HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — HART announced on Thursday that they will be installing driver safety barriers on all HART buses and HARTFlex vans.
"HART has been working with the ATU over the past few weeks to enhance the safety of the driver compartment and implement a solution that works for our employees. I am happy to announce that we have reached an agreement," said HART CEO Ben Limmer. "The safety and security of our employees remains a priority at HART as they serve our customers with the highest level of professionalism."
This comes just two-and-a-half weeks after a HART bus operator was stabbed and killed while behind the wheel.
"Following the senseless passing of one of our own, we voiced our concerns, and would like to thank HART leadership for listening to us," said ATU International Vice President Curtis Howard. "We are working together to take immediate action to ensure that our operator-members are safe and that a tragedy like that never happens again."
This week, HART also let one of their executive leaders go as part of an organizational realignment.
Chief Administrative Officer Kenyatta Lee was let go from her role and her picture was taken down from the HART website. At the same time, HART officials say their Chief Finance Officer Jeff Seward resigned from his position.
They sent this statement Thursday:
"Ms. Lee’s position was eliminated as part of a reorganization/realignment process that began with Mr. Limmer’s arrival in March. The reorganization was put in place to better suit the agency with the expectation of doubling the budget in 2020. The full unveil of the reorganization is expected in two weeks or so. Mr. Seward resigned as CFO."
Passengers in Pinellas think the safety changes should have happened years ago.
"It’s something past due, they should’ve done that years ago. It’s past due," said Waymon Miller Jr. "They sit up there upfront, all of these people sitting behind them they don’t know who they are, they don’t know what they have on them."
HART has allocated $1,000,000 towards the driver safety barrier project with each installed barrier estimated to cost $5,000.