Battle to build mass transit far from over | June 5
Transit plans needn't break bank
This column provides a good summary of what might still be possible. Since 2008, I have been pestering executive director Bob Clifford of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority with examples of less expensive transit projects around the country that didn't require billion-dollar investments.
A busy "River Line" runs on existing railroad tracks between Trenton and Camden, N.J., and then operates smoothly on city streets to the busy waterfront entertainment center. It uses inexpensive light-rail diesel mechanical units that can someday be replaced by electrical units as passenger volume increases. Light-rail trains like these could be tried between St. Petersburg and Clearwater at modest cost to test for passenger acceptance, or used elsewhere in the area if not successful. Similar installations might be tested in the Tampa area without major construction.
A low-cost street trolley was installed in Portland, Ore., to complement the already busy light rail that runs through town from the suburbs. City officials decided to build it as cheaply as possible and pioneered a low-cost method of installing track in the streets. With modern cars, the system has been very busy and must be expanded. Real estate values have soared at each trolley stop. They did not depend on high-priced consultants whose fees are based on the ultimate cost of the installation, but decided what they wanted and then used the advice of equipment suppliers. My suggestion is that our officials inspect this system and use their experience as a guide for this area.
In Minneapolis, the successful Northstar passenger railroad system uses modern diesel locomotives and cars and it is operated by the BNSF railroad. This suggests that a higher speed railroad operated by CSX at a profit could run over upgraded tracks from Tampa through Orlando to a connection with the north-south Amtrak trains. This would be far less costly than an expensive new railroad company that would continue to be a financial burden for many years.
These suggestions are made with the hope that they would be the starting point for further evaluation by people who understand railroad operation.
Robert A. Stanton, Seminole
The state you're in | June 5
Bill Duryea's column on the abysmal lack of pedestrian protection in the Tampa area was right on the mark.
Davis Boulevard is a prime example. There is one hash-marked crossing across from Tampa General Hospital at the end of the bridge from Bayshore (and this is partially concealed) and I would guess that 80 percent of cars never stop for a pedestrian waiting to cross. The only other marked crossing is a bricked walkway with a stop sign at the business area. There is no other pedestrian protection on the entire boulevard. Therefore, the only way to cross Davis Boulevard, the major artery to Bayshore, is to dart across during a lull in traffic.
This, in a highly residential area including a large urban hospital, serviced by several HARTline buses as well as hospital shuttles. Why must we wait for someone to be killed before something is done about this potentially deadly situation?
Mary F. Bosy, Tampa
Medications in a storm
Hurricane experts tell us to be sure to take several weeks of medications when leaving under an evacuation order. This may not be possible on short notice.
Many medicines are allocated by the insurance companies, and any refills must fit the date of prescription for quantity, length or use. No refills before the final use date are allowed. As well, many drugs require a doctor's approval before a refill is allowed, which could take several days, and the system could jam up if everyone places a "rush order" at the same time.
Stockpiling ahead could be difficult and expensive. Medicines are affected by heat and moisture in storage, including when traveling.
Carl R. Aden, New Port Richey
Medicare can't last 'as we know it' June 6, commentary
Other countries manage
Every other First World country and most Second World world countries have managed to provide health care to their entire population with out bankrupting their country, and they get better results. So why does columnist Robert Samuelson think Americans are too stupid to do the same?
Given that the medical business was all private until Medicare and competition did not prevent outrageous rises in cost, why does he think it will now?
Given that Medicare was a response to the inability for seniors to get health insurance at a reasonable cost, what has changed that makes it possible now?
Since Medicare Advantage programs are paid 114 percent of the normal Medicare reimbursement and everyone else says they are more expensive than Medicare, where is his expert getting data from?
Christopher Radulich, Apollo Beach
Abuse cases cost $4.7M | June 2
More disclosure needed
Bishop Robert N. Lynch states that the diocese has never made a special appeal for funds to cover the $4.7 million spent because of the sexual misconduct of priests and others associated with the diocese of St. Petersburg.
He further states that 20 percent of the money paid to survivors of this sexual abuse was paid through insurance coverage, with the remainder from "insurance reserves."
But who pays for the insurance purchased by the diocese, as well as the reserves? The members of the diocese of St. Petersburg pay for everything that happens in the diocese. The money didn't magically appear from the ether.
While the bishop should be commended for taking small first steps, real transparency involves much more than has been revealed.
Judie Harding, Sun City Center
Graduates overcame steep odds to succeed June 7, editorial
I applaud those students mentioned in your editorial. Not only did they graduate from high school and are going on to bigger and better things in college, but they overcame obstacles thrown in front of them. It is rare to hear about young students succeeding despite all the obstacles. Their perseverance has finally paid off for them and society.
We have too many students who whine about not succeeding because of the obstacles in their path. Of course, we also have many students who don't take school seriously enough to focus on graduating. I commend these students and admire their efforts. If only we could package up what they have and give it to the students who are failing. Thank you for an uplifting story.
Mario Rodriquez, St. Petersburg