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Hillsborough's 2050 plan survey shows residents want more public transit options

A row of HART buses lined up next to each other, with some palm treets in the background
Hillsborough Area Transit Authority
Of 23 proposed roadway projects offered by the survey, the public transit projects like regional passenger transit and downtown Tampa to USF and Brandon Premium transit received the most favorable responses.

The survey generated over 4,600 responses. It shows residents are in favor of more public transit but are resistant to the idea of raising taxes.

New public survey results from Plan Hillsborough's 2050 Long Range Transportation Plan are out, highlighting residents' main transportation concerns and priorities.

New opportunities for public transit were at the top of that list.

The survey generated over 4,600 responses between Jan. 30 and April 15. Of those, over 1,000 respondents listed "newer, faster transit" as their top transportation priority.

Reducing traffic jams and maintaining and repairing roads and bridges ranked second and third, with over 800 and 730 respondents ranking those two as their top priority, respectively.

Other options included extending or adding lanes to major roads, reducing crashes, improving the existing bus service, and building more trails and side paths.

The survey also asked how transportation improvements should be paid for.

Residents against tax increases

Nearly 78% of respondents showed support of renewing the existing half-cent Community Investment Tax, although that tax could see some tweaks upon final approval as it’s approved through the county commission process.

The respondents were also in support of maintaining existing avenues for funding like the current gas tax, property tax, and toll lane pricing, but were skewed against increasing those revenues.

For example, 79% were in support of continuing the 7-cent gas tax in the county, but 71% were against increasing the gas tax to 12 cents.

70% were for maintaining the 50-cent per $1,000 tax of assessed home value, but 65% were not OK with increasing that tax from 50 cents to $1, and nearly 85% were against increasing it to $3.

The results were similar when suggesting other funding sources, like new fees for rideshare services, or increasing drivers license fees.

Residents were largely in favor of creating an electric vehicle fee to use public charging stations.

The results were presented to Plan Hillsborough’s Livable Roadways Committee Wednesday morning.

Official: Revenues are needed

Omar Peerzada, a senior mobility project planner with the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit, says it's officials' jobs to make the public aware of the importance of these public revenues.

"How do we do better in outreach, and let people know, if you want these things in your community, you got to a fight for it,” Peerzada said. “You also need to pay for it, too.”

In the latter end of the survey, it asked residents to give a “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” to several major roadway projects, including new interchanges, transit opportunities, road widenings, and managed lanes.

And of 23 proposed roadway projects offered by the survey, the public transit projects like regional passenger transit and routes from downtown Tampa to USF and Brandon received the most favorable response.

Apart from the survey being available online, Plan Hillsborough also attended more than 40 community events, held several community meetings and forums, and pushed the survey through other transportation-based media accounts in the county.

A breakdown of the study also showed the demographics of its sample size. Disclosing information on age, race and gender were optional.

Of the respondents, 62% chose to disclose their age, and the main bulk of them were within the 45-64 age range. That accounted for 24% of the responses.

Nearly 65% identified their race and ethnicity. 1,951 identified as White, which makes up 42.1% of the study. The second largest group was Hispanic and Latino respondents, which account for 7.2% of the total answers. A little over 200 respondents listed themselves as Black or African American, accounting for 4.6% of the total.

Meanwhile, 48.5% chose to disclose their household income, and 34% of respondents listed their annual household income between $100,000 and $199,999, the largest of those who chose to identify that data point. Behind that group was the $55,000-$99,999 annual household income cohort, which accounted for 26% of the respondents that chose to report the stat.

The Long Range Transportation Plan is a long-term outlook of transportation spending and priorities between now and 2050. Officials push the plan as crucial, especially considering Hillsborough County is expected to increase in population by 29%, according to Plan Hillsborough.

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