Tampa's powerful city residents demand better transit options to supplement what are effectively car-free lives otherwise (and I'm strictly speaking of those living in the downtown/Channelside areas).
Unfortunately they have been subject to the voting weight of Hillsborough County's rural and suburban base who have consistently blocked progress toward light rail (though the most recent effort might have short circuited short skirted for other reasons, grrrrrr).
As such, the effective focus now is giving serious contemplation to turning the existing heritage Tecoline Streetcar system into a modern car system that highly resembles light rail yet is more apt for integration with a city center's denser corridors.
Modern streetcars are the light rail high without the interference of naysayers who will, in the long future, be asking for any developed system that starts in Tampa to be extended to them; watch.
Tampa downtown residents needs to get behind this movement and take advantage of the workshops being held by HART. As of this posting the next meeting is April 4th, but this page provides the rest of the details and future meetings beyond this.
It's nice to see the old team back at work on the streetcar! I mean, I know they have been at work all the years of my light attention, but tuning back in now as I am I see good ol' Mike English presiding over the Tampa Historic Streetcar meeting.
The meeting was apparently held February 15 and went pretty compared to how I remembered them back when the system was new. Not surprisingly some of the topics brought up were exactly the same as those punctuating the docket in 2005.
The CSX crossing insurance is still a costly thorn to the system finances, though in this meeting they seem to have eked out a bit of savings in some recent negotiations.
A while ago the system was granted funding which enabled it to pilot early morning commuter service, presumably with the idea that people might board at the parking garage in Ybor and ride the streetcar to the downtown core, or that commuters living in the Channelside lofts might.
That pilot program is ending according to discussion in the video and the board is contemplating methods to continue financing it, at least beyond the mere six month period. In the video several ideas are mulled to expand the commuter proving ground but if none pass muster with the city, it sounds like the experiment will end.
There's no hiding that the commuter experiment yielded lackluster results. But equally important, and as per above, there has been no time to develop rider trust in the option. The experiment was (or still is) important to gauge a core "veracity" but everyone understands that much more development and investment in the system is required to take the system seriously as a worker's commuting instrument.
The system needs to run more often and it needs to expand. Which is to say, it needs money and love to do both. Turns out, it's just what everyone is thinking.
Earlier today HART tweeted out about "Invision: Tampa Streetcar" which aims to deeply contemplate a conversion or perhaps dual integration to a modern "light rail like" system. Or, put more simply, a conversion to a modern streetcar system featuring modern car stock.
With every iteration of Tampa Rail it grows farther and farther away from the rich content base that so defined it in its heyday. Not just in its heyday but the heyday of blogging in general.
Tampa once had a vibrant and focused blogging community and Tampa Rail was a part of it. Today blogging has been diffused as a craft by everyday people by the sharing and commentary via social media platforms, something I crow about on my personal blog.
Every time I spin a new iteration I do so with a reader base ever less familiar with what a blog or the "open" World Wide Web are in the first place. Nobody is tapping fingers outside their Facebook app if they don't have to.
One thing that hasn't changed much in all this time however is Tampa and Hillsborough County's transit rail development. From afar, I read of failed tax votes and continued political resistance that all equal zero progress in Tampa, a land otherwise enjoying a downtown pedestrian re-birth, a relatively recent extension of the city's one true living transit rail example, the Teco Line Streetcar; and commitments in innovative solutions in traditional transit options such as One Bus Away and light-scale BRT routes.
The first link roundup of the new blog below underscores this despicable state of affairs. You would think that I planned to correlate this launch with the apparent renewed media attention but I promise that it is pure coincidence, however convenient.