Tampa Bay is the 18th largest metro area in the country, and we’ll welcome another 850,000 new residents by 2040. Traffic congestion is getting worse every day and our transit options are limited. If we want to keep our economy moving and provide our residents with access to jobs and opportunity, we have to build for the future. It’s time to take the first real step toward solving our regional transportation challenges.
A Regional Vision
A Regional Transit Feasibility Plan (RTFP) was funded in 2016 by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to develop a vision for a premium regional transit system between Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. Now complete, this vision identifies the critical projects that, together, will create a comprehensive transit network connecting Tampa Bay.
Click to enlarge
Tampa Bay Bus Rapid Transit
The RTFP also recommended an initial “catalyst” project with the greatest potential to compete for state and federal funding: a 41-mile regional bus rapid transit project, connecting Wesley Chapel, USF, Downtown Tampa, Westshore, Gateway/Carillon and Downtown St. Petersburg along the I-275 corridor.
Click to enlarge
If executed at the highest level, BRT is a great way to get many of the benefits people love about rail – it’s modern, fast, reliable, comfortable and safe, but at a much more affordable cost. Plus, we can implement it quickly to address our transportation challenges now. If we preserve a dedicated transit right-of-way along the entire 41-mile route, we’ll also have options for the future.
A number of other transit projects that would provide critical local connections to the Tampa Bay BRT are currently in development throughout the region.
Tampa Streetcar Expansion
The Federal Transit Administration approved the City of Tampa’s request to enter project development under the Small Starts program, which would cover up to half of the estimated $100 million cost to extend the Streetcar route through the downtown core and into the Heights. An additional $70 million will be needed to modernize the existing route.
Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit
The Central Avenue BRT, an 11-mile BRT route connecting downtown St. Petersburg to the beaches, is on the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts list and is well positioned for federal funding to support the $41 million project. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2019, with service beginning as early as 2020.