In comparison to light rail travel, Gondola Systems are significantly cheaper, require a much smaller footprint, and can be installed quickly; often times with no impact on other construction efforts taking place in the same area.
Regarding costs, the per mile projected cost for developing light rail is approximately $65 million. In contrast a gondola system can be installed for the same distance and travel at comparable speeds for $17 to $34 million.
Recognition that improvements to our regions infrastructure must be made are apparent as a recent ranking system listed the Tampa Bay area as 5th worst traffic congestion within the United States. To anyone who commutes, this statistic is already obvious however to those who don’t investments providing for the long term growth of our community will have a significant number of positive opportunities. One benefit will be felt directly with the elimination of vehicles from the area roads. Last year, over 14 million visitors enjoyed everything Pinellas County had to offer and this number is expected to grow steeply within the near future. By developing additional mass transit options now, we as a community will be able to better showcase our local restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues to these visitors all while ensuring an efficient daily commute anywhere within the region.
Examples of similar systems are already available throughout the world from Portugal to Singapore and if Darryl sees this project to completion a similar system will be found within our region within the coming years. To ensure proper due diligence, Darryl and his team have held conversations with a wide array of stakeholders including individuals from the beach hotels, the educational centers of the University of South Florida, and elected officials at all levels from Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. With their support in hand Darryl is beginning to look at a timeline and implementation strategy as the future of the region’s Gondola System looks promising.
The conversation concluded with an update from Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long who emphasized the time for Tampa Bay to work together was now. She and her colleagues are in support of a shared vision for transportation projects and she expressed a strong desire for Pinellas County cities to support this system. An important testing ground will be implemented within Clearwater which will connect their downtown to Clearwater Beach with a stop at the aquarium. Not only will this seek to eliminate traffic congestion along the beach, but it will also eliminate the number of staff vehicles moving back and forth through the various shifts of the day.