Tampa Downtown Partnership Endorses Transit

Add another endorsement for regional transit.

The board of the Tampa Downtown Partnership recently passed a resolution encouraging the construction of a regional transit system, a move that it hopes will encourage the Hillsborough County Commission this month to approve putting a 1-cent sales tax for transit on a voters referendum in November 2010.

This adds to similar endorsements from the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and the Westshore Alliance.

Karen Kress, director of transportation and planning for the Partnership, said the real key for a transit system isn't simply ridership. It's also how the system boosts development.

Charlotte, N.C., which got federal funding for a new light rail system, has seen a 4-to-1return on its transit investment, with existing and new businesses growing because of the system.

If the referendum is set, a public education effort may be the next step.

"I've been to some discussions, and the concepts may be too much for the public to grasp," Kress says. "Instead of density, we need to talk about compact development, and how that helps everyone."

About 75 percent of the new tax would fund transit. The remainder would be for non-transit transportation uses, such as roads. The tax idea came out of of report from a Hillsborough County transportation tax force that studied mobility challenges in west central Florida for more than two years.

Writer: Dave Szymanski

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