Tampa Bay-area transit scores big in state budget

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It’s the first time the agency has received substantial funding since its 2017 overhaul.

The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (TBARTA) will finally get the funding it needs to start planning regional transit projects.

Both the House and Senate included $2.5 million for the agency in their budget offers and closed out the appropriation sponsored by Tampa Rep. Jackie Toledo in budget conference this week.

It’s the first time the agency has received substantial funding since the Florida Legislature voted to overhaul the agency from a transportation group that provided limited services included a vanpool into a regional planning entity tasked with working across county lines and lead on transit initiatives.

Of the total funding, about $1.5 million will go toward staff, administration and operations. The remaining $1 million will allow TBARTA to begin working on its mission.

The funding bump is a big win for TBARTA’s lobbying team, which includes Ron Pierce and the team at RSA Consulting Group as well as Alan Suskey of Suskey Consulting.

Those funds can be used for things like feasibility studies for alternative transit options. St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes, who sponsored the appropriations request for the agency, had in mind things like hyperloop.

Elon Musk developed Hyperloop technology and concept. A vacuum sealed tube either underground or slightly above ground on a series of bridges uses magnetic force to propel vehicles through the tube at the speed of sound.

Companies have studied the I-4 corridor for hyperloop finding that the high-tech transit corridor could get travelers from Tampa to Orlando in less than a half-hour.

While some Hyperloop corridors are already under constructed and in use in a handful of places, the Tampa to Orlando route is still just conceptual. However, people like Brandes hope to include newer forms of transit in future planning to enhance the traditional model of buses and trains.

Brandes’ appropriates initially only asked for the $1.5 million to fund operational costs but later amended the request to $3 million.

The $2.5 million approved are non-recurring funds. It’s possible, though not likely, the Legislature could still add recurring funds to TBARTA as lawmakers finalize the budget through next week.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]


5 comments

  • Rick Fernandez

    April 26, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    A useless agency is in line to drain public funds for useless studies … The people of Tampa scored nothing here.

  • Michael MacLauchlan

    April 27, 2019 at 10:45 am

    “While some Hyperloop corridors are already under constructed (ion) and in use in a handful of places, the Tampa to Orlando route is still just conceptual. ”

    A few corrections: there is currently only one, very short Hyperloop test tube in use: it’s in Nevada (no passengers yet). Other test tubes are being constructed (France for example). A number of countries are considering Hyperloop. India and UAE (Dubai) are perhaps the most far along in their feasibility studies that include safety and financing reviews. In the USA, Colorado, Missouri and Pennsylvania are active routes under review. Transpod of Canada is promoting the possible route along the Pacific Northwest. Montreal to Toronto has also been proposed. Whereas I think Hyperloop is an interesting idea, there are many issues to be resolved: Passenger safety being the most important. Interested in discussing Hyperloop’s opportunities and concerns please consider joining https://www.facebook.com/groups/Evacuatedtubetransport/ Thx ! Michael Mac, Denver CO

  • Demian Miller

    April 27, 2019 at 11:34 am

    Against ~ $400m over 3 years for rural toll road sprawl-machines. But yay!

  • Thoughts

    April 27, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    The articles on this site really need to be proofread.

  • Kat Perkins

    April 29, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    And the house sponsor was…. Jackie Toledo! Thanks Representative Toledo for your hard work on this project.

Comments are closed.


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