Quest for Light Rail Chugs Along

TAMPA -

The legislature may have run commuter trains out on a rail from Orlando. But it will make little difference to efforts to get commuter rail in the Tampa Bay area. That's at least according to a couple of lawmakers who are trying to get mass transit on track.

Two bills that would have given TBARTA its first infusion of money were stopped cold in the recent legislative session. One would have steered a portion of a surcharge on rental cars at airports - which now goes to a transportation trust fund - to regional transporation authorities throughout the state. The other was to have a local referendum to increase the rental car charge by two and a half dollars, with the money going to local transportation agencies.

Lawmakers were successful in passing a bill that gives TBARTA $2 million in startup money - that's if the governor doesn't veto it. Last year, Gov. Crist nixed $1 million for the agency's first year. It's had to rely on staffers on loan from the state Department of Transportation.

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