TBARTA Board Approves Envision 2030, Tampa Bay's Frist Regional Transit Development Plan
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TAMPA, Fla. (June 22) – For the first time, Tampa Bay has a Regional Transit Development Plan (RTDP). On Monday, the TBARTA Board of Directors voted to approve Envision 2030, the state mandated RTDP that’s an important first step to addressing regional transit problems and competing for millions of dollars in new Federal transit funding to support one of the country’s fastest growing regions.
“This plan doesn’t commit anyone at any level of government to funding new service or using any particular source. It is, however, a conversation starter,” said David Green, TBARTA’s Executive Director. “It identifies gaps in our transit network and outlines regional needs and priorities. It contains ideas for addressing the regional mobility problems that have plagued Tampa Bay for decades and continue today.”
In 2017, the Florida Legislature re-established TBARTA as a regional transit facilitator, with the task of developing a 10-year RTDP to support regional transit for residents, workers, and visitors in five counties: Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco and Pinellas. The approved plan adopts an unfunded regional transit vision network with continued evaluation of projects in collaboration with local officials, including county commissions and transit agencies.
In developing the plan, TBARTA studied how other areas fund and operate transit, including Atlanta, Phoenix and Seattle. Those areas had greater success in securing federal funding by working regionally, an opportunity the Envision 2030 plan seeks to capitalize on for the benefit of localities within the TBARTA region.
“We want to expand the size of the pie for all the counties in the Tampa Bay region,” said TBARTA Chairman Jim Holton, as he emphasized TBARTA’s priority in working collaboratively with local government. “Going forward we want to work with all the stakeholders and participating agencies.”
“We’ve been talking about this kind of thing for over 50 years,” said TBARTA Board member and Pinellas County commissioner Janet Long. She moved to approve the plan, but also requested deeper consideration of how new transit will be funded. “All of us are dealing with budgetary issues because of the COVID virus and the pandemic, not to mention we’re staring down hurricane season. So, I think we have a lot on our plate.” Green said those conversations should begin as soon as possible.
“We will be presenting this plan to the counties within the next 90 days,” Green said, noting TBARTA is already on the commission agendas in Hillsborough and Pasco, with presentations in the other three counties soon to be scheduled. In addition, the budgeting issue is going to be brought back to TBARTA’s policy committee in July for further consideration on how to proceed.
“This is our first step. This plan isn’t meant to be a comprehensive final decision. We are mostly identifying the key projects of regional significance,” Holton added. “To coin David’s phrase, this is a living document that will be modified and amplified as we go through the statutory framework.”
“There are some things that are local, and some things that are regional,” said Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey, as she voiced her support. “We all have to work together on those things that are regional.”
Both the Executive Summary and Envision 2030 Plan can be viewed on the Envision 2030 page at TBARTA.com. Included is complete project information, including peer analysis, public survey results, technical memos, the project plan and Envision 2030 Vision Map.
“TBARTA is ready to lead and collaborate to solve the many transit challenges our region is facing today and will face in the coming decades,” Green added. “We look forward to working with local and state leaders to make Envision 2030 a reality.”
The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (TBARTA) works to advance regional transportation needs in Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco and Pinellas counties. Our purpose is to plan, develop, fund, implement, and operate a world-class regional transit system in Tampa Bay. For more information, visit www.TBARTA.com.