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Transportation leaders approve transit plan for Tampa Bay area

The next step is submitting a Regional Transit Development Plan (RTDP) to the Florida Legislature.
Credit: WTSP

TAMPA, Fla — Transportation officials across the Tampa Bay area gave the green light to move forward with the area's first Regional Transit Development Plan.

At a public hearing held Monday, Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority board members hit the ground running with Envision 2030, a 10-year regional transit plan for connecting commuters in Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco and Pinellas counties.

“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, in an emailed statement. “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.”

Back in 2017, the state Legislature tasked TBARTA with creating a decade-long RTDP to help improve regional transportation for people in Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco and Pinellas counties. The authority studied how other large cities like Atlanta and Seattle funded and operated their transit services.

A spokesperson for TBARTA described the approved plan as an "important first step" in addressing transit issues and competing for millions of dollars in new federal transit funding to support a growing population.

A draft of the plan was presented to the board last April. On Tuesday, TBARTA announced its two top priorities would be:

1. Increasing total transit funding that comes to the Tampa Bay area in support of improved and expanded regional and local transit services

2. Building region-wide consensus regarding how TBARTA can best support incremental progress toward the regional transit vision.

The regional transit approach, according to the presentation, would create a 58 percent increase in jobs -- while providing more mobility options. 

TBARTA's next step will be submitting a Regional Transit Development Plan (RTDP) to the Florida Legislature by July 1, 2020.

Click here to read more about Envision 2030.

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