Tuesday, February 16, 2010

SWFBUD Asks HART To Include Bicycles In Mass Transit Plan

Last night I chatted with HART folks, the guys who run the bus system in Hillsborough County because they're also in charge of putting together a potential game plan for a mass transit system that would be paid for by the money raised from a possible 1-cent increase in sales tax.

The county commissioners still have to decide in March about putting the 1-cent initiative before county voters in November. The 1-cent increase would generate about $200 million annually -- 75 percent would go to HART to start a rail system and get much more bus sroutes and 25 percent would pay for a hodge-podge

HART is holding about eight meetings or so around Hillsborough County to get people's opinions.

I represented SWFBUD and attended one such forum in Plant City tonight.

HART folks -- about eight of them -- spoke about commuter transit. The 75 percent part.

Hillsborough County public works staffers chatted about the miscellaneous road projects. The 25 percent part.

What was so disappointing was that among all the maps there was hardly any bicycle presence. The transit maps showed ZERO bicycle presence.

The transportation show about three bike trails.

That's it.

Also, it's hard to believe this deal will be approved when HART and the county is still trying to gather opinions only nine months out.

It's also so poorly framed by the officials. The photos used in the info booklet handed out by HART and the county show the same lame, oft-used shots of a bus and a highway choked with traffic.

We've seen it all before.

But now the stakes are so high -- and HART and the county have showed so little compelling information as to excite people to be interested.

Here's Bob Gordon tonight. He's the county's public works director and was kind of the master of ceremonies tonight. Bob was shmoozing with me about how he biked everywhere as a college student.

When I asked him what percentage of the general road project money would be designated for bicycle projects, he did not know.

Here are seven HART staffers -- some of the expensive ones -- and seven residents. Talk about small class size.

Based on what I see this point. I'm afraid a sales tax increase would go down in flames in November. They often do the first time in many cities.

Bottom line for me: until I see more bicycle lanes and routes integrated into the mass transit system, I can't support this thing. If HART and the county promise to commit money to build bike lanes that lead to light rail and bus stops, I would be supportive. Until then, no dice.

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