Transportation ghosts

Ken Hagan came to me in a dream last night as the three ghosts in Charles Dickens’ “Christmas Carol”. 

As the Ghost of Christmas Past, Ken took me to the meeting where someone from the shadows said they wanted a shiny new train for downtown Tampa. Consultants were hired and a Transportation Task Force was formed, led by Hagan, to include road & bus and thence to go out into the great unwashed public and ask them what wonderful transportation goodies they would like to see listed in The Plan; regardless of cost. 

As the Ghost of Christmas Present, Ken showed me The Plan and said that (surprise) there were too many items on the wish list to do all at once. But if the public could be persuaded to vote to approve a “penny referendum” (that would cost hundreds of millions of tax dollars each year) and let the Task Force consultants later decide for the public the What, When and How those items might be accomplished, and in which order, all would be well. 

As the Ghost of Christmas Future, Ken showed me that the consultants had talked the BOCC into bonding-out the tax increase to get the $6 billion needed to more quickly build two downtown Tampa rail lines which were still not finished, were over budget, with neither the state nor the federal government stepping up with tax bail-outs. The debt service on the bonds was more than the penny sales tax increase brought in each year. Road and bus projects were canceled. We saw a hand-scrawled sign over the boarded up entrance to the downtown light rail terminal. It said “For the lack of a real plan, the project was lost and we are broke. Buddy can you spare a dime?”  

Ken said “Oops” and slipped back into obscurity. I woke up. 

Moral: We can’t do much about the past, but if we are going to get the future we want without a big “Oops” waiting for us, we need to take control of the present. Demand a detailed transportation business plan that we can all understand BEFORE we approve a pot-of-money for the consultants to spend for us.

Wake up!

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen 

 

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