Archive for Transportation

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

HART to sell out

Posted in Hillsborough County, FL, Transportation with tags , , on September 22, 2011 by verbumsapienti2

Full advertising warps for Tampa’s iconic yellow Historic Street cars?

Just what we need, 1-800 Ask Gary streetcars on the covers of Tampa’s tourist guides.

Once you set a price on selling your body, you are a whore, regardless of how much you charge.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

Zombie light-rail: the Choo-Choo of the living dead

Posted in Hillsborough County, FL, Transportation with tags , , , , , on July 15, 2011 by

MPO director Ramond Chiaramonte seems to be more concerned with fixing the broken electioneering campaign that led to last year’s rail tax thumbs-down.

Instead he should be concentrating on where the existing public transportation needs are.

For example, in much of south Hillsborough it can take nearly four hours on weekdays to travel by bus to the VA Hospital in Tampa…ONE way! Forget weekends, when there is no public transportation out of the area.

HART’s Google Transit Maps trip planner tells me that to get to the VA on Saturday or Sunday, I need to start the trip on Friday.

If we are trying to do light-rail as a stimulus to economic development, has anyone asked if there might be a more cost-effective alternative to accomplish that objective, like cleaning up downtown Tampa?

My advice to Mr. Chiaramonte: fix the transit needs, not the transit voters.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

Tampa traffic congestion: a shot in the foot

Posted in Hillsborough County, FL, Transportation with tags , , , , , on January 25, 2011 by verbumsapienti2

Report: Tampa-St. Pete among worst in traffic delays ?

Interestingly enough the 2010 Urban Mobility Report by the Texas Transportation Institute puts Tampa-St. Pete congestion at #25 in yearly delay by auto, while the worst 15 cities all have light-rail systems and still ranked Tampa-St. Pete slightly better than average for the 439 urban areas studied and way down at #89 on Congestion Trends – Wasted Time 1982 to 2009.

The 2011 report puts Tampa at #28.

traffic TampaI agree with HART chief executive David Armijo that investment in public transportation is necessary to reduce area traffic congestion. I question however if the same concern is held by the keepers of the purse strings on the half-cent sales tax increase (CIT) we have been paying into since 1997.

(Oh, but we did get a nice new home for the Bucs out of it though.)

As nearly as I can determine, not one single dollar has come out of the CIT to actually put even one new bus on the road; yet 100 new buses received from grants sit idle in HART parking lots.

How much are we STILL spending on resuscitating the failed Tampa Choo-Choo initiative?

$40 MILLION CIT money is earmarked for yet more studies and future transit planning, but none for today’s transit needs.

We can’t wait for three and five-year plans to tell us what we should be doing today.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

Rabbit out of a hat

Posted in Economic Development, Hillsborough County, FL, Transportation with tags , , , , , on December 8, 2010 by verbumsapienti2

Rabbit out of a hatThere are essentially two kinds of magic:

1. You really pull a rabbit out of an empty hat.

2. You appear to pull a rabbit out of an empty hat.

One kind of magic doesn’t exist and the other is simply an illusion.

What kind of magic does Hillsborough County Chairman Al Higgenbotham plan to use to  pull out of the “no new taxes” hat, both a Choo-Choo for Tampa AND a new ballpark?

The suspense is building.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

What’s next for transit plan?

Posted in Hillsborough County, FL, Transportation with tags , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2010 by

The Tampa Tribune’s VIEWS page on Nov. 14, 2010 included a piece by Gary “Special Correspondent” Sasso, who heads up the downtown lobby group Moving Hillsborough Forward. Notably, he says that a majority of voters in the City of Tampa voted to approve for themselves a neighborhood Choo-Choo.

Sasso is grousing that the rest of Hillsborough County didn’t want to pay for it. Oh, some roads and needed improvements to bus service were included, but in light of the County’s handling of these two things, few believed they would, or could handle light-rail also.

Sasso, talks about economic development for Tampa along the proposed rail routes, but says nothing about actually moving people from one place to another. 

The County says that improved public transportation is an urgent issue, yet of the nearly $4.7 BILLION that the last sales tax increase was to have raised, only $1.3 Million has been spent to improve bus service. That is less than one-third of one percent.

By comparison,  $290 million went to build the Raymond James Stadium. Does anyone still remember what it was like to watch the Buchaneers play?

 Also, this half-penny Community Investment Tax (CIT) tax we have been paying since 1997, and will continue to pay through 2027, was to also pay for roads. Much of the road money went to Tampa, yet here they are, asking for twice that to again mostly benefit Tampa. 

Sasso is barking up the wrong money tree.

If he can raise one and a half million dollars to increase county taxes, he should be able to raise enough money to increase Tampa taxes.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

Time to get back to Plan A

Posted in Hillsborough County, FL, Transportation with tags , , , , on November 6, 2010 by

Bogota BRTToday’s Tampa Tribune opinion page carried the view that “On transit, it’s time for plan B.” How about getting back to what was HART’s Plan A in the first place?

Of the $4 BILLION generated by the CIT half-penny tax, fully 99% has been diverted to non-transit projects. Of the $40, MILLION finally allocated to HART, only $1.3 million has been spent, and that on transit planning for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

HART may even be faced with returning the unused money.

How much of the defeated light-rail plan was designed to increase commercial  property values in Tampa instead of moving people from one place to another?

BRT has been very succesful in Bogotá, Columbia, moving over a million riders daily; reducing pollution, traffic congestion and enabling safe commuter bicycling.

BRT is designed to move people quickly, safely and at an affordable cost. Now maybe we can get on with what was HART’s “Plan A” in the first place: BRT.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

Tampa is like a Little Los Angeles in the making.

Posted in Hillsborough County, FL, Transportation with tags , , , , , , , on November 5, 2010 by

But we could be a Little Bogotá in the making.

A great video on BRT in Bogotá makes Hillsborough look like a 3rd world country:

An interesting study by the RAND Corporation on the city of Los Angeles, California has some things to say that might also get Tampa further down the road to relieving congestion.

None of the suggestions say to build light-rail.

Plain Old Bus (POB) and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) hold
the most cost-effective promise.

A key finding from the RAND Corporation study is that strategies that rely on pricing to manage the demand for driving—e.g., by charging more for driving and parking during peak hours in the most congested locations—are extremely effective in producing sustainable reductions in congestion. 

Pricing strategies lead to more-efficient use of existing road capacity and can raise substantial revenues to fund needed transportation improvements.

Entire Study:

 The recommendations:

  • Install curbside parking meters that charge more during peak business hours for parking in congested commercial and retail districts.
  • Implement local fuel tax levies at the county level to raise transportation funds.
  • Develop a network of high-occupancy/toll lanes on freeways throughout Los Angeles County.
  • Evaluate the potential for implementing tolls on those entering major activity centers, like those that exist in London and Singapore.
  • Expand rapid bus transit with bus-only lanes on arterial streets and express freeway service in the high-occupancy/toll lanes.
  • Offer and aggressively market deeply discounted transit passes to employers, who would purchase passes for all employees, allowing those who commute by transit to ride at reduced cost.
  • Develop an integrated, region-wide network of bicycle pathways.
  • Restrict curb parking on busy arterial streets.
  • Convert selected major surface streets to one-way streets.
  • Prioritize and fund investments in upgraded signal timing and control.
  • Bolster outreach efforts to assist businesses in promoting ridesharing programs, telecommuting and flexible work schedules.
  • Evaluate the costs and benefits of implementing a regional incident management system on the arterial streets to reduce congestion caused by traffic accidents.

Some of this stuff we can figure out now,
Some will need to wait until 2012 when we get the rest of it figured out.

But what it appears is that if the number one reason to have public transit is to move people around from one place to another within the count;, we don’t need the light-rail system first proposed 20 years ago.

Regional light-rail connecting surrounding communities might make more sense.
TBARTA should be the driver, not HART.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen


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