Transportation planners in the greater Tampa/Hillsborough County metro area propose to spend $2.5 billion over the next 15 years on an expanded mass-transit system. The transit component of the Locally Preferred Strategy (LPS) calls for the addition of buses and the construction and operation of a 71-mile light-rail system. This study concludes that the case for such a transit system is very weak. Based on the experience of other cities that have added rail transit over the past 20 years, the proposed system is likely to cost more than expected and to deliver far less than projected. At best, taxpayers will have spent $2.5 billion for a system that has very little impact on traffic or air quality. At worst, taxpayers could be spending even more than that for a system that ends up carrying fewer passengers than today’s transit system.
Peter Gordon is Associate Dean of the School of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Southern California and a professor in both the School of Planning and the Department of Economics. He has consulted for a number of international agencies, government departments, and private groups. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.