Editorial: Rail system will help economy

In an effort to improve Tampa’s mass transportation system, HARTline approved a 20-mile light rail system Monday. The project will bring jobs to the area during its construction and operation, helping to bolster the small gap in the local economy due to the drop in tourism. This project should be funded, and the proposed future sales tax referendum should be approved by voters once put on a ballot.

For years, the Tampa Bay area has needed a better and more modern mass transit system so that more businesses might be attracted to moving downtown. Once there are more businesses, more commuters and workers will move to Tampa, further helping the economy of the area.

A major argument in the recent 2012 Olympics bid was the lack of a good, effective mass transportation system. The new light rail system could help Tampa win a future bid and make it seem more attractive to other sporting and entertainment venues seeking large attendance figures.

In addition to helping businesses, environmentalists should be happy about the system that opted to use electricity instead of diesel fuel. This will cause less pollution. The electric cars hold 170 passengers each, as opposed to about 120 in the diesel-powered ones.

Though 20 miles has been proposed, planners should take the project a bit slowly until they are sure such a large amount of track is feasible to be laid out and will be used by a significant number of people. After all, buses, taxis and other forms of transportation will still be in use, not replaced by the new rail system.

Hopefully, citizens will see the benefit of the light rail system and offer it support once a funding referendum is placed on the voting block. Tampa’s citizens have much to benefit from contemporizing its transportation system and creating new jobs during these economically trying times.