Forum held on TBARTA master plan

08/06/08 Mark Anderson
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

Last night, the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (TBARTA) held an open forum in Tampa to solicit citizen’s input on development of a rapid transit master plan to be completed by the end of 2008.

TBARTA was created as a state agency in July 2007. It’s charter is to plan, construct and operate rapid transit in Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota counties. TBARTA aims to improve mobility and expand multimodal transportation throughout the region, and is funded by a state approved $2 million budget.

The agency is conducting citizen input forums in each major area served. About 100 people attended the Tampa session. Many voiced strong support for transit improvements.

The plan will recommend options for rapid transit, potentially using light rail, along highly utilized and congested corridors. This new, high capacity system will connect with existing local transit currently provided by agencies such as HART and PSTA, to provide a high capacity end to end rapid transit system. Detailed designs and funding will take place after the master plan is adopted.

One element attendees agreed on was that it will require a huge investment.

Another common concern, was the need to improve the region's existing road and bus services, while the longer term rail systems are being implemented.

A community workshop for Pinellas County will be held tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. at the Largo Cultural center, 105 Central Park Drive.

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