Note to Hillsborough BOCC

Tampa rail bus transportationA re-look into funding transit starts with what you all expect the goal of transit to be.

A goal to increase property values along a transportation route is quite different than wanting to help move people between home and jobs.

Do we “need” rail for ED/TOD if BRT better serves the riders at much less cost?

But you first have to ask yourselves, if transportation is so important, why has not a single bus been put on the road from the CIT money?

The Penny-Tax failed because there was a disproportionate cost/benefit ratio among the various taxpayers.

Someone living in rural Hillsborough County would not have received a proportional benefit as would the owner of a city block adjacent to a new rail station.

First determine who benefits, how much and why from any transit enhancements, and fund it accordingly.

If the City of Tampa has the most to gain, the city should pay more than the rest of the county.

Tampa business and property owners have the most to gain; unincorporated Hillsborough has the most to lose. If enhanced transportation makes ED or TOD more attractive in Tampa, it must come out of the loss in attractiveness elsewhere in the county.

If the riders of transit value the enhancements, they should pay for that value and it shouldn’t be “subsidized” by non-riders, especially for rail that is too distant for most taxpayers to use. Government subsidies are notoriously inefficient because few public employees who administer the public money have any real sense that this is THEIR money. Just like when we seem to think that Federal grants are “free” money, forgetting that we also pay Federal taxes. Ask the State of Florida if they have any spare change to help fund this.

Protest if you will the feelings in unincorporated Hillsborough that “rail” has been a foregone conclusion from the start; but you have to deal with it. It doesn’t play well to hear that Tampa citizens  need a shiny new train because they will refuse to ride a stinky bus, and then go on to say that taxpayers in unincorporated Hillsborough will be “well served” by (stinky) buses. Remember, the BOCC is charged with administering the entire county of Hillsborough, and not favor the City of Tampa. That is why Tampa incorporated, to deal (mostly) independently with their own civic needs.

So then, next steps:  work up some pie charts.

One, to determine what segments of the community would benefit from what transportation enhancements and to what degree.

Two, to determine what sources of revenue are appropriate to each of those segments.

If the proportionate benefits do not come close to equaling the proportionate costs for those segments, you will fail once again to get much widespread support.

Include in your calculations the TOTAL costs of transit: building, operating, maintenance AND replacement costs (everything wears out eventually).

You will be woofing up the wrong tree if you start to think that extending the CIT uniformly across the county will get any more support than the failed penny-tax.


Fred Jacobsen


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