance and Legislative Committee meeting on Monday.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s website, those individuals who will be chosen “have provided exemplary leadership in advancing transportation and leading change that benefits our nation’s transportation system for decades to come at the local, regional and/or national levels.” It goes on to say that such innovators will be considered for their work in improving the mobility of people, the mobility of freight, and “overarching strategies for enhancing our transportation system for moving things better.”

There will be a White House ceremony in mid-October for those who are named as a “champion of change.” Winners will be contacted in late September.

“I’m honored to be considered for this award, which recognizes the efforts of the entire HART team to deliver next generation transit solutions in Hillsborough County,” Eagan said in a statement on Tuesday. “Our communities have diverse transit needs and innovative solutions let us provide local answers to specific concerns.”

Also at the agency’s meeting on Monday, Eagan discussed HART’s top federal and state legislative priorities and strategies for the next year, which included four categories.

They are:

1 – Regional Revenue Collection and Inter-Jurisdictional Mobility Project — This has been a favorite project for the agency for years. It would create a seamless mechanism for fare box recovery for seven counties, from Citrus to Polk to Pinellas and Pasco. The total cost of the project is $12.6 million

2 – The First Mile, Last Mile program — HART officials have discussed this over the past year — how to make transit more seamless for getting to and from a bus destination. They’ve been talking about working with ridesharing services Uber and Lyft, but that obviously comes into conflict with the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, which has declared both companies’ operations in the county illegal.

The board says they’re behind Tampa Bay area state Sen. Jeff Brandes’ proposal to reform the PTC, though Brandes has yet to spell out what that might actually be. In the past, Brandes has tried to eliminate the agency outright. He says he’s not going to attempt that again, but perhaps will craft a bill that takes the jurisdiction of Uber and Lyft away from the PTC.

3 – CNG Rebate bill – A proposal to seek more than $16 million to purchase 53 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Fueled Vehicles.

4 – East/West MetroRapid BRT Construction

EAST/WEST MetroRapid Bus Rapid Transit Construction

HART has completed the Project Development & Environmental (PD&E) study and 30 percent design for its next MetroRapid corridor, connecting Temple Terrace and eastern Hillsborough County to Tampa International Airport. To complete this project, HART is seeking $21,200,000 for construction and capital investments and $8,750,000 for CNG buses to support the new route.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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