Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics
Sen. Nick DiCeglie, newly elected to the state’s upper chamber, has filed a bill to repeal the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority, or TBARTA.
The bill (SB 198) calls for the dissolution of TBARTA as well as the discharge or provisions for the organization’s “debts, obligations, and other liabilities.”
It would reallocate TBARTA assets “such that each local general-purpose government represented on the authority’s board receives a distribution generally in proportion to each entity’s contribution to the acquisition of the assets.”
“TBARTA has shifted its focus to a planning agency instead of one focused on actionable and deliverable transportation initiatives, which is why state funding has been vetoed in four of the past five legislative sessions. Now is the time to dissolve TBARTA, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature to do just that,” DiCeglie told Florida Politics.
Jeff Brandes, DiCeglie’s predecessor in the Senate, filed identical bills in the 2021 and 2022 Legislative Sessions also seeking to dissolve TBARTA, telling Florida Politics it was “doing nothing.”
TBARTA oversees regional transit planning in the Tampa Bay area.
“TBARTA is one of the most duplicative entities that we have in Tampa Bay,” Brandes previously said on the Senate floor. “It is essentially the appendix of the transportation planning process, we could cut it out, and nobody would miss it.”
Further complicating TBARTA, Gov. Ron DeSantis twice slashed state funding, cutting $1.5 million last year and the year before.
Prior to those cuts, TBARTA had received $4.8 million from the state, including $1.5 million for staffing.
The Legislature created TBARTA in 2007 to develop a transportation master plan for a seven-county region of West-Central Florida, including Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota counties. Its original name was the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority and had a broad mission. But in practice, the agency has served a limited purpose, including through operation of a regional vanpool.
The Florida Legislature voted to change the transportation in its name to transit and restructured the agency to serve as a regional planning agency to coordinate intercounty plans.