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What Do You Think About Building Light Rail In Hillsborough County?

Rob Lorei about almost 5 years ago

On Tuesday Septemeber 14th WMNF held a live debate about this question between a representative of Moving Hillsborough Forward and a Tea Party activist. Listen here:

What do you think about building light rail in Hillsborough County?

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Clearly, the debate focused on so much more than light rail. Doubling the bus fleet and fixing the roads is a huge part of this referendum. Light rail will be great, and could help our community remain competitive. But in the short term, this is a must have to provide jobs and options for people. Thanks, Rob. Great job.

I will vote for it.

I am voting in favor of the transit referendum, and I guarantee that if they build it, I will use it! I will ride light rail or BRT to get to work, and I will ride it to Tampa Airport. I will also use it to connect to the high speed rail station in downtown Tampa. Stop the insanity; vote yes!!


Of course everything has its limits and obviously rail is an expensive proposition considering the way in which the state of Florida had developed over the years. Originally, people like Flagler and Morton Plant were forward thinking enough to make the investment on the future of the state and my observation is, it paid off and is still paying off. Eisenhower did a similar thing by investing in the Interstate System. I'm sure he had his detractors, but look around. We would not be where we are today without such forward thinking, at the right time, at any price. Go to any large metropolitan area and you will see that light rail, buses, taxis and subways are the only way to get around a city. I know people in D.C. that don't ever drive their cars and they sit until they rot. Why? Because it is so much better to ride the subway and save your car for a trip out of town. St. Petersburg, Tampa, Lakeland, Orlando and Miami are growing into one massive area where driving will always become a bigger problem as time goes on. One subject never touched upon in the debate was the safety factor. I would much rather have 200 passengers in a rail car sitting comfortably reading the paper and sipping a coffee than 200 stressed out, tired drivers on the road any day of the week. Here is the main idea. Florida and in particular Metro Florida needs to decide on how it is going to operate for the next 50 years or more. We need to make cars and public transportation work together better than it does today. Let's look to the future like China for instance who has built the largest Dam and Lock system in the world to provide them the next 100 years of prosperity and growth. We are not talking one generation here we are talking two to five. Why is it that Florida grows and grows and never takes the next inevitible step to grow with a plan? Last thing. Tourism. Our Eupopean guests are used to rail and public transportation. When coming to Florida they should hardly have to step foot behind the wheel of a car and I would think they would prefer that mode as well. If we want to be the next World Class Destination we need to accomodate the world traveler and my opinion is we will be the better for it in the long run. All Aboard!

why sales tax?

I think light rail is a natural extension for the high speed connections which are being proposed to connect Tampa and Orlando. I'm disappointed that the cost is being passed on to low income households in the form of a sales tax rather than making a more balanced approach in which the real estate mil would be adjusted as well. The County Commission needs to step up and make a contribution to public transit and road repair.

say yes to light rail with a difference

I believe the light rail is a good idea also, but its to bad we cant make it an elevated system or a monorail system. either would be better than a street level system. also the high speed rail should be reconsidered as a mag-lev system. its faster, easier to build and cleaner. the Chinese are using a magnetic levitation train system from their capital out to their major international airport and it works great. Our friends the Japanese have had working maglev trains for a few years now. Rail is truly a product of the last century and we should be moving forward to the next best mass transportation system, Magnetic Levitation 300 mile per hour plus high speed trains. The system itself would be a draw for tourists.

Don't Need It

I am a professor of Transportation and Movement, specializing in Light Rail techniques. I have over 35 years of infrastructure and public service planning experience spanning three continents and seven governments. It would be a lie to say that public transportation has ever proved to be cost-effective but is often necessary. In the case of Florida, it is not necessary. Tampa has existing infrastructure that meets its needs for now and possibly the next 20 years. In addition, the local culture is like elsewhere in America and prefers and depends on cars for transportation. A system installed here would conflict with the surrounding routing. Please forgive my crooked English.

Carbon Footprint

I respect your views on this. You obviously have the cridentials but what are you identifying the need with? It would be great for this to be more cost effective and hopefully it will become that in the future but I think the benefit of less carbon emissions has a significant place here as well. Thanks.

Rqil Designed for a Different Kind of City

Rail is a very effective way to move large amounts of cargo or large numbers of people from one place to another. Passenger rail depends on concentrations of people moving to concentrations of destinations, like workplaces. It’s effective in places where people live concentrated in dense neighborhoods of multistory residential buildings and move to work in locations where jobs are highly concentrated in districts. We have neither the concentrated population nor the highly concentrated business districts. If we want to redesign our city and its surroundings over the course of the next three generations or so, concentrating populations and business districts, one way to do it is to force transportation onto trains by spending our revenue on them and not on roads. When the remaining roads gradually become essentially impassable and the development begins to cluster around the stations we will eventually have an efficient transport system that serves the needs of the city and its surroundings. Our much, MUCH more significant problem is that our civic leaders are still singing hymns to “growth” in an environment that has begun to exhibit VERY clear signs that it is approaching its limits in supporting ever more people. Sooner or later we will have to deal with the fact that we are living in a finite space with finite resources. Maybe it’s time to start to look at that instead of looking at how to encourage MORE “growth.”

As I sit in NYC, even though I'm from Tampa

I just woke up to drive my Bus full of musicians out of NYC this morning. Could you imagine the traffic snarl here if the majority of people did not use the awesome public transportation they have here. I used it yesterday with no problem. I guarantee people would use light rail here in Tampa, and in Pinellas County. I would love to Jump on Light Rail here in the Tampa area and then go to the Beach. I went to Coney Island yesterday from Fulton St. in Manhattan in about an hour. Dang the subway and bus was half the fun of being here. Hope to make it back to help the station beg for money next week.

Apples and Bananas

You nut. The train won't GO to the beach. And this isn't New York. Yes, it is fun and convenient THERE because the rails go everywhere. Here, even the bus only goes to a few areas and the proposed rail will go to even less. You should educate yourself before speaking out and influencing others.


The guy above is right. We all cry about uncontrolled growth and here you are trying to support this virtual super highway and finance this lunacy with our taxes! That is INSANE!

Double Tax

In 1998, Hillsborough residents were asked to pass a 1 cent sales tax hike called, the Community Investment Tax. Funds raised from this tax were to address education, public safety, TRANSPORTATION, water, wastewater, reclaimed water, stormwater, community stadiums, parks, libraries, museums, and government facilities. Note, this was the second attempt to pass this tax. The previous year the tax was voted down by a wide margin. Then the Glazers bought the Bucs and funded the PR campaign for the tax because it included funding for a new stadium. We the citizens funded facilities for a private company who gets all the benefits and the vast majority of the revenue from the Stadium now called Raymond James Stadium but, the big PR push was focused on “Community Investment” that included, TRANSPORTATION. We have already funded transportation improvements! Our local government has failed to foresee the need for mass transit solutions and now want you to pay additional funds because they failed to plan when they allocated the more than $1.3 Billion that has already been collected. The existing 1 cent Community Investment sales tax is projected to garner more than $4.7 Billion and our elected officials do not want to reallocate these funds. If light rail is the priority, reallocate the taxes from the tax vehicle that is already in place, and provide an accounting on how other taxes normally used to address education, public safety, water, wastewater, reclaimed water, stormwater, community stadiums, parks, libraries, museums, and government facilities has been redirected. Publish the vote on these changes and how you made the public aware of the changes. It is time for some adult leadership. Our city and county officials have failed to effectively execute public funds on several projects which have been and will continue to be long term drags on the budget. This includes Raymond James Stadium, The Aquarium, Channel Side, the Trolley Train, and more. STOP, RESEARCH, ANALYZE, DOCUMENT, and PUBLISH data that shows: • proposed lines, • projected populations demographics, • travel times, • transfer points for train to train and train to bus routes, • routes costs and break even data, and • data on any planned public subsides. Once this data was been compiled submit it for independent review and audit. Publish the results and then if the project exceeds the money available transportation from the Community Investment Tax, provide a detailed report for taxpayer review.

Wow! Well said!

I agree 100%.