Archive for urban transit

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

Hillsborough mobility to nowhere

Posted in Economic Development, Hillsborough County, FL, Transportation with tags , , , , on March 12, 2012 by verbumsapienti2


To paraphrase a line from Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky, “…shun the frumious Bonder-snatch!”

How is it that “bonding” is so often proposed as a municipal funding source that supposedly does not raise taxes?

Selling bonds to pay for road construction is like charging home remolding to your credit card.

You get what you want now without waiting and you pay it back with future earnings; but the interest payments reduce your spendable income.

As we’ve seen with reduced county income from property and sales taxes, painful budget cuts have to come from somewhere else.

Hillsborough County is already nearly a BILLION dollars in debt in bond obligations, with crippling interest payments.

 Apart from the get-it-now-pay-for-it-later fantasy world we get to live in, who benefits from municipal bonding?

There are the attorneys who actually create the tax-free bonds that are sold by brokers to investors who re-sell them to someone looking for somewhere better than a bank to park their excess money.

Everyone along the line makes a profit, with the end bondholder receiving taxpayer money with no obligation to pay any income taxes.

 Perhaps instead of borrowing money to pay for new roads out to the hinterlands, we should give incentives to employers who build businesses near where people live, and incentives for home builders who build near employment centers?

That way, as we learn to pay as we go, we could also pay off the County debt and use the saved interest payments for something useful, like more buses that run on solar and clean natural gas.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

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

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

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