Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Celebrating the Women of HART!

HART celebrates the Women of HART!
In honor of Women's History Month, the HART is featuring the women of our agency by showcasing their views about the role of women in transit and what advice they have for younger women in our industry. Women in transit have unique perspectives and talents, and we're honored to share their voice throughout the month of March.

"HART believes that a diversified workforce is the key to a strong future," said HART Interim CEO, Jeff Seward. "We have some incredible women employed across the ranks at HART, and it's their unique viewpoints and invaluable insights that have only strengthened the organization and improved services. I hope you'll join me in honoring our women not only through the month of March, but all year long."

You can read some of their comments below to learn what Women's History Month means to them, what makes HART a great place to work, and their experience as a women in the transit industry.

What is the most exciting thing about being a woman in the transit industry today?

Connie Cosme - TECO Line Streetcar Motorwoman
"Working with all the men and being the only women for quite some time. It has had its challenges, but I've stuck it out. I keep the men in check."

- Connie Cosme, TECO Line Streetcar Motorwoman 

"Seeing the growth of woman in the industry. We've seen so many changes for women in key roles."

- Ruthie Reyes Burckard, HART Chief Operating Officer - 16 years

What does Women's History Month mean to you?

Latisha Jones - HART Van Operator
"I see Women's History month as a dedicated period for the celebration of women's achievements and contributions, but my first thought is women have come a long way from being a voice in society, to becoming extraordinary, educated and prominent women in society. I look at women in transit who helped shape the transit industry, like Sarah B. Owens and Sarah Grayson both African-American women who paved the way for women like me."

- Latisha Jones, HART Van Operator - 5 years

What's the best piece of professional advice that you've given other women?

Delores Chatman - HART Bus Operator
"Be yourself. The world looks at you and they see who you are. You don't have to play games with them or anything like that. Be yourself. Be respectful and be yourself."

- Delores Chatman, HART Bus Operator - 14 years

"You will learn to respect every entity of what you supervised because you once did it. All you need is a good education, good experience and number one great personality. "

- Latisha Jones, HART Van Operator - 5 years

Kenyatta Lee - HART CAO (RIGHT)
"Just make sure that you're the best that you can be, in anything that you strive to do. Take those opportunities to actually advance yourself to learn more."

- Kenyatta Lee, HART Chief Administrative Officer and Interim Chief of Staff - 1 ½ years 

What do you think makes HART a great place to work?

Ruthie Reyes Burckard - HART COO
"The opportunities that we present to employees internally. We do a lot of hiring from within and promoting up. So for me, the opportunities that have been shown to me, and afforded to me, really give me a different perspective throughout the different jobs that I've done."

- Ruthie Reyes Burckard, HART Chief Operating Officer - 16 years

"It's always been the people for me here. It's pretty good being able to meet people from all over, and HART has given me that opportunity to work with them. Pretty neat, and it's definitely different on my resume."

- Connie Cosme, TECO Line Streetcar Motorwoman  - 15 ½ years

HART believes that having strong women representation in its workforce sets a good example for other organizations and industries. Women in different positions throughout the agency, sets a stellar example to encourage and inspire the up-and-coming generation of young women to follow their career dreams and also help lead the world forward.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Women of HART: Connie Cosme

Ms. Cosme on #429, the car she operated at the Grand Opening
Meet Connie Cosme. She has worked at HART as a TECO Line Streetcar motorwoman for over 15 years. 

Ms. Cosme's tenure at HART actually PREDATES the current TECO Line Streetcar. She was a part of the original crew of motorpersons when the system launched on Oct. 19, 2002.

"I met a lady that day (the Grand Opening) that came up to me and told me 'I did a great job.'" Ms. Cosme said. "Turns out, the woman was a motorwoman for the original Tampa streetcar system, while the men were away at war (World War II)."

Fast forward almost 16 years later, and Ms. Cosme is our most decorated motorperson!

Ms. Cosme receiving her Million Mile Award in 2016!
She is the FIRST streetcar motorperson to be awarded with a Million Miles award! The Million Miles award recognizes a commitment to safety, and great driving skills. It takes roughly 14 YEARS of driving without a preventable accident, to achieve this recognition. Our riders are precious cargo!

Ms. Cosme says that while it's "different" being a woman in a male-dominated profession, she likes it and "keeps the men in check."

The thing she likes the most about her job is the people.

"I love being able to take seniors back in time to when they were younger (when the streetcar was only 5¢). I love meeting people from all over and seeing the sparkle in a kid's eye when they board the Streetcar."

Connie, our Streetcar Wonder Woman!

Ms. Cosme back in 2003

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Join the Flock: HART Needs Flamingo Fares Testers!

Join the flock - we need Flamingo Fares Testers!
Flamingo Fares continues to take flight!

HART and PSTA are currently seeking the public's help in beta testing Flamingo Fares, our new mobile ticketing app and smartcard system, before we release it to the general public later this year.

HART and PSTA, along with transit systems in Pasco, Sarasota, and Hernando counties are adopting Flamingo Fares as the regional fare collection system, which will allow riders to use a single payment method for travel on/between any of the participating transit systems.

Recruitment for the testing phase is now open and will run through mid-April. Hillsborough and Pinellas counties are each seeking 200 participants interested in testing the phone app and smartcard. Interested participants can apply at either or, depending on the county in which they primarily ride. Selected participants will receive an email within two weeks of submitting their application with instructions and next steps.

Flamingo Fares has been in pilot testing (with limited fares) since 2016.

Fare Capping

A new feature that will launch with Flamingo Fares later this year is fare capping.

Fare-capping provides a "fairer" way to pay, with "pay-as-you-go" pricing!

For example, instead of a purchasing a 31-day pass upfront, once you ridden HART enough to "earn" a 31-day pass, you won't be charged the rest of the month! Take advantage of the financial benefit of purchasing a 31-day pass - without the upfront cost!

Check out the video below for more information on how fare capping works.

Our initial testing group will provide our teams with valuable insight and feedback to ensure a smooth deployment once the service launches later this year.

For more information on Flamingo Fares, click here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Women of HART: Zemmie Jones

In celebration of March as Women's History Month, we're shining the light on the fantastic women that make up HART! First up is Zemmie Jones.

Ms. Jones has worked at HART for almost 18 years as a Maintenance Attendant.

Growing up in Waynesboro, GA, Ms. Jones says she always found inspiration from her grandmother.

"My grandmother taught me that if I worked hard, I could be anything that I wanted to be. She always told me to keep a good heart."

And in Ms. Jones, that heart shines through at HART.

Volunteering with HART co-workers for Paint Your Heart Out, the HART Wellness program, Annual Regional Roadeo, etc., she is a busy woman.

In addition to her community and HART participation, Ms. Jones is a mother to one son, 2 granddaughters and 3 grandsons.

One of her granddaughters is graduating in the spring.

"It's important to go to school and get your education. Young woman especially, have to fight for respect, and need an education to make something of themselves. Once you get your education, the sky is the limit." says Ms. Jones.

Something tells us that just like her grandmother before her, Zemmie is the inspiration to the younger generation of women in her family.

Fun, Food, and Fierce Competition at 2018 HART/PSTA Regional Bus Roadeo

HART and PSTA held the annual Regional Roadeo last weekend at the HART Operations and Maintenance Facility. Bus and van operators from HART and PSTA, as well as, two teams of PSTA mechanics showcased their driving and vehicle maintenance skills. 

"I am proud of all our drivers who participated in the HART and PSTA Regional Bus Roadeo," said HART Chief Operating Officer Ruthie Reyes Burckard. "Their participation is voluntary and demonstrates their commitment to safety and strengthening their skills."
More than 29 operators were judged on a rigid, scored course, consisting of 11 different obstacles. Operators were evaluated on 16 criteria including a pre-trip inspection of their vehicle, uniform compliance, 11 different driving challenges, smoothness of operation, and safety habits - all on a timed course. The van operators competition consisted of the same obstacle course and also included a wheelchair deployment following ADA protocol as part of their criteria. The 6 PSTA maintenance technicians were tasked with finding preset defects on six modules including air conditioning, powertrain, and more. Participants also had to conduct a vehicle inspection to locate pre-set defects that would render the vehicle inoperable and/or unsafe.

Operators were judged on 11 different obstacles
Joining these competitors were approximately 75 employees and vendors from both agencies who volunteered as judges and assessed contestants driving skills, knowledge of safety rules, time performance and maintenance skills. First place finishers advanced to the State competition held in Daytona Beach on April 27 and could advance to the 2018 APTA International Bus Roadeo hosted jointly by HART and PSTA at the PSTA Operations facility in St. Petersburg on May 6, 2018.


HART - Bus Operators - Top 3

  • 1st Place - Guardionex Falero-Ramos - Fourth Roadeo; two 2nd Place and one 3rd Place finishes
  • 2nd Place - Maged Botros - First Roadeo
  • 3rd Place - Eric McKethan - Fourth Roadeo; one top 10, and two first place finishes
  • 1st Place - Alfred Patterson - Third Roadeo; first top 5 finish
  • 2nd Place - LaShawn Vickers - First Roadeo
  • 3rd Place - Francisco Guerrero - First Roadeo


PSTA winners
  • 1st Place -Nehemia Guerra
  • 2nd Place - Randy Pinto
  • 3rd Place - Jose Colindres


  • 1st Place - Tyler Johnson, Bobby Farris, and Paul Levesque
  • 2nd Place - Derrick Brown, Zach Hulet, and Tim Sandmeyer

Fun was had by all!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

From the Bus Line to the Starting Line: HART Runs the Gasparilla Distance Classic

Team HART at the PGDC on Saturday!
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is much easier when you have support, which usually comes in the form of friends and family. However, HART is taking on the role of supporter, motivator and encourager when it comes to employees and their health.

Nearly 50 HART employees participated in different race events during this year’s Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic (PGDC) last weekend.

HART employees who participated in last weekend’s PGDC ranged from every level of the organization, including senior level leadership. All these wonderful employees have a special story to share of how their lives have been transformed as a result of the health and wellness tools and opportunities afforded to them as HART employees.

HART takes their employees’ health seriously and a few years back implemented an agency-wide wellness program to both challenge and reward those individuals who adopt healthy habits.

As part of the HART Wellness Program, the agency works to bring employees together and engage in becoming healthier and happier at work and home. It annually provides opportunities for employees to earn wellness incentives through participation in wellness-related activities, such as the PGDC, with the purpose of recognizing and rewarding active employees who practice healthy behaviors and those who wish to make improvements.  Activities such as wellness exams, biometric screenings, health risk assessments and tracking physical activity, can earn an employee up to 4,000 points to purchase items in the "wellness store" in October.
HART CAO Kenyatta Lee participating in the PGDC

One reason employees may be embracing the wellness culture is the support received from the top. HART Chief Administrative Officer Kenyatta Lee encourages employees to participate in the wellness program with this message:

“Take the time to invest in your health, both physical and mental, enjoy the benefits that well-being will provide you…You are the lifeline of this company, and with your well-being, HART will enjoy healthy growth as well.”

The authority’s efforts are leading the way to make their employees and the Hillsborough County community healthier.

HART Employees Reflect on Black History Month

Throughout the month of February, Black History Month is celebrated each year to honor the contributions and achievements of African Americans, both past and present. HART celebrates Black History Month by supporting its employees, local nonprofit organizations, and members of the community that contribute to the rich heritage of African Americans throughout its service area.
Ronald Watkins - Bus Operator
In observance, we sat down with some employees to reflect on what the month means to them and how they are living their dream.

"I live my dream each day by being a HART Bus Operator," said Watkins. "I love working with people and I enjoy what I do. Growing up in Tampa, as a child I didn't see any Black bus drivers back then. It's significant now that you see more African Americans in the driver's seat. I just feel like that's a part of history in itself, I take every opportunity that comes my way as a chance to represent the dreams of my forefathers."

Ronald Watkins, Bus Operator - 29 years with HART

"I live my dream through the opportunities and experiences that I have been fortunate to have at HART," said Dallas. "When I first started there was not many African Americans in management or supervision. Now we have grown tremendously including myself having gone from floor technician to a supervisor. You have to take advantage of the many growth opportunities at HART."

Lyndon Dallas, Maintenance Supervisor II - 33 years with HART
Jerry Allen - Master Mechanic
"When I first started here there was not that many African American mechanics, supervisors and managers. HART has come a long way." -

Jerry Allen, Master Mechanic - 30 years with HART

HART places great value on diversity, inclusion, and a positive work environment, which are important factors in maintaining a vibrant workforce that produces innovative, customer-focused transit solutions.

HART has been fortunate to have generations of families be part of our team!

One such case is Valencia and Maurice Joyce.

As a 19-year Bus Operator veteran, Valencia Joyce notes her son Maurice saw HART as an opportunity to help others and make a difference in someone's life. The mother-son duo love working with people and are grateful for the many opportunities afforded at HART.

"He loves the fact that he works with people and he really also loves the fact that we have the Paratransit division."

Valencia Joyce, Bus Operator - 19 years with HART
Maurice Joyce - Van Operator
"Being part of the HART has helped me to be like a mentor and giving out advice," said Joyce. "Just being that person that listens to people and helps them feel better. These are the things that make my job a blessing."

Maurice Joyce, Van Operator - 9 years with HART  

The workforce is what makes HART STRONG. UNITED. DIVERSE.