Tired of sitting in traffic? Longing for the day you can hop a train for the morning commute to Tampa? Now is the time to speak up. ¶ On Tuesday, Pasco residents can take advantage of an opportunity to do some brainstorming about future mass transit projects with the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority.
TBARTA is an agency with an important mission: to create a transportation master plan for the seven counties of the Tampa Bay region. At the top of the list is whether and how those counties could be tied together with an effective mass transit system.
TBARTA is holding workshops in each of the seven counties this month to hear and share ideas. The workshop for Pasco County is scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the West Pasco Government Center, 7530 Little Road, New Port Richey. This is a drop-in workshop, so you can go by after you get off work.
If you've got ideas to share on rail corridors, park-and-ride lots, new highway lanes or express bus routes, don't be shy. Certainly, tens of thousands of Pasco commuters can draw from personal experiences, since 46 percent of the work force leaves the county each day for work.
TBARTA was created by the Florida Legislature last year to address the Tampa Bay region's acknowledged transportation challenges. The region is growing, and more cars are added each year to the already congested roadways. Yet governments are less able to afford the high cost of building more roads, and the cost of driving is an increasing burden on Tampa Bay families.
Some people believe the only real solution is a rail system, but that idea also has its detractors. TBARTA plans to take two years to study the problems, hear from the public and then develop its master plan. Then, unlike some previous transportation study groups, TBARTA can take the next step. The Legislature gave the agency the authority to issue bonds and build a system as well as manage it.
Part of TBARTA's mission is also to find out what residents of each county think is needed, and where improvements, such as new roads, express bus lines or rail lines, should go. For more information on TBARTA, its work and the officials involved, check out its Web site, www.tbarta.com.
Now is your chance to get in on the ground floor of transportation planning. The future can look better than the river of red taillights you see on area roads now at rush hour.