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|Pinellas Trolleys Move Nearly One Million Beach Visitors a Year |
Click here for the full story.
|It's Time to Stop Raiding the Transportation Trust Fund|
Click here to see Floridians for Better Transportation call to action.
Join us for lunch in Jacksonville on March 15 as WTS North Florida hosts a program on transit.
Denis Eirikis: IM4Transit Campaign Director.
Brad Ashwell: Florida PIRG
Rob Palmer: ULI
Mike Blaylock: CEO of JTA
Jesus Gomez: CEO of Gainesville RTS
Liz Suchsland: Volusia County Transit
Open to the public
|Transit Agencies Prepare for Record Ridership as Floridians Respond to Gas Prices|
As gas prices continue to rise, transit agencies are predicting another surge in ridership as citizens look for alternatives to driving.
Click here to read the full release.
|HART Ridership Soars|
A recent article in the Tampa Tribune details how HART ridership has rapidly increased.
Transit ridership is expected to remain strong.
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Florida Tourism Experts are "4Transit"
What Sandy Blender likes best about visiting Florida is our public transportation."When we are visiting the sunny state of Florida, instead of renting a car and going through all the hassles, we take the bus everywhere. We typically use the bus to go to the beach, the shopping malls and the airport. It is such an easy and clean way to travel. The best part is that it is hassle free and economically very affordable. It gives me a chance to sit with my son and have conversations about anything and everything. We love to take the bus because we never know what adventure lies ahead. It is so much more interesting than driving."
Sandy is not alone, many tourists enjoy using Florida's transit systems. Rosemarie Hidy of Stratton, Nebraska says, "As a tourist, I say the public transit is the way to travel around Miami. Visiting the points of interest begins with a trip on MetroRail, which the kids really enjoy since they have never ridden before in a train".
|Jorge Pesquera, CEO of Palm Beach CVB|
Jorge Pesquera is one of the nation's most well respected travel industry professionals, and a member of the Destination Marketing Association Accreditation Board. As President and CEO of Palm Beach County Convention and Visitor's Bureau, his leadership helped Palm Beach achieve the greatest increase in hotel occupancy of any Florida county last year.
Jorge commented, "After living in NY City, DC, and London, I am a huge supporter of public transportation. We have come to realize that mobility is important in attracting tourists and getting them to come back. Palm Beach County is the size of Delaware, so we have multiple destinations within the County. These wonderful urban centers are packed with attractions and events right along the FEC rail lines. Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, and West Palm Beach would be well served by convenient public transportation service for visitors and locals alike. With the current price of gas, people are looking for alternatives to driving. Public transit is definitely an ally of the tourism industry."
One need only visit International Drive in Orlando at any time of day to see thousands of happy visitors travelling by bus between shopping, hotels, and attractions.In the Orlando area alone, Lynx estimates that it provides about 300,000 rides per week to tourists and workers in the tourism industry. "Going green" is serious business and an important new factor in the travel industry.
|Gary Sain, CEO of Visit Florida|
Gary Sain is the president and CEO of Visit Orlando. Sain, a veteran of the travel and hospitality industries, was recently asked what's at the top of his list these days.
"Definitely, our Central Florida Green Destination Initiative, which debuted last October. We're working to build awareness, set standards, and establish a network of green properties and venues to serve as role models for the hospitality industry", said Sain.
Travel by bus is one of the greenest transportion options.
Second HDTV Winner Announced
Join Now and Be Eligible for Four More Drawings
|Maria relaxing before riding to work|
IM4Transit recently announced that Certified Planner Maria Melaragno of Tampa, Florida is winner of the monthly drawing for a 42" HDTV donated by the business community.
"Taking the bus to work makes my whole day better. When I drive alone, it's just me and irritating traffic. When I take the bus, I get to say hello to my neighbors at the bus stop. While riding, I simply relax, text, read, or chat with my friends on the bus. It's just a much more pleasant start of the business day".
Maria went on to say that, "Riding the bus saves money, it's green, and it makes me feel good not to buy so much gasoline". As a professional planner, Maria knows that fixed-route public transportation creates jobs and is a catalyst for economic development. Maria heard about the campaign because her excellent employers at Tindale Oliver invited employees to join. IM4Transit prizes have been donated by the good folks at Tectrans.
"Maria is an example of the growing number of passengers who value the convenience and benefits of public transit", said David Armijo, CEO of Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART). "During the past few years, HART has implemented improvements to its service -- such as more late-night service, more shelters and improved frequency of buses - to provide a better product to customers. Our growth in ridership is in response to these improvements." HART bus ridership in February 2011 was 1,138,046, compared to 958,515 last year -- an impressive 19 percent increase.
The "Subsidy" Argument
No one likes taxes, but what would our communities look like if we stopped funding everything that was "subsidized"? Roads would be the first things to go. Except for tollways, roads and bridges are subsidized with your taxes. Fire services would be next to go, no profit in that. Police would either be eliminated or rescaled so that fines and traffic tickets would have to pay 100% of operating costs.
Florida PIRG has issued an excellent White Paper showing that roads have cost taxpayers about $600 billion in excess of gas taxes and that general tax revenues currently subsidize roads at about 50%.
Like roads, transit infrastructure is necessary to the economic vitality of Florida. Sadly, special interests, funded in part by big oil, are actively criticizing public transportation for being "subsidized".
With rare and unusual exceptions, transit systems all over the world recover about 18-25% of operating costs from fares. Non-toll roads return zero. Transit provides a return on investment in many other ways. Two thirds of transit trips are employment related. Properties near major transit stations are generally more highly valued and developed. Transit creates more construction jobs, per dollar spent, than does road building. Most large Florida hotels, airports, and seaports rely heavily on public transportation to get their workers to and from work.
Transit creates jobs, gets people to work, is green, provides an alternative to traffic congestion, and helps America's energy independence.
The project to carry 3-4 million people a year on High Speed Rail may be dead, but FPTA's thirty transit agencies employ more than 20,000 Floridians, and provide about 250 million rides a year. I have served the transit community for thirty years, and it's sad that anti-transit rhetoric in Florida is at an all-time high. We need your help.
If you agree that public transportation is important to Florida, and that Floridians ought to have an alternative to paying astronomical sums to big oil and OPEC, I urge you to visit www.IM4Transit.org and be heard.
Wes Watson, Executive Director FPTA