CUTR Think Tank

CUTR (Center for Urban Transportation at the University of South Florida) makes a compelling argument to study county-wide alternative transportation solutions before we plunge ahead with a so-called rail tax program that even if successful, largely benefits only the incorporated city of Tampa; not the majority of unincorporated Hillsborough County and especially not the South County.

 

For about the expense of an additional cost/benefit rail study, a “simulated” rail system could be tested along proposed routes and schedules using specially designated buses. That way, empirical ridership data could be obtained and more accurate cost estimates could be calculated for a potential light-rail version. The trial could even be funded by wrapping each rail-bus in advertising.

 

A lurking rail bias might skew the results however as most people find the concept of light-rail sexier than a public bus system: no matter that few will ultimately ride either unless the ride itself is more Disney than HART.

 

The final kicker here is that if the simulation shows that sufficient ridership exists in a Tampa-centric system, the cost of serving that ridership by bus will certainly be lower than the cost of light-rail. The savings alone in using bus rather than rail could fund a more comprehensive bus transportation system that also included South Hillsborough County. If the city of Tampa wants a Tampa-only rail system, let the good citizens of Tampa tax themselves for the entire cost, and not expect residents of Sun City Center to contribute to the cost while getting little benefit in return.

 <IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

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