New Tampa rail express

First I want to call everyone's attention to O'Pinions to Go Online. This quiet but well-tuned (and perhaps customized circa circa my own system) blog is published by Joe O'Neill, an apparent professional in the field of journalism and mass media. His February 1 posting of this year discusses the positive impact of the streetcar on area development, and local business's appreciation for it. The streetcar doesn't turn a profit, but you know what, yes it does. You just need to acknowledge where that profit is being made and its value to our community and our future.

It's a little interesting to me then that, for some reason, you can't find any mention of the streetcar on the Tampa Marriott Waterside's website whatsoever. Despite the fact that the Marriott Waterside is immediately adjacent to the streetcar's prestigous Southern Transportation Plaza (it's practically all the same property geographically speaking!), it appears in neither their website's photo exhibitions or even in its discussion of local transportation options. I've dropped them an e-mail to find out what's up with that. Let's see what they have to say, if anything.

Also, my more recent posts have had me brazenly remarking how the Teco Line streetcar is a foundation for county-wide or even regional light rail. Those of you who support the livejasmine concept of a larger regional rail network yet scoff at the streetcar should support the streetcar because a larger regional rail network is what it represents. Even if it doesn't look that way today. It's a political win for life that not all metro areas seeking urban rail development achieve. However, we did. Now, I can imagine some of you may be thinking I'm just tooting wildly (who, ME?), but guess what. This is exactly the scenario playing out today in Charlotte North Carolina where their own little heritage streetcar line, not too unlike Tampa's, is being turned off for a year to enable its system-wide conversion to light rail. Cool huh? You can bet when that happens here we won't have to go through such a dramatic pause in streetcar operations. The Teco Line's track, catenary (assuming its used), and foundation, are all already light rail compatible. It was built with the county-wide rail plan in mind. You can listen to Jill Cappadoro's comments on this point in the previous post link to WMNF's broadcast.

As a side note, in predicting this scenario of the streetcar trackage one day hosting light rail, it's not to suggest that we would ever give up on our heritage streetcars in favor of light rail cars. I should think that when the day comes some decade or two from now, it will only mean that certain light rail runs would share the same, or parts of the same, track, throughout the operating day. At the very least, the streetcars will run up into new light rail stations and the two systems will not be 'separate'.

Jon Bell runs a transit website tracking urban rail system across the country. He's posted a small video clip of Charlotte's streetcar running its last day before it goes to sleep for a year. You might find it interesting and inspirational.

Taking the bus to get to rail

TR regular Jeff W has called our attention to an approximately 45 minute WMNF audio discussion on the state and future of mass transit in Hillsborough and Pinellas County. Light rail came up several times (including through an e-mail point made by Jeff W himself), and it was in these various exchanges that Hartline's Jill Cappadoro delicately explained Hartline's short-term hands-off approach to light rail evolution in favor of Bus Rapid Transit. Still, she makes no bones about the fact that rail, if not an enriched mass transit system in any form on, starts with community and constituent support to develop political will and dedicated funding sources. BRT in Hartline's view can be an important demonstration that quality mass transit is important, can be run well by local agencies, and can attract choice riders. If there is a linear evolution from buses to rail, Jill explained that BRT is an important step that way to changing negative local attitudes and fulfilling that logical progression through a successful BRT operation.

Does Tampa Rail agree this step is necessary? Is Hartline simply putting the best face on chasing the easiest federal dollars (which it would be right and natural to do) for what really amounts to an abstract but "sexy" contemporary concept in modern transit? Something it would pursue even if 80 miles of light rail were plopped down tommorow? The answer is actually yes and no. As Tampa's liveliest advocate forum for the development of Tampa urban rail I can tell you that Tampa Rail will never take the pressure off for seeing some form of fixed guideway solution in these parts. If there's community building that needs to be done, I'm locked on target and ready for bear to keep this drum beat going even as Hartline parades BRT the next several years. That being said, Hartline is correct that, as I plan to do what I do best in this fight with this website, Hartline needs to do what it does best. At some point, as the urban community sprouts and multiplies downtown, all these efforts will merge into one terrific urban rail success story. There can be no doubt.

Note that in the audio interview below (which will play through Windows Media Player or Winamp), the specific transit discussion begins approximately 1 to 5 minutes into the audio. -- And thanks again to John W. for calling our attention to this.

Bay area employers hiring?

Lucinda has a question about the Tampa Bay area job market, so she contacted us through the old Ask-a-Tampan gimmick.

Hi everyone,

My fiancee and I are moving to Tampa in Early May of this year. He currently works at John Hancock in Boston, and I am a paralegal. We make roughly 35-40k a year individually. Based on prior posts I understand that the pay in Tampa is pretty low. When I look at job-postings on websites like and other sites though, the pay seems comparable to what we are making here, so I'm unsure what ti expect. I was also wondering if the job market has picked up at all? I know that here, a lot of places have a " hiring freeze" in effect due to the economy. I was wondering if that was the case there also. We are planning to apply to jasminelive jobs from here and possibly fly down for some interviews but I'm afraid employers will be reluctant to call us back since we are still living in Mass. Since so many people move down to Florida from up here though, I was wondering if employers are more open to hiring out of state people who are relocating. Any thoughts? Comments? I just want to get an idea of what to expect.

First of all, congratulations on your engagement! And second of all, congratulations on making the decision to head to Tampa Bay for this next part of your life.

At this time, governments have a hiring freeze in effect, but that is not necessarily the case with business. Forty percent of businesses expect to hire more people this year (down from 56% last year). Locals feel as if things are just sorta ok.

As far as the 351 area code on your resume, I would assume that many Florida businesses are used to getting job applicants from out-of-state. After all, everyone wants to live here sooner or later! But for others with real live experience in this matter, we'll have to rely on the incomparable sticks readers - they often leave helpful anecdotal evidence in the comments.

One caution to you though - compared to the Northeast, Florida is laid back and (some would say) s.l.o.w. I beg you not to come down here just to complain that they do things so much better up North. We really don't care much for that sort of attitude.

Also, I see your husband is at John Hancock. We're not particularly endeared to insurance companies here lately. Although they are a necessary evil.

I hope this is somewhat helpful, and I encourage you to check back for more comments - folks 'round here are pretty good at helping out.

Hcso in ybor

Editor's Note: I'm an idiot. This issue was before the city council on Thursday, and I didn't get it written up until then. In fact, they probably already voted. How on earth will I ever get our elected leaders to look to Sticks of Fire for advice, when I don't give it to them in a timely manner?

The Tampa Tribune says the city should allow the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office to close a street adjacent to the sheriff's headquarters, and wall it in as part of the HCSO compound in Ybor City.

20th St. between 8th and 9th Avenues (satellite map) has had Bob's Barricades in the way since September of 2001. Sheriff Gee now wants to put up a more permanent obstacle in order to make his command center more secure, and the Trib Editorial Board defends him, saying security is more important than residents' opinions.

The Barrio Latino Commission opposes the plan, because it would damage the "historic grid system" of the Latin Quarter. Which is a lame excuse. But the people who live there don't like it either.

Resident Manny Leto says the compound doesn't do Ybor City any good:

.the sheriff's office provides little benefit to the historic district. The sheriff has no jurisdiction in Ybor; policing the area is the responsibility of the Tampa Police Department. The sheriff (and other county facilities) does not contribute property taxes to Ybor's CRA fund, and the building itself is a daunting fortress in the middle of a mixed-use, tourist-friendly, historic neighborhood.

What's more, every time local reporters cover county-related arrests, they report "live from Ybor City," reinforcing the perception that Ybor is full of criminals.

I've never seen sheriffs patrolling Ybor City - in fact, they laugh at TPD for the undesirable duty.

The Historic Ybor Neighborhood Civic Association opposes the plan, and has also complained about TV coverage "live from Ybor City" for crimes that happen out in Wimauma.

Besides playing the DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY card (you are supposed to think: "OMG - TERRORISTS!!"), the Tribune editorial board had to scrape the bottom of the barrel for any other excuse.

For instance, Ybor owes 'em one.

"construction of the sheriff's headquarters in Ybor City [came] during the 1970s, when the historic district was desolate and crime-ridden, contributed greatly to its revival."

They went back 30 years?!?!! What have they done for Ybor lately (besides the bad publicity)?

"the sheriff's office continues to be a good Ybor citizen, allowing visitors to the Ybor City Museum to use county property for parking."

How freakin' generous. That museum racks up MILLIONS of chaturbate rooms visitors, I'm sure. But then the Tribsters also suggests the changes are temporary:

"Gee says the brick roadway will not be disturbed and would be returned intact to the city should the headquarters ever be moved."

Not just to publish a horrible pun, but.

Gee, do ya really think that will happen?

This is a land grab, pure and simple. And make no mistake, it would never be reversed. Once the gate / fence / wall is up, the entire thing will belong to the Sheriff's Office.

There is no reason for a compound in Ybor City. The county still has plenty of room out on Falkenburg Road.

Besides, Ybor could use the space to add another eighteen and up bar or two.

First predictions in for super bowl 43

Village Voice Media owns Houston's biggest alternative weekly, the Houston Press. It seems as if HP sportsblogger Jason Friedman makes his super bowl predictions over a year in advance, just prior to the game prior. Got that?

Anyway, before Super Bowl 42 in Arizona, Friedman said the Indianapolis Colts will beat the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl 43 in Tampa:

Your fearless Super Bowl XLIII final: Colts 31 - Rams 20

That's right, Peyton will nab another ring; keeping the Brady-Manning debate at least somewhat interesting. And with his second Super Bowl title in hand, Tony Dungy can finally ride off into the sunset in peace.

He mentions Tom Brady because in the article written last Friday, he figured the Patriots winning Super Bowl 42 was a foregone conclusion. You see, he picked the Patriots back in January of 2007, so not only was he wrong this past Friday, but he was also wrong about it a year ago.

Not to be outdone, Tampa Trib sports guy Ira Kaufmann made his predictions last Friday too - Seattle Seahawks over the Jacksonville Jaguars:

With lame-duck coach Mike Holmgren on his final victory lap, Seattle ends Philadelphia's postseason run to guarantee a Super Bowl spot. The Jaguars shut down LaDainian Tomlinson in the AFC title game and hop a short flight to Tampa while the Seahawks cross three time zones.

On the evening of Feb. 1, 2009, Holmgren goes out a winner as Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is named Super Bowl MVP. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hands the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Holmgren and Seahawks owner Paul Allen, who both agree the trophy still smells fishy.

We'll make our first prediction too. Both Friedman and Kauffman will get it wrong. Check back in 51 weeks.