Archive for the Transportation Category

Tampa Choo-Choo in the news

Posted in Hillsborough County, FL, Transportation with tags , , , , on June 7, 2013 by

“The push for rail is not about relieving congestion or getting people from point A to point B, but is rather about developing high-density communities that qualify for HUD affordable housing grants, EPA grants for supposedly improving air quality, Department of Transportation funds for mass transit, and Department of Energy grants for supposedly reducing dependence on oil”

Read the article

Hillsborough mobility to nowhere

Posted in Economic Development, Hillsborough County, FL, Transportation with tags , , , , on March 12, 2012 by verbumsapienti2


To paraphrase a line from Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky, “…shun the frumious Bonder-snatch!”

How is it that “bonding” is so often proposed as a municipal funding source that supposedly does not raise taxes?

Selling bonds to pay for road construction is like charging home remolding to your credit card.

You get what you want now without waiting and you pay it back with future earnings; but the interest payments reduce your spendable income.

As we’ve seen with reduced county income from property and sales taxes, painful budget cuts have to come from somewhere else.

Hillsborough County is already nearly a BILLION dollars in debt in bond obligations, with crippling interest payments.

 Apart from the get-it-now-pay-for-it-later fantasy world we get to live in, who benefits from municipal bonding?

There are the attorneys who actually create the tax-free bonds that are sold by brokers to investors who re-sell them to someone looking for somewhere better than a bank to park their excess money.

Everyone along the line makes a profit, with the end bondholder receiving taxpayer money with no obligation to pay any income taxes.

 Perhaps instead of borrowing money to pay for new roads out to the hinterlands, we should give incentives to employers who build businesses near where people live, and incentives for home builders who build near employment centers?

That way, as we learn to pay as we go, we could also pay off the County debt and use the saved interest payments for something useful, like more buses that run on solar and clean natural gas.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

Fourth strike for Hagan

Posted in Economic Development, Hillsborough County, FL, Politics, taxes, Transportation with tags , , , , , on March 4, 2012 by verbumsapienti2

Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan is batting zero in his attempts at hitting a task force home run.

His Transportation Task Force was formed to recommend a Choo-Choo for Tampa.

His I-4 Task Force was formed to recommend paving over east county farmlands at taxpayer expense.

His Economic Development Taskforce was formed to recommend tax breaks for Bass Pro Shop.

Now he wants an Economic Prosperity Stakeholders Task Force formed to recommend taxpayers footing the bills for new roads, sewers, water, and fire and police services in order to “attract new business”.

 All these task forces have simply cost taxpayers a ton of money in outside consultants’ fees.

To paraphrases a line from the movie Blazing Saddles: “We don’t need no stinking task forces.”

Commissioner Sandra Murman didn’t need a task force to start a very successful incentive program to encourage the actual creation of new jobs.

But then maybe we should save Hagan the time, expense and embarrassment of another failed task force and just give him a walk on this one?

After all, according to Hagan, with all the tax and fee cuts already approved by the BOCC over the past few years, The County isn’t bringing in much money from new businesses anyway, so what’s to lose?

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

Pony first; cart after

Posted in Economic Development, Hillsborough County, FL, taxes, Transportation with tags , , , , , , on March 4, 2012 by

Don’t blame over-burdened, under-employed Hillsborough County residents for the lack of infrastructure in downtown Tampa.

The first to benefit would be downtown businesses and land owners; they should be the first to pony up.

They are the private part of public/private partnerships still sitting on the sidelines waiting for the taxpaying public to load the carts for them.

Once the promised high-wage, good-benefit, full-time jobs materialize, the newly employed will shop, eat, play and live downtown.

Their taxes will then also help fund teachers, police, firefighters and public works.

Pony first; cart after.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

Streetcar named Dunce

Posted in Hillsborough County, FL, Transportation with tags , , , on February 14, 2012 by verbumsapienti2

It is sad indeed that it took a Tampa city audit of the TECO Line Streetcar System to uncover that there has been no provisions made for rehabilitating infrastructure such as tracks and passenger stations.

This is like budgeting money only for oil changes on your own car, but failing to save up for the eventual down payment needed when it comes time to buying a new car.

A similar comprehensive audit of the failed Tampa Choo-Choo would have uncovered the same accounting shenanigans.

Nowhere during the run-up to the November 2011 referendum did HART or The County present light-rail infrastructure replacement costs.

Ignored was the reality that nothing lasts forever.

Over a 30 year period ALL of the rails, rolling stock and stations would have to have been replaced.

It would have been more honest for our elected officials to at least admit that they did not consider long-term costs because they wouldn’t still be in office then anyway.

Let us hope that the next round of career politicians who propose light-rail for Hillsborough think not just about re-election, but also think of the financial impacts to our children’s children.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

Rays on rail?

Posted in Ballpark, Economic Development, Hillsborough County, FL, Transportation with tags , , , on January 23, 2012 by verbumsapienti2

Training wheels for Tampa Choo-ChooDid Mike Sasso (Tampa Tribune Jan. 23, 2012) ask San Diego Metropolitan Transit what it did to their budget when the Padres moved from the mixed-use QUALCOMM stadium they shared with the Chargers, to a new ballpark in downtown San Diego?

And…the Chargers are still talking about also moving out; leaving that stadium mostly unused, but with a terrific, light-rail station.

Maybe the seven West Central Florida counties that make up the focus of TBARTA’s Master Plan should get together with The Rays to determine the most economically advantageous location FOR EVERYONE for a new ballpark?

U.S. 41, 19 and 301 are looking pretty good, and there is lots of cheap land available. People commute on I-75, 275 and 589, but they don’t live, shop, work or go to school there.

Forget I-4, (not a true “interstate” anyway) which is only good for trips to visit The Mouse.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

Good idea, but for….

Posted in Transportation with tags , , , , , on January 17, 2012 by verbumsapienti2

Before the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority gets too giddy and all self-congratulatory about spending $4 million of our tax dollars to “discover” the freight rail corridor that runs between downtown Clearwater and Tropicana Field; did anyone spend $1.98 to get CSX on the phone and ask if they would be interested in even talking about any light-rail use of their right-of-way?

The County might have better luck getting Fred Marquis to support putting tracks back on his Pinellas Trail.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

Feds tell Mayor Bob to take a hike; without a Riverwalk

Posted in Economic Development, Hillsborough County, FL, Transportation with tags , , , on December 20, 2011 by verbumsapienti2

What does it look like when the Federal Government “reins-in’ uncontrolled spending?

It looks like Mayor Bob walking home hat-in-hand without ten million dollars of federal transportation money to build a section of Riverwalk in downtown Tampa.

Plan “B”? Use $810,000 in gas tax proceeds.

To my understanding, there are three reasons to have a gas tax:
1. To encourage motorists to drive less by making gas more expensive.
2. To build and maintain roadways for cars.
3. To fund alternative transportation modes to help reduce traffic congestion and pollution.

So the question becomes, how many people are going to use the Riverwalk as an alternative to driving?

If Riverwalk is not about transportation, it should instead be funded by either a tourist tax or a tax on the increased values of surrounding properties.

In other words, “Them who gets, pays”.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

Feasible Ferry?

Posted in Alternative Energy, Economic Development, Hillsborough County, FL, Transportation with tags , , , on December 9, 2011 by verbumsapienti2

Tony Jannus flying boatI had to drag out my trusty Webster’s to try to understand how the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) could conclude that a water ferry, restricted to holders of MacDill security passes, was “technically feasible”.

Reviving the Tony Jannus trans-bay flying boat between Tampa and St. Pete is also “technically feasible” in that it can be done, but only so long as you disregard the costs; which make either plan unfeasible.

We already know the answer going into this study: the cost will far out weigh the revenues and county taxpayers will refuse to make up the difference.

The MPO voted to spend ANOTHER half-million tax dollars on further studies only because they consider it free-money from the federal government.

Wait a minute. If it would be a bad idea to spend county money while the county is a billion dollars in debt, why is it a good idea to spend federal money when our country is fifteen trillion dollars in debt?

The dollars may come out of different pockets, but both pockets are mine.

Let democratic free enterprise figure out feasibility.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

New Pinellas hybrid buses

Posted in Alternative Energy, News, Opinion, Transportation with tags , on October 17, 2011 by verbumsapienti2

I sure would have liked to see a more comprehensive analysis of the impact of 8 new hybrid buses coming to Pinellas.

It was not explained in the Tampa Tribune article how replacing 8 older buses with 8 new buses will “increase access to jobs” and “increase ridership”.

How does the $635K cost of each new bus compare to the cost of existing buses, and what are the comparative operating costs over a million-mile lifetime?

Probably the most disturbing thing in the article is that the buses will be made in California. At least they are not being made in China, but why are there seemingly no bus manufactures in Florida; say in Pinellas or Hillsborough?

Most buses are just assembled from parts manufactured in different factories anyway.

We should at least have an assembly plant in Tampa Bay for Tampa Bay buses.

Now that would be a civic improvement project to get behind.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen


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