You have to admit it would be cool if even after losing the transit tax vote Tampa itself somehow came up with a way to get a leg of light rail up and running anyway. It's what the local free market leaders want, believing it is critical to fortify Tampa's current HSR standing.
It would be refreshing to break the model that goes something like this all the darned time:
- Citizens and free market thinkers decide they want light rail
- A public vote is held to raise a tax to fund it
- Dave Pineros run websites like this championing it
- Anti-tax loonies and ultra conservatives oppose and fight the vote
- Everybody holds breath
- Rail vote fails or succeeds
- Repeat as necessary until vote passes
But who's to do it and would any model that didn't carry the power of eminent domain and taxation really work? Actually the heavily localized effort to build light rail in Tampa anyway would still require taxes, but the mere talk of doing a starter system on just quarter penny to connect the likely HSR rail terminal to TIA, is enticing enough to bring us to the edge of this very question. It's fascinating if not pure folly.
Can We Please Untie Merit of Tampa High Speed Rail From Light Rail?
Actually, I am somewhat perturbed by this "out of the blue" sentiment that the high speed rail in Tampa is suddenly a bad idea, or a particularly jeopardized one, now that everyone knows that light rail groundbreaking in Tampa is approximately 3-5 years off. Has anyone else picked up this vibe? It's bad enough Rick Scott may well tear the deal apart, this extra anxiety that those who oppose the connection now have fuel and sympathy over something that was speculative in the first place is just too much.
It never once crossed my mind that HSR in Tampa was pointless unless it included a "rail connection" to TIA, excellent as that would be. For god's sake, it isn't like switching trains from HSR to local light rail is exactly ideal either just because each mode shares the word "rail". Switching is a pain in the butt no matter what. Switching to light from high speed rail would be only a little less convenient than hopping on a bus or a shuttle until Hillsborough or TBARTA gets its light rail ducks in a row. What's ideal, if you want to get right down to it, is to run high speed rail straight to the airport - but that's never going to happen.
So frankly, I don't get all this angst that Tampa might not be suitable for an HSR terminal today because light rail won't be available any time soon. This sentiment is mushrooming suddenly (so it seems), and I can't figure out why. Unless Obama was secretly whispering into everyone's ears "You get this money only if light rail gets built" when he was there signing off on the deal, I don't see the problem or the urgency, or, the lack of value in Tampa's HSR station.
Tampa High Speed Rail Station Animation
Incidentally, I'm now sure how widely distributed this is, but here is a QuickTime movie animation of Tampa's High Speed rail station in operation.
Tampa Rail Express Links
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