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Roundup 10-18-2019

October 17, 2019

Contents

Transportation

— Referendum

— Some Day

— Streetcar

— Virgin Trains

— This is Why

Tampa Heights – They Have Moxy

Westshore-ish – Admission

Downtown/Hyde Park – TGH

East Tampa – Nah

Channel District – Sale

Airport – More

Economy – Nexus

Economic Development – What Is It?

Rays

Meanwhile, In the Rest of the Country

_____________________________


Transportation


— Referendum

There was news of sorts about the referendum lawsuit from Florida Politics:

The legal team representing All For Transportation in its ongoing legal battle against two complainants filed its response Thursday to an appeal seeking to overturn the 1% sales tax Hillsborough voters approved last year.

In their “answer brief,” the group makes two main arguments — that the voter-approved sales tax is constitutionally valid even if portions of it are stricken down and that the entire amendment is constitutional.

Because we are not getting into the legal arguments, we will leave it at that.  You can read more about AFT’s position here.


— Some Day

There is some more self-driving car money for Florida Poly.

Florida Polytechnic University is revving up its autonomous vehicle efforts, this time with the help of a grant from the National Science Institute.

The Lakeland-based university received a $350,000 grant from the institute earlier this month, which will help the school increase research on autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles. Arman Sargolzaei, an assistant professor of electrical engineering, was the lead researcher for the grant and believes this will be the first step to becoming one of the leading institutions on autonomous vehicles not only in the state, but the nation.

“This project and this funding is going to help us and as an institute — especially a new institute,” Sargolzaei said. “It will help with working and testing autonomous vehicles to be successful in the future.”

While the grant was intended for creating a facility, the research area will instead be in the electrical engineering lab until it is hopefully moved to the eventual Applied Research Center. That center, also known as the ARC, is slated to open in roughly 2021.

Which is fine.  We do not buy into the predictions that self-driving cars (aka “autonomous vehicles” or “avs”) will fix our transportation woes, but have no problem with research. Interestingly, the Economist had a couple of articles regarding self-driving cars this week.  The first (here) explained:

Jim Hackett, the boss of Ford, acknowledges that the industry “overestimated the arrival of autonomous vehicles”. Chris Urmson, a linchpin in Alphabet’s self-driving efforts (he left in 2016), used to hope his young son would never need a driving licence. Mr Urmson now talks of self-driving cars appearing gradually over the next 30 to 50 years. Firms are increasingly switching to a more incremental approach, building on technologies such as lane-keeping or automatic parking. A string of fatalities involving self-driving cars have scotched the idea that a zero-crash world is anywhere close. Markets are starting to catch on. In September Morgan Stanley, a bank, cut its valuation of Waymo by 40%, to $105bn, citing delays in its technology.

The future, in other words, is stuck in traffic. Partly that reflects the tech industry’s predilection for grandiose promises. But self-driving cars were also meant to be a flagship for the power of AI. Their struggles offer valuable lessons in the limits of the world’s trendiest technology.

While the second (here) focuses on China and tells us:

For years Western carmakers have promised a world awash with AVs by now, making roads safer and less congested (see table). That it is not shows just how tough a computational and regulatory nut self-driving is to crack. It increasingly seems that if AVs are to become widespread, it may happen first not in the West but in China. A fleet of Chinese firms hope to profit handsomely in the process.

* * *

Yet in the absence of driving software which can handle chaotic city streets, some Chinese firms are adopting an alternative strategy. They are turning the streets themselves into something that software can handle. The approach involves installing sensors to guide cars, writing and enforcing rules about how humans move around, designing (or redesigning) urban landscapes to be AV-friendly and, critically, limiting AV firms’ legal liability in the event of inevitable accidents. All this is easier in authoritarian China than in the West’s unruly, litigious democracies.

There is a lot to unpack in that last paragraph.  First, it indicates that making a system that focuses on the car is difficult, so maybe change the roads.  How much it may cost to retrofit all the roads in the U.S. with enough sensors to make self-driving cars a truly viable means of every-day transportation is not revealed, but probably is a ridiculously large amount (especially if we cannot even afford resurfacing).  Then there is designing all the roads for cars and restricting pedestrians.  Designing for cars and not people is obviously not good planning and really would not make any improvement to the built environment.  Finally, by limiting liability, there is the tacit acknowledgement that self-driving cars may not be quite as safe as advertised (and it is unlikely to happen).

Once again, we are fine with research, but if our elected officials think that we should wait for self-driving cars to fix our transportation problems, they are basically saying that they are not going to fix our transportation problems for at least a generation.  Who knows how far behind we will be relative to our competitors by then?


— Streetcar

Ever since streetcar rides became free, ridership has exploded.  How much?

The FY19 streetcar ridership numbers are in – over 850k trips were taken on the TECO Line Streetcar this year! That is an increase of 181% over FY18 (303k trips)

Quite a bit.  And, giving credit where credit is due, FDOT’s very low-cost three-year grant is the reason.  It was clearly effective and should be renewed. FDOT should also take note that good transit planning in this area will work.


— Virgin Trains

While you are waiting to see if Virgin Trains can, in fact, strike a deal with the State to connect to Tampa, you might want to read a Florida Politics article on construction progress on the South Florida to Orlando line here.


— This is Why

We often say that Hillsborough should not lower its transit aspirations to the level of Pasco or Pinellas (though Pinellas is considering another referendum).  It should move forward and let them catch up.  We also believe that the “BRT” plan wastes too much money trying to get to Pasco when Pasco has shown no interest in making actual transit work.  Well,

Pasco County’s long-range transportation plan still imagines the area as autocentric in 2045 with fewer future dollars earmarked for mass transit.

That is different from an earlier version of the plan previewed four months ago for the Metropolitan Planning Organization — elected county and city officials sitting as transportation planners.

Why the change?

The more recent version no longer includes the idea of a new sales tax specifically for transportation. Commissioners objected in June when presented with a long-term transportation plan that included the option of adding a separate one-half or 1 percent surtax in 2028 or later, to pay for roads and mass transit.

* * *

To balance the ledgers, the long-term plan now calls for allocating just 25 percent of future revenue for mass transit instead of 75 percent. That means the plan no longer includes three central Pasco stations for a proposed commuter rail corridor paralleling U.S. 41 or bus rapid transit service near Interstate 75 and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.

The overwhelming majority of spending remains on adding vehicle capacity through new or expanded roads, said consultant Wally Blain of the Tindale Oliver.

If they do not want transit, that is their choice.  But it also indicates there are completely different visions between counties for how this area should look and function. That is a reason to now worry too much about transit to Pasco (or to merge MPO’s).  Just another reason to set up an express bus to Pasco and focus on the real transit needs elsewhere.


Tampa Heights – They Have Moxy

We now know what the hotel for the proposed hotel/apartment building just south of the Heights Union office buildings (where is seems some construction, likely the parking garage, is already underway) will be.

The developers of The Heights District in downtown Tampa are planning a new 25-story mixed-use tower — and it will include Tampa Bay’s first Moxy Hotel.

The Heights District said Tuesday that it has signed an agreement with Marriott International Inc. to bring its tech-forward Moxy flag to 153 hotel rooms on the first seven floors of the new tower. The new tower will be between West Oak Avenue and West 7th Avenue and North Highlands and North Tampa Street, on the block south of where Heights Union, an office development anchored by coworking giant WeWork, is under construction.

The remaining floors of the Moxy tower will be developed as apartments, and the tower will also include 5,000 square feet of retail space. A 1,500-space parking garage, with 9,000 square feet of retail space, will be built next to the tower.

* * *

Another 30,000 square feet of retail space is planned for the same block as the Moxy tower within The Heights. Documents previously filed with the city show the developers are aiming for a grocery store — possibly Sprouts Farmers Market Inc., which is named on one site plan — for the district.

We also have better quality renderings:

 

From the Business Journal – click on picture for article

From the Business Journal – click on picture for article

From the Business Journal – click on picture for article

We previously said we like this part of the Heights project with a few caveats. (see here)  We like the apartment and hotel mix.  We like the retail. We are not sure why there are no balconies on a building that will overlook the river and have nice sunset views.  While that is a developer choice, we are just surprised. Additionally, the parking garage should be screened better (it will be the first thing many people see of the Heights.  It should not be so plain), and they could change the access on Tampa Street which will make Tampa Street less pedestrian friendly.  In any event,

Construction is slated to begin in early 2020, with the hotel opening in 2022.

Moreover,

The 1,500-space parking garage is slated to open first in late 2020 to support the Heights Union buildings. The parking garage will also include 9,000 square feet of retail space. Development of an additional 30,000 square feet of retail space on the same block will be announced at a later date. The full development of the entire block will be completed in 2022.

We like the Heights Union office buildings and look forward to seeing how this all plays out when built (though it could really use a couple of strategic tweaks).


Westshore-ish – Admission

We have long said that we like the Midtown idea internally.  It is urban and walkable. The big problem is that those qualities do not extend to its interaction with the surrounding neighborhood, which it basically walls off while focusing on people getting to the development in cars (hence the huge parking garage and completely unnecessary surface parking at Whole Foods).  URBN Tampa Bay featured a Facebook post by the Midtown developers:

If you take a peek, you’ll see a large parking structure going up! No need to worry about parking, with convenient covered spots next to your new favorite office and social destination.

With this picture:

From Midtown Tampa – click on picture for Facebook page

And that post was edited from this:

 

From URBN Tampa Bay – click on picture for Facebook page

In a sense, neither post is really wrong.  As URBN Tampa Bay notes (based on the first post, but really applicable to the second as well):

The caption from Midtown Tampa’s post here is the perfect example of how car dependency breeds more car dependency. It is a cycle that must be broken out of.

It’s in essence saying, “This area is car dependent so we’re going to design our project and build a ton of infrastructure so that it encourages more driving.”

The only way to “take traffic seriously” is by creating alternative modes of transportation and to decrease the amount of drivers on the road.

We completely agree.  Sure, they are going to have parking, especially for the grocery store.  But making parking a defining feature, having such a large garage (pictured is only a small portion of the garage), and having the garage face the retention pond (Midtown Lake) which is supposed to be a central feature of the development, is not really the best plan.

Once again, there is a lot to like about the Midtown project.  The two biggest flaws are its lack of connection to the surrounding area and the car-centric nature of its connection to the rest of Tampa. They really had the chance to fix those and make it so much better.  Apparently, that is not in the cards (and the City Council that approved it did not seem to care).  And that is Tampa’s loss.


Downtown/Hyde Park – TGH

The TGH proposal for Kennedy (722 West Kennedy Blvd.) next door to Altis Grand Central went before City Council last week.  Per URBN Tampa Bay;

TGH is planning to build two new mixed-use buildings and a parking garage on the property directly west of Altis Grand Central. The current TGH office building there will be demo’d.

The site plan has already been approved by a previous rezoning. The purpose of this request is TGH is seeking to add more allowable uses to the project. We have no problem with the uses being added but we would like the city to take this opportunity to exact a better site plan and building design in exchange for the additional uses.

 

From URBN Tampa Bay – click on picture for Facebook page

From URBN Tampa Bay – click on picture for Facebook page

We had commented on this proposal previously (there are more graphics here):

As you can see, the building facing Kennedy has some potential retail space facing Kennedy.  The other office building (Magnolia building) has some very small space that looks more like a lobby facing Kennedy/Grand Central. Both buildings also have parking on the ground floor.  The part of the Magnolia building actually facing Magnolia is mostly parking, even facing the street.  From the renderings, it appears to be hidden parking, but it is parking and not an activated street – even though it is across the street from Altis Grand.

We are for having a busy activity center in the Grand Central area. We do not really have a problem with the massing of the office buildings or facing Kennedy and Magnolia with office buildings, but the street activation ranges from a bit weak to non-existent. We also get the need for parking, but putting parking right along Magnolia is weak, especially with so much parking and a free-standing garage. (It is also unfortunate that Cleveland will again be left dead for another block.)

At the time we said we did not have enough information on the facades. We do not have more information (we were giving them the benefit of the doubt), but the facades in the rendering look pretty questionable.  Surely, TGH could come up with something a bit more attractive. Plus, as URBN Tampa Bay notes:

Specifically, the buildings should be set farther back from Snow Park. Also, the general architectural style of the buildings are not really compatible with Snow Park or Altis Grand Central. We also think the loading entrance/exit on Magnolia is too close to Grand Central and could cause traffic to be backed up onto Grand Central and potentially onto Kennedy. Bad layout for a corner that may get substantial pedestrian traffic as well. The loading zone just needs moved away from the corner, or better yet, flipped to the other side of the building where internal driveways can provide access.

There is nothing to disagree with there.

We are not against TGH’s idea, we are against some aspects of the execution.  Surely, this prominent part of Tampa deserves better.

Unfortunately,

Tampa General Hospital’s new mixed-use campus proposed for 722 West Kennedy Blvd. was approved by a margin of 6-0.

That is a shame.  We did not expect that TGH would be denied the opportunity to develop their lot, but it is a lost opportunity to, with jsut a little work, do something really good that will be with us for decades.


East Tampa – Nah

As reported by URBN Tampa Bay, a public storage proposal was up for approval last week:

The second project of note on tonight’s Tampa City Council agenda is an A/C self storage project proposed for 1101 East Hillsborough Avenue in Seminole Heights.

We oppose this project.

We do, too.  As URBN Tampa Bay noted in their post, and we have said many times, self-storage is basically a warehouse that people drive to.  It is not proper in an urban or urbanizing area.  It is not really proper in a commercial area, and definitely not one that abuts a residential area.  Such projects are car driven and lack anything positive on the street level.  They create dead space where there should be activity.  From URBN Tampa Bay:

People typically don’t walk to these things no matter where they are put, so why put them in precious walking areas? Industrial areas are present just a 5 minute drive to the east. That would be an appropriate area for something like this. This particular parcel is only 1 block from Giddens Park, and once built will overlook the park with it basically functioning as this development’s back yard. It would be counterproductive to waste the public investment into Giddens Park by having a warehouse looming over it.

Moreover, this site has a bus stop on it and a crosswalk across Hillsborough Ave. Substantial public investments have already been made in this neighborhood’s walkable vision laid out in the Seminole Heights Vision Plan, and this request for PD zoning to allow this storage facility to be built does not contribute to that vision in any meaningful way. The proposal instead would hamper the community’s vision for itself.

In the end, (ed. The quote below has been changed from our original post to properly reflect the vote. Thanks to URBN Tampa Bay for letting us know. Our apologies):

2. The self storage facility proposed for 1101 East Hillsborough Avenue was issued a continuance with a vote of 6-1, with Maniscalco voting no (he seemed ready to deny to project). There was dispute over several aspects of the project, including the storage building’s proximity to nearby residences, the location of an egress/ingress on a local street, and whether the use is appropriate for the location. While approval of this project is ultimately all but perfunctory under the current code, we oppose this project because self-storage is in functional terms a warehouse, which is an industrial use involving truck traffic. In this case on streets next to a park frequented by the neighborhood. We want to note that it is not the property owner’s or developer’s fault this use is allowed in this location, land use is the city’s responsibility. By all indications, they have worked with the neighborhood above and beyond what the city requires of them.

The next hearing for the project will be December 12th.

Perhaps most importantly, towards the end of last night’s hearing, Councilman Guido Maniscalco suggested the city have a moratorium on the self-storage use so the code can be re-evaluated, and so that is being looked into now. We support this. Self-storage is allowed in too many parts of our city where it is inappropriate. We will have more information on that upcoming process as it becomes available from the city.

With the rapid proliferation of self-storage projects, the City (and County) need to get a handle on the issue.  Such projects should be in industrial areas.  We are not opposed to self-storage.  We are opposed to them where they are detrimental and does not belong.

And, UBRN Tampa Bay is correct.  It is not he property owners’ fault.  It is government’s fault. It needs to be fixed.


Channel District – Sale

There was news about a land sale by the Port for a project in the Channel District.

Port Tampa Bay’s board voted Tuesday to sell a half-acre it owns near the Florida Aquarium for $4.7 million to an investor looking at building a 33-story condominium and hotel tower.

* * *

The land consists of a 0.45-acre parking lot on the west side of Channelside Drive, just north of the port’s parking garages. Currently, the port uses the land to park recreational vehicles belonging to cruise ship passengers.

The proposed purchase price of $4.7 million works out to nearly $240 a square foot, or more than $10.4 million an acre.

* * *

But it’s too soon, Hampton said, to discuss the project’s potential development partners, schedule or construction budget.

Streams has until the end of 2020 to complete its due diligence on the sale. Port officials expect a closing in early 2021. Under the terms of the agreement, Streams will need the port’s permission if it wants to assign a controlling interest in the property to anyone else.

You can see the lot here.  And more details starting page 257 of this pdf.

Given the location of the property and the obvious lack of useful maritime purposes on it (or likely in the future), we have no problem with the Port selling this land for a nice residential/hotel project with a nice design.  It would fit well into the area.  One the other hand, such land is not going to go down in value over time. We are not for selling public land for mediocre projects.

However, since there are no details of any project, we have no real opinion except maybe the Port should have waited until they had some idea what was going to go there.


Airport – More

The airport broke more records last year:

Tampa International Airport continues to break records, serving 22,166,049 million passengers in Fiscal Year 2019 – a 5.5 percent increase over the previous year.

* * *

TPA’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 thorough the end of September.

Domestic passengers were up 4.8 percent, while international passenger traffic jumped 19.3 percent.

Since 2011, TPA’s international passenger traffic has increased 185.1 percent.

There is not much to say other than great.  It shows what can happen if you try.

In more sign of strong international growth, Norwegian announced that it is adding a weekly flight from Tampa to London, for a total of three a week, for the summer 2020 season.


Economy – Nexus

Last week, we discussed rent and income.  This week, the Business Journal had an article on a study that dealt with how they interact:

A recent study from Business.org found Florida ranks as one of the worst states for pay.

To compile the rankings, the study calculated the number of hours someone would need to work at the median wage to afford the median rent for a one bedroom apartment in each state. . .

* * *

Florida was the fourth worst state for pay with 84.5 hours of work needed to afford a one bedroom apartment. The only states that ranked worst were New York, Massachusetts and California.

Given that our wages are rents are quite low relative to those states, it says quite a bit about wages.


Economic Development – What Is It?

A few years ago, the Tampa-Hillsborough County’s tourism agency renamed itself Visit Tampa Bay (after flirting with some other names to get away from the admittedly unwieldy name Tampa Hillsborough Convention and Visitor Association) even though it is an exclusively Hillsborough County organization. And the Port of Tampa changed to Port Tampa Bay, even though there is another decent sized cargo port on Tampa Bay.  Now comes news that the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. is changing its name to Tampa Bay Economic Development Council, even though, as the old name suggests, it is just about Hillsborough County.

Moreover, but a bit differently, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce is changing its name to Tampa Bay Chamber.

So, what gives?

First, it is worth noting that the Chamber of Commerce is a business organization.  And, even though from time to time there are rumors floating around that a mayor might get involved in some of the leadership decisions, it is not a governmental organization and has no specific boundaries.  Anyone could join though the name change will obviously annoy some other chambers.  The parties will have to work it out.

On the other hand, the economic development organization gets a lot of public funding and focuses on just Hillsborough County.  So why the change?

The EDC is rebranding based on feedback from its investors who urged the organization to adopt a “fresh, more contemporary brand,” its CEO Craig Richard said in an email to investors Wednesday. As the EDC celebrates its 10th anniversary, the timing is right, in parallel to the launch of a new, multiyear strategic plan.

Another motivating factor for the name change is market understanding beyond Central Florida.

“Tampa Hillsborough” causes confusion outside of the area, the EDC said, especially when other organizations marketing Hillsborough County are using “Tampa Bay” including Visit Tampa Bay, Film Tampa Bay, the Tampa Bay Sports Commission and Port Tampa Bay. The change means the EDC will now “belong to the existing Hillsborough County family of brands that market and serve this area,” Richard said in the letter. 

* * *

Despite the regional name, the EDC will not become a regional marketing organization and will remain focused on Hillsborough County only.

We doubt that it creates that much confusion when they say they are from the Tampa economic development corporation, but anyway.  As you can guess, some people are a bit miffed.

“This isn’t the right way to do things,” said Mike Meidel, Pinellas County economic development director. “Businesses looking to relocate will think they are getting Tampa Bay when they are only getting Hillsborough County.”

Bill Cronin, president and CEO of the Pasco Economic Development Council, said he was disappointed that the Hillsborough group didn’t consult the other development corporations in the region. He also didn’t like that he had to hear it from the Tampa Bay Times, which found a copy of the name change documents in state records.

“My eyebrow is raised,” he said. “I don’t think that any one of us should claim ownership of that name because none of us represent the whole area.”

* * *

The Tampa Bay moniker is what economic development groups from the region have used to pitch area-wide projects. Now that one group has taken it, Meidel said it will be harder to find a label to rally around. If they still use “Tampa Bay” for regional projects, the business leads and web traffic will flow mostly to the Hillsborough group, he said.

“The name change will undermine the powerful Tampa Bay brand that we have developed over the last 25 years,” he said. “I don’t see how that helps any of us.”

* * *

In some circles, the name changes are seen as a power grab, the bigger players stamping their footprint on a region that has struggled for decades to get along. The critics see this as doubling down on division, which could push everyone back into their silos, just as they were starting to play nice.

To which, the EDC head says:

“I’m not sure why anybody would think that we’re trying to elbow anyone out,” he said. “We’ve proven ourselves to be a really good regional partner.”

Richard didn’t think the name would cause confusion. He pointed to several other Hillsborough organizations that have changed their name to include Tampa Bay, including Film Tampa Bay, the Tampa Bay Sports Commission and Visit Tampa Bay, which promotes tourism. The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce is in the process of changing its name to the Tampa Bay Chamber.

“We’re just joining a family of brands,” he said.

We’ll be generous and presume he said that because he is not from this area.  The move would not be worth making if it did not bring more attention, and it is obvious that the move will not go down well with people not in Hillsborough County. (Though it is ironic that the “Tampa Bay” name was opposed by St. Pete interests when it first was suggested regarding the Bucs because it emphasized Tampa too much. We had a link to the story from the 70’s but can’t seem to find it, though if you google Bucs history, you can find some information on the opposition.) The real question is whether the positives of the move outweigh the possible negative reaction.  At the best, it is unclear.

The [Tampa Bay P]artnership’s chairman, David Pizzo, said in a statement that this is an opportunity for community leaders to have a “meaningful conversation about what a regional approach could look like.”

“A regional brand suggests a regional approach — one that encompasses more than a single county — and if we’re going to say it, we need to do it,” said Pizzo, the West Florida president of Florida Blue. “We hope that this is a step in that direction.”

It does not look like a step in the right direction, though you never know what might happen.


Rays

First, we congratulate the Rays on a fine season.  Here is the Rays news.


Meanwhile, In the Rest of the Country

A reader forwarded us the weekly TBARTA email blast again this week.  It contained a link to an interesting article on Utah. (here ) The developed parts of Utah – Salt Lake City, Provo, etc. – have a generally successful transit system, including light rail.  That also includes a BRT line, which was the feature of the article:

The Utah Valley Express (UVX), a bus rapid transit line in Orem and Provo that serves both Utah Valley and Brigham Young universities, now averages about 14,600 boardings daily. On some days, like the football game between BYU and the University of Utah, it had more than 16,000.

In comparison, ridership on the Green Line TRAX averaged about 15,400 boardings a day in August. Its lowest monthly average so far this year was in May, with 13,284, according to UTA data.

Light-rail lines such as TRAX — which offer service every 15 minutes on trains with many long cars — usually carry far more passengers than bus routes. UTA funnels most of its bus lines to trains because of their capacity for more people and swifter travel.

But the UVX is not a typical bus line. Officials have called it a sort of TRAX on rubber wheels.

It offers service every six minutes at peak times, and every 10 minutes off-peak. About half its 10.5-mile route is in exclusive travel lanes for buses not shared with other vehicles. Buses have extra doors and limited stops. Buses are longer than normal — 60 feet instead of 40.

Clearly, TBARTA is providing this link to say that BRT is better than rail to support its flawed “BRT” plan.  In some situations, on some corridors, BRT is better than rail.  But the article does not present exactly a straight up comparison.  Here are some other items in the article.

But Mary De La Mare-Schaefer, regional manager for UTA, sees an even bigger reason for high ridership on UVX.

“It’s the free fares,” she says.

UTA received a federal grant to allow free ridership on UVX for three years, and two years are left.

Free bus.  Makes a difference.  (We were unaware that the “BRT” plan was going to be free to ride.)

Moreover, the Green Line does not run where the bus is running. Train map here.  Google map here.  You can see the Green Line does not run anywhere near Provo, where the BRT line is.

And there is one more important fact about the Utah BRT that is quite different from TBARTA’s “BRT” plan: the Utah BRT runs on surface roads, not the interstate.  (and it is not the spine of the Utah system.) We have said many times that any proper BRT should run on surface streets, as both the HealthLine in Cleveland and this line in Utah do.  (And, of course, being free will boost ridership, like the streetcar in Tampa.) The TBARTA “BRT” plan will run on the interstate, which is a completely different circumstance.

This article shows once again the flaw in the TBARTA concept.  As we keep saying, just run an express bus to/from Wesley Chapel, and then focus on real, proper transit.

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