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  • Policy ReviewHillsborough County

    Public Transportation CommissionReport 99-12 November 1999

    Office of Program Policy Analysisand Government Accountabilityan office of the Florida Legislature

  • OPPAGA provides objective, independent, professional analyses of state policies and services to assist the FloridaLegislature in decision-making, to ensure government accountability, and to recommend the best use of publicresources. This project was conducted in accordance with applicable evaluation standards. Copies of this report in printor alternate accessible format may be obtained by telephone (850/488-0021 or 800/531-2477), by FAX (850/487-3804), in person (Claude Pepper Building, Room 312, 111 W. Madison St.), or by mail (OPPAGA Report Production,111 W. Madison St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-1475).

    The Florida Monitor: http://www.oppaga.state.fl.us/

    Project supervised by Julie Ferris (850/487-4256) Project conducted by Nancy Dufoe and Steven Birnholz (850/488-0021)

    http://www.oppaga.state.fl.us

  • 111 West Madison Street n Room 312 n Claude Pepper Building n Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1475850/488-0021 SUNCOM 278-0021 FAX 850/487-3804

    The Florida LegislatureOFFICE OF PROGRAM POLICY ANALYSIS AND

    GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITYJohn W. Turcotte, Director

    November 1999

    The President of the Senate,the Speaker of the House of Representatives,and the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee

    At the request of the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, I have directed that a policyreview be made of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission. Theresults of this review are presented to you in this report. This review was conducted byNancy Dufoe and Steven Birnholz under the supervision of Julie Ferris.

    We wish to express our appreciation to the staff of the Hillsborough County PublicTransportation Commission for their assistance.

    Sincerely,

    John W. TurcotteDirector

  • Table of Contents

    Executive Summary .......................................................................................................................... i

    Chapter 1: Introduction...................................................................................................................1Purpose .............................................................................................................................................1Background......................................................................................................................................1

    Chapter 2: Governance Issues .......................................................................................................5Introduction .....................................................................................................................................5Governance Structure....................................................................................................................6

    Chapter 3: Regulatory Issues ...................................................................................................... 16Introduction .................................................................................................................................. 16Public Safety Regulation............................................................................................................. 16Market Entry Regulation............................................................................................................ 18Recommendations....................................................................................................................... 23

    Appendix A: Vehicles Regulated by the Public Transportation Commission.............. 25

    Appendix B: Bibliography........................................................................................................... 26

    Appendix C: Chapter 189.404, Florida Statutes...................................................................... 28

    Appendix D: Response from the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission ...................................................................... 31

  • i

    Executive Summary

    Hillsborough CountyPublic Transportation Commission

    Purpose ____________________________________The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee directed the Office of ProgramPolicy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) to conduct alimited review of the Hillsborough County Public TransportationCommission because of concerns regarding the commission's operations.This report examines the governance structure of the commission andhow the commission performs its regulatory responsibilities. We alsoidentified policy alternatives to the current governance structure.

    Background ________________________________The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission regulatesthe operation of certain "for-hire" vehicles in Hillsborough County and itsmunicipalities. Vehicles regulated are taxicabs, limousines, vans,handicabs, basic life support ambulances, and wreckers used forgovernment purposes. As of June 1999, the commission had issued 1,302vehicle permits.

    The commission supervises and regulates vehicles and their operators toprotect the traveling public. For this purpose, the commission establishesrules and regulations regarding company, vehicle, and operatorstandards. Commission inspectors enforce these standards. For taxicabs,the commission is also responsible for approving zones, rates, fares, andcharges.

    The commission is composed of seven officials representing HillsboroughCounty and its included municipalities. The county and municipalitieseach appoint member(s) of their elected boards to serve on thecommission for two-year terms. Three members of the commission arefrom the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners; twomembers represent the Tampa City Council; and one member from eachof the Temple Terrace and Plant City city councils serves on thecommission. The commission has seven authorized positions: an

  • Executive Summary

    ii

    executive director, an administrative specialist, a receptionist/secretary,and four inspectors.

    History of the Public Transportation CommissionThe commission has its origins in the Taxicab Commission of the City ofTampa, created by special act in 1947 (Ch. 24921, Laws of Florida). Until1976, Hillsborough County and the municipalities of Tampa, Plant City,and Temple Terrace had their own separate taxicab ordinances, resultingin duplication and jurisdictional problems. To resolve these problemsand create a more centralized system of taxicab regulation, in 1976 theFlorida Legislature authorized the establishment of a countywide taxicabregulatory agency, the Hillsborough County Consolidated TaxicabCommission. In 1982, the Legislature added vans, handicabs, andlimousines to the commission's regulatory scope. To reflect this change,the name of the commission was changed in 1983 to the HillsboroughCounty Public Transportation Commission (Ch. 83-423, Laws of Florida).In 1987-88, the Legislature added basic life support ambulances andgovernment wreckers to the commissions regulatory scope. In 1994, theDepartment of Community Affairs designated the commission as anindependent special district.

    Public Transportation Commission ResourcesTo meet its obligations, the commission has two main sources ofrevenue fees and Hillsborough County subsidies. Most of thecommission's operations are funded through fees charged to thetransportation businesses it regulates. The other main revenue source isHillsborough County. Chapter 83-423, Laws of Florida, requires that thecounty "provide for annual budget review of the Public TransportationCommission and . . . furnish the Public Transportation Commission with apart-time attorney, inspector(s), and a secretary, along with office spaceand equipment, stationary and postage necessary to carry out (its)responsibilities . . ."1 The county also subsidizes the commission if it has abudget deficit at year-end. Over the past three fiscal years, an average of15.7% of the commission's revenues have come from the HillsboroughCounty General Fund.

    1 Maintaining that the words "provide" and "furnish" are ambiguous, Hillsborough County neitherfurnishes nor pays for the Public Transportation Commission's inspectors. To clarify this ambiguity,Hillsborough County and the Public Transportation Commission requested an Attorney General'sopinion in June 1999. Although the Attorney General recently ruled that the Special Act compelsHillsborough County to pay for such services, personnel, and material (AGO 99-47), the county andthe commission have not made a decision regarding the specific implementation of the ruling.

    Regulatory duplicationand jurisdictionalproblems led to thecreation of the PublicTransportationCommission

    The PublicTransportationCommission is fundedby fees andHillsborough Countysubsidies

  • Executive Summary

    iii

    Governance Issues _________________________The Public Transportation Commission is an independent special district.It is unique in that it is the only special district in Florida that regulatesfor-hire vehicles. Although the commission has been designated to be anindependent special district, it is unclear whether the commissioncurrently meets the statutory definition of this type of entity.Furthermore, the commission is not meeting special district accountabilityrequirements, and its lack of contingency funds for extraordinaryexpenses could adversely affect its service delivery to the public.

    We identified two options for improving the governance structure underwhich for-hire vehicle regula