Tampa continues to tackle public transportation issue

By Breanne Williams, Opinion Editor
On April 26, 2017

Students and community members around USF will no longer have to fret over walking miles to a bus stop thanks to Tampa’s new plan to aid its residents.

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority's solution to those who spend their day walking 45 minutes in the blazing sun to a bus stop is to offer a subsidized transportation service from homes to bus stops.

For $3, people can hitch a ride to the bus station and shave nearly an hour off their commute.

Politicians are finally beginning to tackle the first mile/last mile issue that has been plaguing the city. There are many locations in the city that are far from a bus stop, causing the commute from class and work to be an ordeal.

It’s long overdue and will make a big difference in the lives of those living in the area.

HART is leasing four Tesla’s SUV’s to pick up a maximum of 6 people, plus the driver, at a time. They are electric and can go up to 250 miles per charge. Oh, and they are equipped with self-driving hardware.

For now, a driver will be in control, but if the state passes policies to allow driverless vehicles that arrangement may change.

Innovation is what will keep cities at the top of the competitive market. Tampa is renovating downtown and Channelside. USF is constantly landing on rankings lists and the housing market is booming in the area.

Downtown, lawmakers implemented the “Downtowner,” a free public transport service that carts people around the city.

Now, we are the first county in the country to use Tesla vehicles as a transit solution.

Both public funds and private donations are being used to jump start the program and lawmakers should be prepared to allocate more once it becomes a staple in the area.

It will undoubtedly become an instant success. Our local government should begin to prepare themselves for the push for expanding the program.

Tampa Bay spends far less than any other major metro area on transit. In fact, it is the only top-20 metro region that spends less than $213 million annually on transit, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Mid-size cities cannot function without an access to a reliable and affordable transportation. Tampa has struggled with this issue for years and is still leaps away from a perfect solution.

Especially near USF. Students rely heavily on the bus system to get from their apartments to school and to work. Many don’t have vehicles and will wake up hours earlier than necessary to walk to the appropriate bus stop and then hop from station to station until they reach their destination.

It’s exhausting and it’s unnecessary. If the city began to prioritize transportation more people could get to work, get to school, without having to give up vital sleep and hours with their families.

The Tesla program is a great start. Soon students can go to work without having to reschedule classes because it takes an entire day to get to and from the office.

It’s a great first step. Let’s hope the city is prepared to continue the path toward accessible transportation. 

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