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  1. Opinion

Think differently about Tampa Bay mass transit

Here’s what readers had to say in Wednesday’s letters to the editor.
Passengers ride the Cross Bay Ferry. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
Published Nov. 5
Updated Nov. 5

Think of mass transit differently

No scenic route to mass transit solutions | Editorial, Nov. 5

Economic arguments may do more harm than good in promoting mass transit. There may be pros and cons associated with the Cross-Bay Ferry, but bottom-line calculations are not among them. The best-performing systems in the world have not come closer than less than 50 percent cost recovery. Recognizing this, a number of communities are moving toward making them fare-less. Paris, with infrastructure costs amortized since 1898, seven times our area’s density, younger and richer riders, more tourists, last one-third of a mile service throughout, several international transportation hubs and no bay, loses euros by the bucketful. Those of us favoring mass transit need better arguments. Consider mass transit a tool of economic development akin to utilities. Think of it as a public amenity like parks. Demonstrate relative convenience factors for segments of the market. Consider elements of the system such as ferries as loss leaders to entice broader use by tourists and residents with higher incomes, such as San Francisco’s cable cars. We should want it, rather than trying to persuade or dissuade anyone from believing that our need can be calculated in direct bottom lines, or even more than negligible impacts on congestion or emissions. If mass transit was ever more than a public good, the private sector would have leapt into the business. Our tax bill is negligible but so is our pride. Jack up both, and public sentiment will be there, even for infrequent riders.

Pat Byrne, Largo

Spend tax dollars wisely

No scenic route to mass transit solutions | Editorial, Nov. 5

It is not often that I agree with a Tampa Bay Times editorial. However, I was thrilled to see the Cross-Bay Ferry exposed as the waste that it is, when taxpayer dollars should be going to our infrastructure, not spending money on St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman’s pet projects. I agree with Pinellas County Commissioner Kathleen Peters when she said, “The poor people of Pinellas shouldn’t be subsidizing the wealthy for entertainment.” I only wish she had said “any people” instead of “poor people.” Kudos to her.

Eric Von Kaenel, St. Petersburg

Congress can do both things

The impeachment inquiry

Rep. Ross Spano (R-Dover)

I recently received a survey from my congressman, Ross Spano, R-Dover. It contained one absurdly biased question: “Do you think Congress should focus on legislation that helps the American people instead of impeachment motivated by partisan politics?” Everyone wants Congress to focus on legislation that helps the American people. But we also want members of Congress to fulfill their oath of office, which is their primary duty. I am a part of the silent majority who is appalled by the actions of our president. It is totally unacceptable for a political leader to sic foreign governments on political rivals and to accuse people questioning his actions of treason. For those of us who are old enough to remember, the hubris demonstrated by our current president brings back memories of Richard Nixon’s hubris, which precipitated the end of his presidency. The founders of our country, who rebelled against a king, created a constitutional system of checks and balances primarily to protect Americans from presidents who might act as if they are kings. While I appreciate Congressman Spano’s interest in legislation that helps the American people, I expect him to fulfill his oath and investigate a president who is acting like a king.

Michael Wrona, Temple Terrace

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