Friday, January 19, 2018

Bay Area Transit - Sanity among the chaos

It looks like there may be a glimmer of hope for Bay Area public transit. 

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.

In the Regional Transit Feasibility plan, developed by Jacobs Engineering, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has become the leading option.

You can get more details in these Tampa Bay Times articles by Caitlin Johnston:

Tampa Bay’s transit future: Light rail’s out. Rapid buses are in.

Tampa Bay Transit: How rapid buses left light rail in the dust.

It would seem that the Jacob’s Team is not only technical adept they are also pragmatic.

Following two disastrous attempts at referendums to fund light-rail and transit-oriented redevelopment, the Jacobs team is recommending a 40-mile BRT route that will connect Wesley Chapel to downtown Tampa and on to St. Petersburg.

The local light rail supporters are waxing pragmatic also.

From the Johnston article, "Candidly, I’m tired of talking about it," (Bob) Buckhorn said. "We need a victory. .?.?. I can say with a great deal of certainty if we move toward a BRT model using the existing interstate, we can get this done much more quickly than another prolonged debate in a political referendum about whether or not rail is appropriate for our area or not."

And St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman, "Unless we are willing to ask the public to tax themselves significantly in order to make it happen," he said, "then realistically, light rail is really not going to happen."

There are still a lot of problems to over come and the Jacob’s study will be part of a larger plan developed by the State, Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties along with St. Petersburg and Tampa.

Don’t get too excited yet we have a long way to go and those who fortunes are tied to light rail may yet still try to thwart a rubber tire based solution. More than one consultant’s report has been quietly placed upon the shelf to slowly sink from relevance.

There are other issues like the proposal in Senate Bill 1200 and House Bill 525 to take funds from rail transit and support alternative transportation systems, which could include BRT. See my Post: State wide alternative Transportation Authority More money down and old rat hole.

Once TBARTA gets their hands on these funds watch out for a “new” study to be funded that will contradict the Jacobs study as TBARTA tries to slow down any non-light rail approach.

It is almost unfair to ask TBARTA that has spent years and millions of dollars trying to get a light-rail proposal funded to switch hats and actively and professionally support the very thing they have fought for so long.

Too many years, too many friendships, too many intertwined relationships with politicians, developers, consultants and light rail promoters for the alternative transportation money and BRT to get a fair shake.

TBARTA should have never been “re-invented” by the State revising its charter; TBARTA should have been eliminated, and a new organization with a completely new staff should have been created.

Even the quotes from Buckhorn and Kriseman leave the light-rail door open and any hint of questions about the viability of BRT will send the boys running back to the tracks.

If Buckhorn and Kriseman are serious about the “need for a win” they need to get with their Pinellas and Hillsborough County counterparts and either get the $25 million from the State diverted to a different source or make sure they have enough control at TBARTA to ensure these funds aren’t spent to crash the BRT project before it gets rolling.

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER @DOC ON THE BAY.
See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Please comment below.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Kriseman off to a good start with staffing Changes

There is something unique about working for a large City

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog

Rick Kriseman has a golden opportunity to enhance his somewhat tawdry legacy by making some good additions to the staff as he starts his second term. Public service and government staffing comes along in waves, and Kriseman is at the crest of an opportunity to have a long-range impact on the City.

If you just look at the top tier of staff people that tend to change with the political winds you will see that this is a relatively small number compared to the total number of management and supervisory people on the City payroll.

The current administration faces a wave of retirements in all most all departments, including public safety.

There are a lot of people, me included; that go to work in a government planning to stay for just a short time and end up staying for their entire career. It sounds odd but it’s true.

There are a lot of reasons let me give you some of mine.

About 40 years ago an engineer I knew who worked for Honeywell, went to work for the City of St. Pete to work on some long term technical challenges the City was experiencing. A couple of years later, he contacted me and said he could use some help. I asked what the job paid when he told me I laughed and said I couldn’t afford the pay cut.

He kept needling me and about a year or so later some things turned around in my life, and I said, “Ok I can give a year maybe two, but that’s it."

At that point, my career had been in business, the auto industry, defense and aerospace and I was used to a fast pace and a lot of challenges.

I figured I could do a couple of years in public service and then get on with life. Twenty-eight years later, I retired from the City of St. Pete.

Why the stay?

There is something unique about working for a large City. A lot of people come into local or county government and find out it is a place where you can have a significant impact. These are the governments that most directly impact the public.

The fact that people hire on and stay is a blessing and a curse because about every 25 or 30 years, there is a mass exodus of institutional knowledge due to retirements. That is what is occurring in a number of Bay Area cities and counties.

Mayor Kriseman is facing one of those watershed moments in his second term and the announcements he made last week are a good start. You can get the details  from the Tampa Bay Times in an article by Charlie Frago; Tomalin’s new role tops long list of changes for St. Pete.

Looking over the changes detailed in Charlie’s article, I think The Mayor is on the right track. I hope he stays engaged in this process and makes sure the quality of the city team in terms of technology, science, management and public safety continues to improve.

There won’t be a plaque, or shiny trophy but over the next decade or so as these Kriseman hires grown and excel he will be able to see a real legacy play out.

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
See Doc's Photo Gallery at
Bay Post Photos.
Please comment below.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

My NFL protest continues – and it’s working

The NFL like all major sports leagues is more of a money machine than it is about sports.

If you have not been following my reaction to the NFL players' protest of the national anthem, here are my Posts:

The football season has been a delight for me so far.

I could not tell you who is in the playoffs, who is considered the leading favorite for the Super Bowl, what players are doing what and even the Bucs dismal season has had little effect on me.

I have managed to avoid the playoffs so far, so I have no idea who is sponsoring them or what networks they are on. My streaming service does not offer ESPN or the NFL Network, and that’s why I picked it. And, we are still avoiding products from manufacturers and companies that openly support the NFL.

As I have stated before, I don’t care if the players kneel, jump up and down or lay on the ground kicking and screaming during the national anthem, it does nothing for me regarding their purported “causes” in fact, I think it does much more harm than good.

And I certainly do not have to support the advertisers who pay the NFL loads of cash for commercials. Apparently, I am not alone.

Just in case you don’t think your decision to turn off the NFL is having an effect check out this article in Sporting News by Michael McCarthy After lousy regular season, NFL's TV ratings worsen in wild-card playoffs
I have been keeping a running total of the dollars we diverted from known NFL sponsors, and it currently is approaching $4000. Not much in the great scheme of life, but we have been out of the big-ticket purchases up to now.

The NFL like all major sports leagues is more of a money machine than it is about sports and when the money starts to dry up, the people that really make the sports money begin to panic.

Take the Super Bowl. The commercials for that along with the rates the advertisers will pay are all set over a year in advance, but the smart advertisers have a performance requirement in their contracts. Simply put a specific number of viewers, or they get some money back.

Let’s hope enough people take the Super Bowl off and send the NFL a real message.

If your reading this early Sunday why not go to a movie with the family, get the Star Wars Trilogy, NEMO or a couple of Indiana Jones flicks and watch it Sunday afternoon, with the kids, or the ultimate crank up the fireplace and curl up with the newspaper or a good book.

We are starting to make some plans for no football Super Bowl party. Not only no football but no TV period. We are thinking road trip, but nothing is firmed up yet. I'll keep you posted.

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
See Doc's Photo Gallery at
Bay Post Photos.

Please comment below.