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Tampa Bay Light Rail: Would You Pay?

A new poll suggests taxpayers in several Bay area counties are now willing to pay higher taxes to have mass transit. Do you agree?

Go to Atlanta and you can jump on the MARTA to get where you’re going. Visit San Francisco and there’s the BART standing ready to help you get around. New York City has its subway and Chicago has the “L.”

Commuter rail and extensive mass transit systems are a way of life in most major metropolitan areas in America.

What about Tampa Bay?

Live or visit here and the best you can do to get around without hoofing it is to get a car, call a taxi or hop on a bus (in areas that have bus service at all).

A new poll sponsored by Bay News 9, The Tampa Bay Times and AM 820 News Tampa Bay seems to indicate the winds are changing in favor of the Bay area getting its own commuter light rail system.

While a proposed 1-cent sales tax increase to fund mass transit improvements in Hillsborough was shot down by voters in 2010, the new poll shows growing support for spending public money to improve transit. In fact, 56 percent of respondents to that poll in Hillsborough favored spending public money to bring light rail here. Only 35 percent were against. Nine percent said they didn’t know or were unsure, the Times reported.

The numbers were higher in Pinellas. There 60 percent of poll takers favored spending public money on light rail.

What do you think? Has the time come for light rail in the Tampa Bay area? Would you be willing to pay higher taxes for the service? Do you think there’s a better solution? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Alex January 13, 2013 at 09:29 PM
Oh, Mr. Robinson, that line "If Tampa wants to sit at the big peoples table" It is so true, Tampa for a very long time has thought it is more sophisticated than it is. Don't get me wrong, Tampa is nice, but it really tries to be something it's not. I just despise the statements you mention about how the local leaders go on about "How they have it!" almost like a child yelling at the parents because Bobby has it, why can't we! For the love of God, Let's do some smart planning instead of letting one part of town go to garbage then rapidly build away from it try to spruce things up. I do realise this isn't a Tampa problem, but it's still exasperating none the less!
Alex January 13, 2013 at 09:32 PM
Paul, that's the problem,most of the things you mention don't really improve the lives of those who are profiting from them. I would rather have a sustainable economy that wasn't solely dependent on construction and smart growth than sprawl.
Michael D. January 14, 2013 at 02:12 PM
Alex, The question isn't either or. Sustainable growth and small new market growth are not independently exclusive. You can have both in a well managed area. The problem as you tell by our roads and our governments, well managed is the key. The agrument that the light rail is about chasing the other cities, in some cases might be true. But it doesn't mean that if done properly it wouldn't work. Tampa Bay isn't just Tampa. It's the Tampa Bay area, which is spread out. To say you have to choose between a new Biotech and Light Rail. Is just a fear monigering agrument with no real basis in fact. Now if your agrument is I don't trust the City and County planners for something of this scale then that is a more believiable agrument.
Alex January 14, 2013 at 08:09 PM
You make a good point Mike. Maybe I don't trust city council and all those speial interests who have thier hands in the cookie jar. I know I'll never find the perfect place, but I really don't like Tampa much, and I'm from Detroit, and of course the inside of a septic tank is better than that place. :) I just feel Tampa has to work on a few other priority's first, and sure transportation is one of them. As mentioned, I wasn't crazy about Tampa 20 years ago, I'm sure I won't be too thrilled when it's 5 times the size and millions of people and plenty of crappy low paying jobs to go around.
Michael D. January 14, 2013 at 08:25 PM
Alex, Having lived around USF from 2002-2006, it isn't the best area. So I can see where you are coming from in that regard. For an area that should have a lot to offer, it's pretty barren. I personally am a person that would like to use some "reliable" public transport to go to events like Hockey Games, Concerts, etc. and if there was reliable transport to work I might take that as well. For the most part not to deal with the fustration of traffic. When a 11 mile trip takes 45 minutes to an hour from home to work, could be on a train or bus reading a book. But currently I don't trust the people in power to make it an effective use of city/county dollars. As a professional I need to be at work relatively on time, and I don't trust the current status of public transportation in our area to do that unless I start my trip 2.5 hours early. If done properly I think light rail/monorail/etc... would work great in this area due to the way the population is spread. It is the people who would make the decisions to put it in place that makes it questionable to me.

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