Ultimate Quality-of-Life Issue

For long-time residents, Bay Area mass transit is as classic an oxymoron as George Carlin’s jumbo shrimp. A few bus lines doesn’t count, unless you’re of the socio-economic class that must use them. Reportedly, the issue of mess transit kept Tampa off the U.S. Olympic Committee’s short list of finalists.

There have been proposals and studies and blue ribbon panels and public hearings and even a pro-commuter rail editorial by the Tampa Tribune. But nothing is ultimately addressed but paving priorities. Cost savings, congestion alleviation and air-quality upgrades never carry the day — especially when the other side of the equation is a tax hike and locals’ love affair with their automobiles and SUVs.

Well, here’s one more arrow for that light-rail quiver. It will save lives.

A survey by Washington-based TRIP — The Road Information Report — has ranked the Tampa-St. Petersburg areas as the second worst in the country when it comes to fatality rates for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. Tourists — including elderly snowbirds who nest in the passing lanes — and normal Florida population growth continue to overwhelm the Interstate system. Catching up with asphalt is neither an option nor a possibility.

Perhaps the ultimate quality-of-life issue — fatality rates — will make a difference.


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