Despite perception, the Tampa Bay region has made strides in the past five years to address transportation. Trends, revenues, and leaders have changed, but the mission has progressed.
TIA and the Ports of Tampa and Manatee are undergoing ambitious transformation. HART has implemented this region's first premium rapid transit, with fewer stops and faster end-to-end speed.
Transit agencies in Sarasota and Manatee counties are working together, considering how to deliver more efficient service and increase value to bicounty populations.
In Pinellas, there is significant discussion and anticipation of a referendum on a package of transit improvements (bus, rail) called Greenlight Pinellas.
And, FDOT is leading the implementation of construction projects and looking to the future with express lanes, intermodal centers, variably-priced tolling, and technologies such as autonomous vehicles. Policy advances by the Legislature have lead to significant private-sector interest in the delivery of transportation services and facilities: the region has attracted a private bid to build new infrastructure.
What's common in the progress? It's all part of the region's transportation vision articulated in the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority's master plan. Such an expansive vision for 2050 was never assumed to happen all at once, or neatly. Pieces and elements would come together slowly, depending on demand and funding.
We hear it all the time: speak in unison, as a region, to articulate the goals and priorities. We don't assume to speak for each community and its unique needs, but we do see the importance of regionalism, to galvanize voices, and move things forward. TBARTA will continue to work with all partners to maintain strategic focus, to elevate the importance of regional connections, advocate for cooperation and consistency, and assist in fighting for funding at a regional level.
Bob Clifford, Executive Director, TBARTA