Let's Talk Transit And How To Pay For It

Unless you work out of your third bedroom and rarely travel farther than your kitchen, chances are pretty good that you've been delayed or otherwise stuck in traffic during the past week if you live in the Tampa Bay region.

Road construction and traffic delays are so common, viewers of local traffic reports could be forgiven for feeling like they're experiencing deja vu all over again Monday through Friday.

But really? Is traffic out there really that bad?

Depends on who you ask, where you both drive and what kind of deadline pressures await. It also depends on whether you and they depend on the delivery of goods and services via transportation. (As in the delivery truck dispatcher who says you can expect your package or repairperson sometime between 9 am and 3 pm rather than making an appointment.) Or whether you're in the middle of trying to get their third-grader and seventh-grader from dance lessons to Little League practice during the afternoon rush hour, or whether they're traveling north to south or east to west and the time of day.

Take Pinellas. Anywhere. The built-out county, despite improvements to U.S. 19 and some state roads, and better syncing of lights along major streets, remains one of Florida's most congested.

Proponents of public transit believe part of the solution is to offer more and better transportation options. They are behind a ballot initiative facing Pinellas voters in November that calls for increasing the state sales tax collected in the county by one cent per dollar spent to pay for more frequent buses and to start building light rail. The idea is to share the costs as well as the roads and other transportation with out of town travelers (both leisure and business) who make purchases while visiting.

Opponents to the sales tax increase are calling for more and better efficiency in existing public transit and believe that Pinellas County already collects too much in taxes.

Many others haven't made up their minds and want to learn more before making an informed decision.

All that is why 83 Degrees Media is sticking its face into the simmering debate to  lead a community conversation that can help explain the ups and downs of paying for transportation.

Join us and get engaged in the conversation around "Tampa Bay Mobility: Mapping The Economics of Transit,'' the next "Not Your Average Speakers'' discussion on Wednesday, March 12, at Nova 535 (535 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. St. N) in St. Petersburg. Networking begins at 5:30 pm. The formal panel discussion begins at 6 pm. You can RSVP here.

Look Who's Talking

Our panelists each represent a different perspective on transportation, transit and taxes. Take a look:

The community conversation with audience participation will be moderated by Neil Brown, Editor and V.P. of the Tampa Bay Times. Brown oversees the journalism published in the Times, including its Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact. During Brown's tenure leading the Times, the paper has won four Pulitzers and numerous national and state awards for reporting.

Underwriting partners for this free event that is open to the public include Pinellas County Economic Development, Baker Barrios, PNC Bank, Tucker Hall and Nova 535.

You can RSVP here.

A Little Bit Of Context

This is the 13th "Not Your Average Speakers'' series, which 83 Degrees Media launched in October 2011 to give voice to different perspectives on key community issues while encouraging progress in urban places, including showcasing models for economic success.

Previous local topics have included: "What's Working In [Tampa Bay] Cities,'' "Champions for Change,'' "Community Building,'' "Placemaking,'' "Talent Squeeze,'' "Valuing Diversity,'' "Putting P3s To Work,'' "Innovation,'' "Tampa's Curious Quest To Be Cool,'' "STEM or STEAM: Shaping the Future of Tampa Bay,'' "What's New and What's Next for Downtown Tampa'' and "Transforming Military Might Into Civilian Talent.''

Past events have been held at a variety of cool places, including The Tampa Firefighters Museum, The Vault in the Franklin Exchange, Hillsborough Community College-Ybor City campus, CAMLS, Jaeb Theater, Stageworks Theatre, Freefall Theatre, The Roosevelt 2.0, Walker Brands, the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, MOSI Tampa and Encore! Tampa. To suggest a venue to host a future event, email 83 Degrees.

83 Degrees Media covers growth, investment and social innovation in the Tampa Bay region by featuring stories about Talent, Innovation, Global Diversity and Environment -- a new narrative for a new economy. "Not Your Average Speakers'' features creative, innovative and influential thought leaders in and around Tampa Bay who are doing their part to move the region forward.

Tweet about 83 Degrees and the NYAS events on Twitter by using #83DegreesNYAS @83degreesmedia. Also, if you’re feeling agreeable, like us on Facebook. We just might like you back!

Diane Egner is publisher and managing editor of 83 Degrees Media. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.

Read more articles by Diane Egner.

Diane Egner is the publisher and managing editor at 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida. 
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