Archive for Public transport

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


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

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

Streetcar Math

Posted in Alternative Energy, Hillsborough County, FL, Transportation with tags on February 4, 2011 by verbumsapienti2
Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan

What would Ronald Reagan say?

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

It may be that a billion dollars of private development has occurred along the Tampa streetcar route, but to attribute that to the streetcar alone has to be upsetting to all the other economic and business development agencies, departments, chambers and authorities out there, each claiming for themselves full credit for that same billion dollars.

The often heard claim that each $1 invested in “mass” transit returns $6 is ludicrous.

Who gets the 500% profit?

Private sector investors who could make a 500% profit on a sure thing,  would be crazy not to beg, borrow or steal every dollar they could in order to invest in mass transit.

The public sector would likewise be foolish indeed to not invest all of the taxpayers’ money on the assurance that city/county/state
/federal coffers would increase by 500%.

Lastly, if there is a 500% profit to be made from building mass transit, why are taxpayers ALWAYS expected to keep pulling money out of their pockets to subsidize the thing?

Who is putting all that profit into their pockets?

There needs to be a better accounting.

Stop the rhetoric.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

Transit ≠ Rail

Posted in Hillsborough County, FL, Transportation with tags , , , , on November 27, 2010 by verbumsapienti2

We don’t need a multi-county “cheerleading” committee to promote rail, we need a hard-headed group dedicated to developing a cost-effective means of moving people around the region. Could this be TBARTA?

So far, TBARTA, like HART, is considering rail as the only solution to rapid public transportation.
Just about everyone has given up on considering Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

Why? Because 20 years ago Tampa business leaders decided that a shiny new Choo-Choo through their downtown would be great for increasing property values there. Now, 20 years later we have the same group with the same vision of personal profit that an improved bus service they felt would not bring them.

The latest wrinkle in this greedy profit-taking scheme has to do with investing in county-created, tax-exempt, mortgage-backed, GNMA Federal government-guaranteed loans to lower-income, first-time home-buyers which can be turned into securities and which in turn can be bought and sold profitably by investors. There is much money to be siphoned out of the many transactions involved, with no money going to The County.

Worse, The County might miss future  revenues from lost transfer fees each time these mortgages change hands.

What better way to increase the availability of these investment securities  than to have The County buy up distressed housing along proposed rail routes so that developers can build “affordable housing” thereby qualifying hundreds more for these mortgages funded by municipal bonds.

The proposed light-rail system construction, operation and maintenance is almost 100% taxpayer financed. Only a very small percentage comes out of selling tickets to passengers. Compare this to what is already possible in the outside world with Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

Bogotá Columbia has one of the world’s most efficient, cost-effective public transportation systems in the world through extensive use of BRT and feeder buses. The government built only the bus stations, special bus lanes and bus traffic control systems, while private companies own and operate the BRT buses. This is true public/private partnership.

And now, CSX has finally come to the negotiating table over use of their rail right of way. However, putting commuter traffic on freight lines is like putting the cart before the horse. That is, moving people from homes to jobs is not like moving freight in and out of the port. 

Instead of putting transportation between where people work and live, the CSX option would force people to live and work where the tracks are already located. Great for developers. Not so great for taxpayers who have homes, businesses and jobs along existing transportation routes.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

No one is “learning from transit setback”

Posted in Hillsborough County, FL, Transportation with tags , , , , on November 19, 2010 by verbumsapienti2

St. Pete Times Opinion: Learning from transit setback

No one is “learning from transit setback”

ALL of the talk is still about increasing property values in and around downtown Tampa, and not about helping people who really need and actually want to ride public transportation in Hillsborough, let alone in the five-county region. They call it Transit Oriented Development (TOD),
I call it TAMPA Oriented Development.

The last half-penny Hillsborough sales tax increase resulted in NO additional buses put on the roadways to serve the riding public. Over $15 million from various taxing sources however WAS spent on studies and planning for a Tampa Choo-Choo that went nowhere.

Oh, we did also spend nearly $300 million for a home for the Bucs to play; at which few can afford to attend, and no one in the region can watch on TV.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

Get on the bus Gus

Posted in Alternative Energy, Hillsborough County, FL, Transportation with tags , , , , , on November 8, 2010 by
Estacion elevada Suba - Avenida Boyaca.

Bogotá Columbia BRT

The County of Hillsborough and the City of Tampa, along with lawyers, consultants and developers have been working together on a scheme to use county taxpayer money to improve property values around downtown Tampa. They call it Transit Oriented Development (TOD).

We should call it TAMPA Oriented Development.

Why expensive light-rail instead of more cost-effective bus transit?

The consultants and the lobby group Moving Hillsborough Forward determined that light-rail would have a bigger impact on Tampa property values than Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or Plain Old Bus (POB) service. Plus, they found that riders would prefer to vote for a shiny new Choo-Choo than a stinky old bus.

So what was the plan to get riders from outside the corridors to the train stations? POB.

The County has given HART $40 million out of the $4 BILLION raised from the last (CIT) sales tax increase. HART has only spent $1.3 million of it while the rest rots in a bank, and we pay interest on the bonds.

If public transportation was so important to them, Ken Hagan and the Transportation Task Force, why was so little of that tax used? Waiting for light-rail?

Hagan’s Transportation Task Force was all about property-value-enhancing rail for Tampa.
It was never about helping people get from one place to another.

If transportation was the important goal, a better use of our $40 million would have been made, years ago.

Bogotá Columbia has one of the most sophisticated public transit systems in the world, using only BRT and POB. They make Tampa/Hillsborough look like a third-world country.

We need to get off this 20-year old Choo-Choo plan and get on the bus Gus.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen