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HART committee approves contract for Yellow Cab to provide same-day service for paratransit riders

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A subcommittee with the Hillsborough Area Transit Authority (HART) has approved a contract with Yellow Cab Company of Tampa to provide same-day rides for riders who use their paratransit HARTPlus program that service those with disabilities. Currently, those riders must call a day in advance for such service.

Greg Brackin, director of Operations and Support and ADA officer, informed HART’s Finance, Governance, and Administration Committee on Monday that the such riders will continue to pay the $4 fee they currently are charged, but HART will then pick up the rest of the tab, which will amount to $16 for an eight-mile long trip. If the trip goes beyond eight miles, the customer will be obligated to pay the remainder.

“We’re trying to utilize them for short trips that will free up our regular paratransit service as well,” said Brackin.

The program is being funded through a $150,000 grant obtained from the Florida Department of Transportation, and is scheduled to start on January 1, and last through August of 2016. If the money runs out beforehand, HART CEO Katharine Eagan suggested that there may be budget amendment introduced to keep the program afloat.

“We’re looking at convenience as well as cost containment,” Eagan said after the meeting. “Just giving folks the option on that same if they want to decide to go somewhere that they can.”

Currently, Eagan says, many such riders use the HARTPlus plan to book trips to the grocery store, where in addition to having to set up such a ride the day before, also limits those passengers to traveling with just two grocery bags.

Not an issue in using Yellow Cab, she said.

There are currently 3,400 certified passengers signed up with HARTPlus, and last year combined they took over 100,000 trips.

The new proposal is expected to save HART money in the long run. The measure will come before the entire board next month.

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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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