TAMPA — TBARTA must embrace trends involving the area’s increasingly younger population and learn how to engage millennials on transportation issues, Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority board members agreed at a Friday workshop.
In addition to being attentive to a changing demographic and political landscape, TBARTA board members said they must continue to pursue speaking with one voice on a regional basis to successfully compete for funds to improve mobility and economic development.
The regional planning group, which will be joined by Polk County this summer as its eighth county member, looked forward to addressing increasing demands for better transportation as the area heads toward becoming the center of population growth in Florida in the next two decades.
Board members acknowledged they basically spoke a different language than millennials, who rely on social media for communication and have expressed interest in alternatives to automobile transportation in numerous national reports in recent years.
“We have to figure out how to talk with them and do things their way,” TBARTA board member and Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe said.
But two hours into a planned two-and-a-half-hour session that involved familiar issues and positions, Citrus County TBARTA representative Rebecca Bays, who is a county commissioner, said bluntly, “Everyone in the room is avoiding (discussing) funding.”
TBARTA Executive Director Bob Clifford responded by saying he would resurrect a discussion of federal, state and local funding sources and trends at monthly meetings this year.
Clifford also said TBARTA continues to work with CSX, which has indicated it will identify rail corridors that at some point potentially could be used for public transportation, along with CSX routes that are unlikely to be shared or possibly sold.