USF study reveals transportation crisis in some areas

Some families spending 40% of income on transit
Posted at 5:52 PM, Dec 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-08 17:52:04-05

A transportation crisis is now hitting some Tampa Bay areas neighborhoods hard.  

A year-long project from USF's Center for Urban Transportation Research has just uncovered that many people are having to walk or ride the bus more than 45 minutes just to get to work, and often in tough conditions. 



Shanice Smith is one of those people who doesn't have a car and struggles to get to work  

"The timing, the trying to get across the road when you get off the bus," Smith said.

She lives in the University Area near USF, one of the local neighborhoods now considered at risk. Many of the road Smith walks don't have sidewalks.

"It's way harder," she said.

The research project found other local communities like this including parts of East Tampa, Palmetto, outside Dover and more.

It also found people living in these areas are often struggling to make ends meet and are spending more than 40 percent of what they make just getting from place to place.

"Not having a car is like a long ways to the bus stop, said Annette Barrow, a University Area resident. "And when you get to the bus stop, it's a long wait for that."

Barrow said most people here are forced to walk along this street and then will often ride the bus for nearly an hour trying to get to work or the store.

"How can we ensure that the needs of everyone in the community are being addressed, not just those of us driving on the regional highway system?" said Kristine Williams,  Program Director of Planning and Corridor Management at the USF Center for Urban Transportation Research

The USF Center for Urban Transportation Research is working with Hillsborough County leaders who can use this information about struggling communities to get them money and resources.

"So that people can meet their daily needs without necessarily having to drive everywhere," Williams said.

People who say they have no option but to walk. Or ride the bus say this could really make a difference.

"It would help a lot because it would be easier, safer travel for us who walk to get where we need to go," Smith said.

Williams says the goal is for the county to bring attention to areas in need. She also said things like fixing sidewalks and improving transit will make things more affordable for everyone.

The county could also use this data to set goals for a long-range transportation plan that will be assessed again in 2040.