Grassroots organizations move forward on new transportation coalition for Hillsborough County

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A diverse collection of organizations want to provide a blueprint for better transportation in Hillsborough County. They brainstormed over transit principles, guidelines and implementation at the Hillsborough County Classroom Teachers Association in Tampa Tuesday night. The rainy weather reinforced the need for improved transportation options in Hillsborough.

The transportation “super group” is made up of grassroots organizations for boots-on-the-ground activism as well as larger nonprofits to handle lobbying. Brian Willis, with Connect Tampa Bay, is cautious about looking for a transportation silver bullet.

Job creation continues to be a hot topic across the nation, including in Tampa and Hillsborough County. Kelly Benjamin, of Fight for 15, an advocacy group lobbying for higher minimum wages, said viable transportation options for low wage earners is needed.

Getting from place to place in Hillsborough can be especially daunting for residents with physical disabilities. Olivia Babis, member of Florida Consumer Action Network, drives a specially modified vehicle. She’s worried there are no real alternatives if it breaks down in Tampa.

The 30 or so people who attended the first grassroots meeting are aware that transportation means more than cars and roads. Many agree that it is absurd to not feel safe walking or riding your bike in Tampa. Phil Compton of the Sierra Club, said the lack of transportation options is criminal.

Other groups involved in planning the transportation summit are Awake Tampa, Hillsborough Classroom Teacher’s Association and Justicia Now. Organizers plan a second meeting in March.

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