Pheonix CEO of mass transit visits Tampa

04/24/08 Mitch E. Perry
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As the Tampa Bay area ramps up efforts to bring mass transit to the region, the Tampa City Council today hosted the CEO of Valley Metro Rail in Pheonix to discuss how that transit agency built a rail network.

Richard Simonetta provided a Power Point presentation to the Council, reviewing the chronology of referendums that were proposed back as far as 1989. It wasn’t until November 2004 that the area finally had a regional tax that kicked the project off. The first 20 miles of light rail track in the Pheonix area will officially open in December.

Simonetta said that every five years the Auditor General’s office in Arizona will conduct an independent performance audit.

He said there were lots of organization in the community and said he saw some of the same types of groups involved in the Tampa Bay area.

Simonetta said Valley Metro Rail's entire mass transit project is slate to cost $1.4-billion. He said the ultimate goal is to have the federal government pay for half the costs.

Tampa City Councilman John Dingfelder inquired as to how challenging was it to work with the various counties and their transportation agencies. But Simonetta said in Arizona, it’s mostly cities that he worked with, all under the umbrella of the Maricopa County Agency, not the situation present in Tampa Bay.

Council Chairman Thomas Scott said that potentially the first leg of any proposed mass transit plan would be simply for the Hillsborough County Commission to dust off a plan that was worked on years ago.

Simonetta is scheduled to address the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council Friday morning.

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