HART board approves ten year plan that does NOT include light rail

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Mary Shavalier, Director of Grants Management and Planning with the agency, said that HART will concentrate its efforts on more flex routes, more express routes, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and High Occupancy Vehicle lanes (also known as HOV, which are essentially car pool lanes that could also be used by buses).

Noting the symbolic significance of such an inclusion during their meeting on Monday, Board member David Mechanik asked Shavalier if it was accurate that the DOT requires the Transit Development Plan to include a "reasonable, foreseeable" funding source to include in such a plan. "We can't just put in projects that we have no idea where the funding would come from -is that a fair way to put it?," he asked.

Shavalier said that was accurate, but emphasized that the plan was "not locked into" the next ten years, and if the revenue situation improves, they can reinsert that in their plans. "We're looking at our critical needs," she said. "We do recognize that continuing to study transit and other options is critical."

What a difference a year makes.

At this time in 2010, the debate, hype and excitement of a possible light rail system finally coming to the Tampa Bay area was very much part of the political discussion, as a penny transit tax to fund a system was to go before Hillsborough county voters in the fall.

You know the rest - the measure went down to a resounding defeat, and except for some local business officials, there has not been much enthusiasm about light rail ever since, despite the need that advocates say hasn't gone away.

To emphasize how off the radar such a a plan is this summer, the board of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority on Monday approved a ten-year plan that they must submit to the Florida Department of Transportation that does not include light rail - at all.

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