St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster supports light rail connection to other cities including Tampa
St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster champions his cityâs transportation accomplishments. At a Suncoast Tiger Bay luncheon Wednesday afternoon he said he fully supports implementing light rail to connect to other cities in the region.
Tiger Bay meetings boast the ability of members to carve a politician up for lunch. St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster found himself on that platter answering questions he said he didnât want to answer. But when asked about light rail, the mayor took on a different tune. Heâs all for it and has a plan to implement a connection between Tampa and St. Pete in 2018 when the Howard Franklin bridge is rebuilt.
âIf we can have some type of rail between Tampa and St. Petersburg and then we can branch it down to downtown St. Petersburg and carry it to Clearwater and the beaches. Itâs a huge asset. And once other people figure out why all this really works and itâs good for business and it brings people closer to that rail line and new urban centers are created and economic clusters, theyâre going to want to tap onto the rail in Tampa because by golly it just makes sense.â
George Burke is a member of the non-partisan political club. He said itâs not just the Tampa Bay region that is out of touch with public transportation, itâs the entire nation.
âWeâve traveled the world and thereâs countries that you wouldnât believe that have much better rail, much better transportation than we do. Vietnam for example, Australia, Hong Kong, China. Ride the mag-lev train out of Shanghai that goes 465 km per hour. We have nothing like that in this country.â
But even though Burke is glad St. Peteâs leader supports increasing transportation options, he said 2018 is just too long to wait.
âThe longer you wait, the more expensive it gets. Itâs not going to be any cheaper than it is now or some other time. We just are not public transportation oriented in our country apparently and we need that.â
And Burke wasnât the only Tiger Bay member who thinks light rail is a necessary part of community growth. Barry Wilkinson lived in a major city where public transportation was a way of life.
âYou cannot make this community stay in this century without planning for light rail. I lived for eight years in a small town in the east coast called New York City and everybody uses public transport. It costs $30 a day to park your car in the city and nobody in their right mind takes their car into town. If you donât have to travel in your car. If youâre just going to and from a work location, it seems prudent.â
Mayor Foster said he plans to have something on the ballot for voters soon to increase transit options for residents. What that will be isnât clear yet. In 2010, Hillsborough County tried to pass a penny tax increase for their transit system, but voters rejected it.
comments powered by Disqus