Transit options support increases
September 29, 2009
Public opinion on how best to reduce traffic congestion has shifted since 2006 from adding highway lanes to supporting transit such as light rail, according to a Hillsborough Transit Authority report released Monday.
Two-thirds of Hillsborough County residents would support a 1-cent sales tax increase to improve both transit and non-transit projects, including roads, the survey by Ilium Associates of Bellevue, Wash., showed.
Thirty-three percent of Hillsborough County voters "definitely" and 34 percent "probably " would vote for a sales tax surcharge the county commission will consider placing on a ballot in November 2010.
The survey found 15 percent "definitely" would vote against such a proposal, although those views softened when road options were added to transit plans, said John Gobis of Ilium's Newport, R.I., office.
"You need to do a lot of education; you need a very detailed plan," Gobis said of the forthcoming effort by transit advocates to strengthen sentiments of those who "probably" favor a tax surcharge.
Tampa and Brandon residents provided "definite support" for the 1-cent sales tax increase. The highest opposition came from Lutz, Temple Terrace, Apollo Beach, Plant City and Carrollwood, the report stated.
The findings for the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority resemble results from an unrelated, recent study by a Pinellas County consultant that found 57 percent of respondents strongly or somewhat favored a 1-cent county sales tax increase for a rail system and expanded bus service.
Interestingly, the Pinellas survey by Fallon Public Opinion Research found 2 percent more respondents favored a 1-cent sales tax surcharge than a half-penny increase.
The issue of how much a possible Hillsborough tax surcharge should be appears to remain at issue within a county transportation task force. The majority of the task force members support recommending a penny increase in the sales tax, but some members are still undecided.
The survey for HART, which is planning the county's light rail and bus projects, included 600 telephone interviews of 15 minutes each of adults 18 and older.
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