I am writing in response to your editorial “Searching for common ground” (Our Views, May 16): The Public Transportation Commission is an evolving, responsive authority charged with advancing public safety while ensuring a level playing field within the industry. The PTC is working with representatives of the companies Uber and Lyft on ways to successfully operate within the rules and regulations in Hillsborough County. Our primary concern is the safety of the riding public.
The new and improved PTC of today is not the old and troubled PTC of yesterday. Today the concerns of outside special interests are unfounded. There have been many changes in this organization. In fact, there is a new board, new director, new staff, new guidelines, rules and policies. Accordingly, the PTC has significantly improved day-to-day business operations, transparency, accountability and continues protecting consumers. An independent audit and organizational assessment have been completed. The board and staff are working diligently to follow up on recommendations for agency-wide improvements. A new finance committee has been established to provide greater oversight by the board. A new policy and procedure committee has been established to ensure the PTC remains receptive to the industries we regulate and the riding public we serve.
The PTC is a free-standing, independent authority subject to rules, regulations and safeguards, including Florida Ethics laws, the Sunshine Law and open-records law. The board is a representative body comprised of elected officials from Plant City, Tampa and Temple Terrace along with three Hillsborough County Commissioners. Hillsborough County provides legal counsel, finance management and other technical support on an as-needed basis. Consumers and the community should now have full confidence in the ethical expertise and ability of this authority’s competent and hard-working board and staff.
The county or any other agency could not easily absorb the responsibility of the PTC. County and city leaders have stated they do not want the responsibility of running the services provided. The state created this free-standing authority to reduce duplication and bureaucracy while providing necessary consumer protection. Burying its functions in county government may lead to less transparency and reduce accountability. Bigger government is not better government.
The writer is a Hillsborough County commissioner and chairman of the Public Transportation Commission.