Friday, April 27, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: TIA expansion a reminder to aim high

There’s nothing particularly exciting about a tram, much less a rental car facility. But the new projects at Tampa International Airport set to open Wednesday are a sign of confidence in the bay area — and a challenge to improve regional transportation across a far broader landscape.

After nearly a billion-dollar makeover, Tampa International will open a new rental car center and SkyConnect people mover this week, two major parts of the airport’s plan to position itself for decades of growth. Along with work to ease congestion at the terminal building, the renovations cap the first phase of a three-part project aimed at accommodating up to 34 million passengers a year, up from the 19.6 million who came through TIA in 2017.

In terms of its sheer presence, the rental car facility enhances the airport’s reputation for clean looks and convenience. Located south of the main terminal, it has room for thousands of vehicles and enough space to host several smaller companies that now rent cars off-site. By consolidating the operation, customers will enjoy more choices and competition. The airport will move its existing rental car operations from just outside the terminal, freeing up space to expand curbside access for travelers.

The facility is large and highly adaptable, a notable feature of the terminal building itself that over decades has well-served TIA, which is routinely ranked among the world’s most customer-friendly airports. The car center has a remote check-in to drop off luggage, and it is served by existing bus service with space reserved for any potential rail line in the future. And SkyConnect is an efficient way of moving people from the terminal to a lower-priced garage, rental cars and other facilities, such as a hotel, that are planned in later phases.

Airport CEO Joe Lopano and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn were smart to see this through, and Gov. Rick Scott deserves credit for his strong support for state funding. With the nation’s airports rated a D overall in their physical shape by the American Society of Civil Engineers in its most recent report card last year, the investment in Tampa stands out for the confidence it shows in the region and in its strategy to grow an international audience.

It also stands out for another reason. Tampa’s airport and port are investing huge sums to move more people and goods, but that same investment is not yet being made on the ground — on smarter roads and robust mass transit systems that better serve millions across the region. TIA saw the need to spend a billion dollars and went out and did it. Meanwhile, area elected leaders and the business community are focused on finding the cheapest mass transit options available, without enough regard for what this region will need over the next 30 years.

There are starting points and there a break-out moments. TIA’s expansion, which is only now getting going, should stand as an inspiration for what can be accomplished by aiming high. It is in the region’s interest that this crown jewel remain a leader in air travel and a driving force in the bay area’s economy.

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Editorial: It’s up to Florida’s voters to restore felons’ civil rights now

The disappointing ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court should erase any doubt that the decision on restoring voting rights for felons rests solely on the conscience of Florida voters. A tortured ruling by the minimum majority of a three-judge ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Published: 04/25/18
Updated: 04/26/18

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18