Transportation smackdown…

Transit leaders and community residents got together this past weekend for a long overdue transit summit smackdown. Finger pointing and ’roundtable’ discussions were the order of the day in this feeble attempt at covering the collective asses of our municipal leaders (a term use lightly here).  The absence of Transit Committee chair Dorrin Rolle was embarrassing, and shows how personally dedicated our elected officials are to this issue.

Many ideas were thrown around, most of which we have been championing for a while. (See Streetfoolish or The Week in Transit) Depressing though our situation may be, we have reason to hope that the Obama administration will prioritize mass transit, and help cities get federal dollars without having to jump through hoops. The FDOT quick starts funding program places a heavy burden on municipalities to prove transit’s ‘cost effectiveness’, while roads and highways are funded with far fewer obstacles.

Notwithstanding this possible policy change, what do we do now? The Alavrez administration contends that the PTP has resulted in two separate transit systems: one that existed prior to the PTP and the one that was promised to voters. Unfortunately, this is true, but the solution is not to pool that surtax dollars with MDT funds, rendering the Citizens Transportation Trust even more obsolete, but to make the CTT the steward of all transit funds (fare revenue, tax revenue, etc). Along with that, further untie the hands of the CTT to act independently. If we can’t rely on our elected officials to act, then someone has to be responsible for advocating and advancing transit in the region.

PS. Repealing the surtax is a bad idea. It doesn’t solve the problem of providing transit to our citizens, and will regress transit in the region twenty years. Our leaders over-promised and underdelived, always a winning combination, but is that a reason to cut our nose to spite our face?  We are the ones who loose if the tax is repealed. Please write to your commissioner to tell them what you think.

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