Regional Transportation

   Two letters by TBARTA Chairman Ronnie Duncan, one by lawyer David Singer, and  two SP Times Editorials are certainly welcome, but are devoid of solutions. There isn’t a study to determine that a commuter will forgo the car to park at a bus terminal parking lot. A proposal to create dedicated bus lanes to our roadways and bridges would delete lanes and exacerbate our traffic even more so. The addition of bus and rail services proposed by Pinellas County, and other elected officials and planners may increase congestion, road rage, delays, and blood pressure of motorists going to and from work. Constructing more lanes by widening existing bridges will create bottlenecks at the local street ramps. The plan must include the effects/cost of a bus proposal such as; building terminals, parking lots, establish ‘stops‘, the cost to the taxpayer, the cost of the bus fare, and how long would it take to go from home to the job. Dedicated bus stops are difficult to determine - this is not New York City with hundreds of high-rise employers in a square block area.
It would be a planners’ nightmare to merge two county bus systems to interface properly for commuters at the same time it serves non-commuter riders. If a commuter has to take two buses and then walk several blocks to work he will not take the bus in the first place.
   We must develop alternative ways to alleviate traffic at commuting times without 'driving' our taxpayers into bankruptcy. Former New York City Mayor John Lindsay suggested the idea of staggering the starting time for employees by fifteen minutes. Instead of starting at 9AM, specific geographical sectors of companies could start at three different times; 8:45AM, 9AM, and 9:15AM. The time difference in the morning and afternoon commuting times would decrease the number of cars on the road at any given time and intersection, decrease traveling time, and decrease gas consumption. Tele-conferencing already in use, would be a cost-effective way to have employees work from home. Encourage more companies to do so, even granting a form of tax credit for every employee the company converts. These administrative changes would decrease a company’s capital cost and infrastructure. A wise city-planner said, 'remove Man from his machine'.
   As employment and population grows, we will be back at the same place we started with the present ideas sponsored by various agencies, maybe worse. In addition we will be overtaxed with an expensive, failed bus system because of the lack of ridership. The increased costs and tax burden to our citizens for the widened roadways, and/or new bridges would hurt our economy further which is already on the brink of disaster. California dropped their rail system plan when an initial estimate of $33 Billion grew to $99 Billion. Let’s develop realistic, finite working models to solve our transportation crisis which plagues each one of us, when our economy improves and can be afforded by the taxpayers.

               Philip Tropea, Republican Candidate-House District 48