Orlando poll shows it wasn't just Hillsborough voters who were confused about high speed rail related to light or commuter rail

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The poll also found that when people had more information about SunRail - such as the fact that the feds were spending money on the project and that it would lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs, the public showed more support, with 64% supporting it.

Less than a year ago citizens in the Tampa Bay area who support mass transit were openly fantasizing about the idea of a light rail system in Hillsborough County ultimately leading to a larger system connecting throughout the region.

But as November beckoned and and a lack of a specific route for a light rail line in Tampa became more of an issue, advocates began talking about creating a light rail link from the proposed downtown station that would be on the Tampa side of the Tampa-Orlando high speed route.

But readers and others who CL spoke with frequently confused the two. But there is no confusion about the two in the Tampa Bay area now - they're both dead. One rejected by local voters, the second, by the governor himself.

And as for rail in Tampa Bay, from the vantage point of July 2011, that discussion may not come back for awhile. As CL reported on Monday, the HART board, the local transit agency in Hillsborough County, voted to approve a plan that must be submitted to the state Department of Transportation on a ten year plan that never mentions light rail.

Among the myriad reasons that supporters of a light rail system in Hillsborough County have suggested was a reason for the transit tax's abysmal failure at the polls last year was the fact that many voters confused the local initiative with the federal high speed rail project that was very much in the news at the same time a year ago.

Apparently, citizens throughout Florida have a hard time keeping two different ideas of rail in their head at the same time.

Across the I-4 corridor, where the federal government just provided some $78 million for the new $1.2 billion SunRail commuter train system, a new survey shows that many voters in Orange County were confusing it with the project that Governor Scott thwarted earlier this year. As the Orlando Sentinel reports:

A June 22 poll by the Orlando Regional Realtor Association asked 400 likely Orange voters what best described SunRail, and 36 percent correctly fingered it as a Central Florida regional commuter rail project. But 45 percent. thought it was a light rail venture between Orlando and Tampa — one that’s dead for now. Seventeen percent were unsure.

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