Thursday, August 6, 2009
Mass Transit In Tampa: Past, Present and Future?
We have changed as a city and as a society in those intervening 63 years. The streetcar system was revived, in a very abbreviated way, in October 2002. The current system connects downtown Tampa and Ybor City, but the new streetcar is more tourist attraction than commuter transport. The time it takes to travel between downtown and Ybor -- about 20 minutes -- is unacceptable to many. Part of the reason it takes so long is that streetcars are not given priority in traffic. Cars still rule the roads.
There has been a lot of talk of late concerning mass transit in Florida, specifically high speed rail crisscrossing the state. If we are going to have efficient mass transit connecting Florida's cities, those cities need to have effective intra-urban transportation connecting business and population centers. Perhaps it is time to look to the past for the answer. We probably cannot return to the streetcar system of yesteryear, but maybe there is something to be learned from a system that carried generations of Tampans to work, play, school, and to their homes, every day for over 60 years.