Paid by Tammy Garcia, Democrat, for FL House 37

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Public Transit

April 13, 2018

 

Just imagine...

 

You live in Pasco County but work in St. Pete. Instead of every morning and evening sitting in parking lot traffic on I-275/ Veterans Expressway, you hop on a tram that tskes you right into St. Pete. 

 

Or...

 

You live in Pasco County and want to attend the Lightning playoff game.  Instead of calling an Uber or having to pay for parking and getting stuck in traffic, you hop on a tram that takes you right to the stadium. 

 

Or...

 

You live in Wesley Chapel but want to enjoy a meal with a beautiful view of the water in Port Richey.  Instead of driving down 54, you hop on a tram, take a nap or scroll through Twitter, and before you know it, you're there.

 

These scenarios aren't really far fetched.  The Tampa Bay area (including Pasco) seems to have a small town mentality when it comes to public transit.  The truth is, we are HUGE metro area.  Living in the Bay area grants us with amazing opportunities to partake in activities in St. Petersburg, Tampa, Port Richey, Wesley Chapel, and everything in between.  There's ssomething going on somewhere in the area at all times.  Even with it being in downtown Tampa, I love to have acccess to the Glazer's Children Museum for my son to enjoy.  I love that the Dali Museum is in the area so I can get my art fix.  The Mahaffey Theatre has some amazing shows.  Everyone that comes to visit me wants to make a stop at the Wesley Chapel outlet mall.  Before going anywhere, however, I always stop and ask myself "is it worth sitting in the traffic and spending all that time in my car?"  Sometimes the answer is "no".  With 15,000 new homes being approved in Pasco and roads not getting widened, our traffic is just going to get worse.  Providing public transit options is a smart investment.  Making a public transit system that connects Pasco to Hillsborough, Pinellas, and beyond is beneficial to everyone.  

 

Having quality public transit is an incentive for businesses when they are looking to relocate or build a new location.  It helps to provide congestion mitigation and ease of mobility- both of which are important as it helps to attract top quality employees.  Having access to a variety of cultural activities, restaurants, and other activities is important to employers.  Public transit would help to make our amenities all around the Bay area an easy sell.  

 

It can also help to improve Pasco County's poverty rate as having reliable transportation is necessary for employment and public transit is often a cheaper alternative to having a car and needing to pay for insurance and gas.  Studies have shown that using public transit over a personal automobile can save families anywhere from $5,000 up to $10,000 a year.  That's a substantial amount to people struggling to pay their electricity or mortgage.  

 

According to the 2010 US Census, 20% of Pasco's population is over the age of 65.  The number is expected to increase in the next Census.  As the population ages, public transit becomes even more important.  It can make daily errands easier for individuals with health conditions that prevent them from being able to drive.  

 

The benefits of a public transit system are clear.  As a county and as a state, we need to start investing in it.  

 

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