Tuesday, October 21, 2014

No Boondoggle Plan - Fix our Roads First

Today the Hillsborough County Transportation Policy Leadership Group is meeting for the first time since their August 12th meeting where they voted to hire a transportation consultant to do "public outreach/engagement". At that meeting they voted without ever discussing what specifically they wanted or expected, how much was public outreach going to cost, how long would the effort be or who was going to pay for it.  They delegated those "minor" details to "staff".

The Eye will be at today's meeting to report afterwards.  Here is the agenda.  

As we previously posted, our county commissioners are handing Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) a no-bid contract. We reported that PB has given $50K to Greenlight Pinellas, they hosted an event in Tampa for the pro rail PAC, Yes for Greenlight last month, gave $25K in 2010 to the pro rail PAC Moving Hillsborough Forward and the former Executive Director for TBARTA, Bob Clifford, went to work for them in June.

From the agenda, the contract to PB is bigger than just validating cost estimates for the $15 Billion wish list of projects on the County Commission Transportation and Economic Development website and doing public outreach.  PB is going to write our county's transportation plan and then sell it to the public. 
Timeline for Transportation Plan (click to enlarge)
We noticed that Charlotte was conveniently left off this chart touting cities PB has apparently worked with to develop their transportation plans. PB wrote Charlotte's transportation plan that led to their light rail sales tax referendum passing and PB benefitting from the project with huge cost overruns to the taxpayers of Charlotte's Mecklinburg County.  
PB touts cities  - where's Charlotte?
Parsons Brinckerhoff is apparently going to mirror their public engagement to what was done by the city of Tampa for their strategic master plan for the urban core called InVisionTampa. George Walton from PB participated in that effort and it appears he will be leading the transportation public outreach effort for the County. Find all who participated in the InVisionTampa process starting on page 4 of their report and lo and behold Mickey Jacob, the recent HART board appointee, was a participant....Surprised?

The technique used by the MPO and the Planning Commission for gaining consensus within various groups and organizations appears was also used in the InVisionTampa process - the Delphi Technique.
To begin the workshop, the Project Team gave a presentation about the study covering the goals, schedule, and methods for public interaction. Following the presentation, a series of exercises were held. The attendees were divided into smaller, equally-sized groups.
We expect PB will use this same consensus building technique on targeted groups.  

The Communications Framework on the BOCC website lists all the "tools" they want to use for public engagement. It also states what must be the "real" agenda of the PLG - to "create a more balanced transportation system". 
PLG wants to "create" more balanced transportation system (click to enlarge)
Now look at the cost to taxpayers,  Hillsborough County taxpayers are going to pay PB via a no-bid contract almost $900K to write our transportation plan and engage the public, using the Delphi technique to build consensus within various groups and organizations.  
Cost to taxpayer for PB work via a no-bid contract
Is this the "Greenlight Pinellas" like plan for Hillsborough? 

Instead of using a PR firm, Hillsborough County will hand Parsons Brinckerhoff, who has a history of huge cost overruns, a no bid contract to do this work.

Of course this use of $900K of taxpayer dollars does NOT include the taxpayer funded marketing campaign (noted as "public education") that will ensue from taxpayer funded entities, unelected bureaucrats and elected officials. It also does not include the private sector PAC (noted as private sector advocacy) that will also ensue (like the current pro rail Yes for Greenlight PAC and Moving Hillsborough Forward PAC in 2010) filled with deep pocketed special interests who will benefit.

Every survey taken since 2010 referendum was defeated confirms the highest transportation priority in Hillsborough County is roads.  For a county of 1.3 million residents, Hillsborough County has a measly $6.5 Million for county roads in our FY 2015 budget. We can't fill our potholes or maintain our existing infrastructure. Where is this $900K of county taxpayer money being paid to PB magically coming from? $900K is almost 14% of our entire county road budget for 2015.

It doesn't take a million taxpayer dollars paid to special interest PB to figure out we need to fix and fund our roads first. We do not want to pay for another PB boondoggle plan.

Why are our roads being willfully neglected while the "powers to be" keep pushing costly transit solutions that require coercively redesigning our county at taxpayer expense?

We have plenty of champions for transit and costly rail solutions on the Policy Leadership Group. They cannot ignore the AECOM transit study done in May the Tribune conveniently failed to report about, that Hillsborough County should invest in transit solutions cautiously and prudently. 

98% of us use our roads everyday in Hillsborough County, including our buses. 

We should not have to wait years to fix our roads.  

We need a champion for our roads NOW!

Change the Behavior of Everyone

Recently the Hillsborough County Commission reappointed Karen Jaroch and Wallace Bowers to the HART board.  Steve Polzin, a real transportation expert, was not reappointed.
Polzin is not your average HART board member. Currently the Transit Research Program Director for the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) located on the USF Tampa campus, he has served in transit agencies in Dallas and Cleveland prior to coming to Tampa. His reign on the HART board was one of the longest as well, having been named to serve back in February of 2008.
Polzin is a real expert in the field of transportation, and his insight will be missed.

He was replaced by Mickey Jacob, an Executive Vice President of BDG Architects in Tampa. Jacob has been an architect in Tampa for 30 years.

Jacob has traveled the world in his architecture work, and his travels confirm everyone wants the same stuff:
"They want good transportation. They want a healthy lifestyle, great education, prosperity. Everyone wants the same stuff," he says. It's also allowed him how to see other regions handle transportation, something that nobody would dispute needs improvement in Hillsborough County.
"I don’t think anyone will disagree that we have a car-centric transportation system here, and it's a cultural issue, we have to look at the culture of our community to start to change the behavior of everyone to embrace different modes of transportation, and that’s not an easy process," he says.
"Change the behavior of everyone"?

That's interesting, if a bit alarming.  Will there be some behavioral training to ensure the masses behave as he expects? Mr. Jacob, can you elaborate on your best guidance and insight how to change the behavior of everyone so they will embrace the approved modes of transportation from the department of Central Planning?

I know that's not an easy process. It's not an easy question either.

Mr. Jacob, can we focus on improving mobility in the modes that the residents of Hillsborough overwhelmingly prefer?  How did we go from a mission of improving mobility to changing the behavior of everyone?
"I think HART is going to be the key element in our transportation strategy as we move forward in the next decade or two in the county and in our region," he told CL on Wednesday. "They are going to be an integral part of solving our mobility problem, and I think as an architect, as someone who's been involved in urban planning, I’m a huge proponent of creating the urban density necessary to support our public transition systems, and improve them, including rubber-wheel transit, rail transit. All these things that great cities have that I believe our city needs to have. And I think it’s a great opportunity to use my expertise as an architect and bring that to the board."
"I'm a huge proponent of creating the urban density necessary to support our public transition (sic) systems" ?

Hillsborough County Urban Density map

Click here for the full Hillsborough County Urban Density map.

If Jacob is a huge proponent of increasing urban density, where in Hillsborough does he support increasing urban density to support public transit... including rail transit? How many more people than the 1206 average per square mile in Hillsborough does he believe is optimal? Which neighborhoods of Tampa or Hillsborough County will he target for increased congestion densification?  Sulfur Springs or Hyde Park?  Why not improve the mobility of people where they are now?

Which is easier -- making solutions fit the problem, or making the problems fit the solutions we like? Which will be less expensive?

He's got some ideas and vision how you should live.  But it's really not the same as the same stuff we all want.

Jacob seems to prefer the world as he wants it be, rather than the world as it is, the real one the rest of us live in.  Just listen to wise men like Jacob, look in the mirror, admit your transgressions, change your behavior, and all will be fine.

Perhaps he'll change his behavior.  That should be easier than changing the behavior of everyone.

Don't bet on it.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Car Access Provides Best Economic Opportunities

Today's Tribune includes a guest commentary from Brandon attorney Gail Gottlieb, a Democrat who unsuccessfully ran against Republican Ross Spano in 2012, regarding low wage workers needing transit as a lifeline.  Gottlieb starts by obfuscating her point:
Do you resent the amount of time you spend in your car plodding through clogged roadways as you commute, shuttle kids to school and activities, buy groceries and do other errands?
The first question to Gottlieb then should be how does one commute to work, get their kids to school and other activities, buy a week's worth of groceries, run to the cleaners, stop by a neighbor or family members home, all in one day using transit? They can't. Perhaps that why 98% of residents in Hillsborough County do some or all of these activities everyday using their mode of transportation choice - they drive.

Gottlieb points out the need by low income households who see "public transportation is truly a bread-and-butter issue" and then refers to a study by the left-leaning Brookings Institute:

According to the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, although the working poor spend a much higher portion of their income on commuting than other workers — 6.1 percent vs. 3.8 percent — the working poor who drive to work spend the most: 8.4 percent of their paltry pay.

Even worse, in the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the country, 700,000 households without access to a car also lack any access to public transportation. For these families, work must be reachable on foot, by bicycle or through the assistance of a neighbor willing to drive them on a regular basis to one or more jobs that may have no regular schedule.
However, Gottlieb was neglectful in her analysis because a few more google searches would find more information regarding access to cars and job opportunities. This New Geography article includes a NBC News report about car loan programs providing independence for low income workers:
A car means Hubbert no longer spends two hours each way to and from work in suburban Atlanta. It means spending more time with her 3-year-old daughter — and no longer having to wake her up at 5 every morning so she can be in the office by 8. It also means saving hundreds of dollars each week in day care late fees she incurred when she couldn’t get to the center before its 6:30 p.m. closing time. 
“There was just no room to relax, no room to breathe. It was always just go, go, go, go, go,” the 24-year-old single mom told TODAY’s Erica Hill about a life dependent on public transportation and family who could provide her with rides. 
Car loans for low income workers
“The number of job opportunities that are available in the car circle is about four times the number of opportunities that are available in the bus circle,”

“A car really is a freedom and economic driver for them,” Faulkner said.
The New Geography post also states:
A study by the Brookings Institute finds that, among the ten leading metropolitan areas in the US, less than 10% of jobs in a metropolitan area are within 45 minutes of travel by transit modes. Moreover, 36% of the entry-level jobs are completely inaccessible by public transit. This is not surprising given the fact that suburbia houses two-thirds of all new jobs.
The mismatch between people and jobs can be reconciled in two ways: car loans and car-sharing services. Basic car-sharing involves several people using the same car or a fleet of cars, as with the ZipCar. The concept has branched out to on-demand car sharing services, such as Lyft, mobile apps which link riders with drivers.
The Brookings Institute study also reports "The typical metropolitan resident can reach about 30 percent of jobs in their metropolitan area via transit in 90 minutes." Their agenda is also clearly stated:
Metro leaders should coordinate strategies regarding land use, economic development, and housing with transit decisions in order to ensure that transit reaches more people and more jobs efficiently.
Does this sound eerily familiar to what we keep hearing from the Hillsborough County Transportation Policy Leadership Group? Do we have to pay to redesign our county to increase transit ridership?

Gottlieb missed this July National Journal article How Car Ownership Helps the Working Poor Get Ahead
This March, the Urban Institute released a statistical analysis of federal data that found a link between car ownership and employment. Researchers took a look at federal data collected on two groups of low-income people who received housing vouchers in the 1990s and early 2000s.
"The families who had cars were more likely to get access to high-quality neighborhoods—and they were more likely to get jobs if they didn't have jobs already, and keep jobs if they already had jobs, than those households who did not have cars," says Rolf Pendall, director of the Urban Institute's Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center. Access to public transit was associated with keeping a job but not with getting one. 
Marty Schwartz, president of Vehicles for Change, says that about three-quarters of clients who acquire a car through the organization get a better job within a year, and see an income boost of about $7,000.
This Urban Institute post in April (which was cross posted at CityLabs blog) states:
Housing voucher recipients with cars tended to live and remain in higher-opportunity neighborhoods—places with lower poverty rates, higher social status, stronger housing markets, and lower health risks. Cars are also associated with improved neighborhood satisfaction and better employment outcomes. Among Moving to Opportunity families, those with cars were twice as likely to find a job and four times as likely to remain employed.
Even as highly educated millennials and baby boomers fantasize about car-free cities, car access is still indispensable for many families seeking safety and economic security.
Gottlieb ignores data confirming access to a car provides the most economic opportunities, especially for low income workers. She ignores "Transit use outside New York actually “declined in absolute terms last year.”  

Gottlieb ignores car charities who have provided thousands of donated cars to struggling families nationwide. She ignores car sharing and ride sharing services and other innovations  coming out of the private sector such as autonomous vehicles.

If Shetara Brown was provided the opportunity to have access to a car, would she have more job options, more job opportunities and easier commutes for work, day care and doctor's appointments?

Gottlieb failed to ask that question.

USF Medical School in Downtown Tampa?

The downtown Tampa powers are piling it on heavy to bring the USF Medical School to downtown Tampa.  Recently, Lightning owner and downtown impresario Jeff Vinik, who's been buying up land around downtown, especially around the home of the Lightning, Amalie Arena, offered land in downtown Tampa to USF Medical school.
Vinik, the Tampa Bay Lightning owner who also controls dozens of acres of land in downtown Tampa, has offered to donate nearly an acre of land to the university — if the new Morsani College of Medicine and the USF Health Heart Institute are built there, USF spokesman Adam Freeman said Wednesday.

The land is at Channelside Drive and Meridian Avenue, Freeman said.
The Tampa Tribune endorsed the concept today.
Discussions are underway to move USF’s medical school and perhaps other health-care programs to downtown Tampa.

Such a move would transform the city’s urban core, galvanizing Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s effort to make downtown bustle day and night.
There really is no plan.  It's just a concept, and a donation of "nearly an acre of land" from Vinik.

USF Health moving downtown?
The mayor of (apparently only downtown) Tampa, Bob Buckhorn, is clearly behind the concept, as it will bring untold prosperity to downtown.

Again there is no plan, no financial impacts, no master development plan for the surrounding downtown areas.  Just a concept of if we build it, they will come.
But locating a medical-school complex downtown would likely cause an explosion of urban development, attracting more residential towers, health-care companies and other enterprises, restaurants, retail shops and such.

An urban school would complement nearby Tampa General Hospital, USF’s own downtown Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation facility, and would become the anchor for Lighting owner Jeff Vinik’s plans to redevelop the Channelside area.
Is moving the medical school about improving medical training?  Or is it more about economic development downtown and further lining the pockets of Jeff Vinick and other downtown developers?

Removing medical school facilities and jobs from the northern USF campus can only subtract from the north Tampa - USF area economy. Notably, it will be much cheaper to develop the new/improved medical school on or near the USF, and much less disruptive to the faculty, staff, and students.

Building the medical school downtown on an acre or two will be very expensive. The only option will be to build a tower -- building up is much more expensive.  Developing downtown will likely take more time than developing on the USF campus.  Not to mention other downtown roads and infrastructure that will have to be altered or built to support the project (or any large scale future project for that matter, which we do not uniformly reject).

Also, don't forget the medical school properties themselves will not pay taxes. Any move downtown will take valuable tax generating properties off future tax rolls.

Besides, it's not as if the USF area is currently barren of leading medical treatment and research facilities -- Florida Hospital Tampa, H. Lee Moffitt, Byrd Alzheimer Institute, the James A. Haley Veterans Administration are all on the campus or within walking distance of the USF campus.

Additionally, the Tampa Innovation Alliance is supportive of the further investment in and around the north Tampa and USF.
The effort to rejuvenate a downtrodden area that happens to house some of Tampa’s most vital institutions will get a new perspective with outgoing Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Mark Sharpe joining the campaign.

Sharpe will serve as a consultant to the Tampa Innovation Alliance, a group formed by powerhouses in the fields of entertainment, education and medicine – Busch Gardens, the University of South Florida, Moffitt Cancer Center and Florida Hospital Tampa.
In other words, its an economic zero sum game, possibly worse.  Moving the USF medical school downtown will remove more property off the tax rolls, which will not happen if USF expands the school on campus.  Developing downtown will also be much more expensive.  Someone will have to pay for it.

It may get interesting watching the downtown proponents battle it out with the north Tampa Innovation Alliance as this deal further progresses.

Will Vinik pay for the reconfiguration of roads and infrastructure, and the excess costs of building a medical school tower, or will the taxpayers?

What else is missing in any of the discussions about relocating the medical school to downtown?

Is it the best option for improving the medical training for the future medical students?

It's not yet a plan, much less a "done deal".

Perhaps they should consider the consequences before developing this any further rather than more mindless cheerleading for downtown Tampa.

Downtown Tampa is not the only area in Hillsborough where the economic development and jobs are important.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cannot Trust Brad Miller or PSTA - Vote NO!

PSTA CEO Brad Miller again shows bad judgment and now there is more proof Mlller and PSTA knew they were misusing DHS transit security funds.

Miller is supporting a boycott of businesses who oppose Greenlight Pinellas the Sunbeamtimes blog reported yesterday.
The Greenlight Pinellas team is using bully tactics to punish Greenlight opponents and suppress support.
The Transit Union workers posted a call on their facebook page calling for a boycott of Crabby Bills on Indian Rocks Beach and Tiffany’s in Palm Harbor based on their opposition to the highest sales tax in the state for the Greenlight Pinellas plan. In what many have viewed as an inappropriate action, PSTA CEO Brad Miller endorsed the boycott by “Liking” the post on Facebook.
The Transit Union page told their union member bus drivers to give the message to their “patrons”. Thus is appears the Union worker’s goal is to abuse their position as a government employee to tell bus riders what business are “union-approved”. 
Sunbeamtimes blog post included the Facebook page post Miller "liked". 
PSTA CEO Brad Miller endorses boycott
of business opposed to Greenlight
The Tampa Tribune picked up the story today.
Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority CEO Brad Miller is under fire again, this time for appearing to endorse a boycott of businesses opposed to Greenlight Pinellas. 
Miller liked a Facebook post made by the transit workers union that called for union members not to refer people to two local restaurants that supported Greenlight foe, No Tax for Tracks.
When asked by the Tribune about this, Miller reacted by stating this:
“I really don’t think that is a major issue; I can’t even remember doing it; it was 11 o’clock at night,” he said.
Miller can't remember what he does...What kind of excuse is that? I am expecting the dog ate my homework any day now. This deception appears to be a pattern of behavior by Miller and this incident proves again that Brad Miller will do ANYTHING to ram the Greenlight rail boondoggle onto the backs of taxpayers.

Just breaking tonight related to the misuse of the DHS transit security funds, is another report by Channel 10's investigative reporter Mike Deeson which continues the latest lies and deception by Brad Miller and PSTA (emphasis mine):
Shocking emails have been uncovered by 10 Investigates showing the PSTA plotted to misspend a federal grant to promote its upcoming transportation ballot issue Greenlight Pinellas, and now Congressman David Jolly is calling for Homeland Security to investigate.
Pages and pages of emails we obtained through a public records request show that instead of using hundreds of thousands of dollars of Homeland Security money to make the buses safer, PSTA had a plan to advance its transportation initiative that goes to the voters in November.
While Welch tried to pass off the misuse of federal money as an honest mistake, the emails show it was intentional.  
In one email Director of Marketing Janet Recca stated, "We were able to leverage our federal grant dollars and further Greenlight efforts." 
In another, Miller says of the ads they must have the Greenlight logo. "I insist on this and won't approve payment on anything else."  
And another Miller again says, "And I know you [referring to Chief Development Officer Cassandra Borchers] and Janet have heartburn about how this grant is being used[...] we can easily add some stuff about your beloved security."
These latest incidents are just another reminder of how PSTA and Miller operate:
  • PSTA/Miller uses $400K of taxpayer dollars last year to hire a public relations firms to create the Greenlight Pinellas brand.  This brand was used to target specific groups, friendly to their rail cause, to lobby Pinellas County commissioners to place the rail referendum on the ballot.
  • PSTA/Miller did a bus study last year and PSTA knows they can improve their bus service at a fraction of the high cost of light rail. Check out this interview with Barbara Haselden.  She explains the results of PSTA's own bus study which confirms the need for PSTA to do due diligence for improving their bus service, not asking for a huge tax increase for a costly light rail few will ride.
  • PSTA /Miller uses another $400K of taxpayer dollars and other PSTA resources this year to advocate and market a tax increase that will benefit PSTA.  PSTA buys and hands out campaign yard signs throughout Pinellas county at PSTA and other taxpayer funded agencies. PSTA calls doling out campaign signs and other campaign/marketing trinkets "education". PSTA distributes their taxpayer funded literature at Pinellas libraries and colludes with other taxpayer funded entities like St. Petersburg who includes Greenlight Pinellas glossy brochures in their water bill.

  • PSTA/Greenlight Pinellas uses elected officials, who have dollar signs dancing in their heads, and the elected officials bully pulpits, to advocate for the over $100 million a year tax increase. 
  • PSTA and Brad Miller wraps their PSTA buses with Greenlight Pinellas ads for which they receive ZERO revenue while refusing to allow NoTaxForTracks to BUY some bus wraps and actually pay for them providing revenue to PSTA.
PSTA wraps their buses with their own at their
 expense their own Greenlight ads
  • PSTA decides they don't like all the Public Records Request they started getting from concerned citizens since pushing the Greenlight boondoggle and decides to publicly name all who have submitted a PRR on their website.  Public outrage forced them to take that information down.
  • PSTA's CEO Brad Miller colludes with the private pro rail PAC.  On taxpayers time and dime, Miller spoke at the pro rail PAC Yes for Greenlight kickoff event held in February.
PSTA's CEO Brad Miller speaks at pro rail
PAC's kickoff event in February
  • PSTA's CEO Brad Miller was caught lying on a video from the PSTA June 25 meeting that DHS had approved the use of the DHS transit security funds (go to 11:15 in video).  DHS never approved the Greenlight Pinellas "feel good" ads as we previously reported here that included reports by Channel 10's Investigative Reporter Mike Deeson.  PSTA/Miller misused those funds and Miller was forced to hastily return the $345K to DHS, hoping the issue would simply go away. It didn't.
  • Our previous post also provides a quick recap of PSTA activities since Brad Miller was hired by PSTA in July 2011. 
PSTA's CEO Brad Miller encouraging and endorsing a boycott of those businesses who oppose Greenlight and the "shocking" emails admitting Miller knew PSTA was misusing DHS transit security funds is proof that Miller and PSTA simply cannot be trusted

Miller and PSTA cannot be trusted with a 14% sales tax increase that hands him and his corrupt agency a $100 million a year tax increase.

Brad Miller continues to be found lying and Miller needs to be fired.

PSTA needs new management and it's board a complete housecleaning.  

The answer to PSTA and Brad Miller's poor judgment, unethical and possibly criminal behavior is simple.

Vote NO on Greenlight Pinellas boondoggle!

Brad Miller - You Just Can't Trust Him



I know it seems like piling on, but Brad Miller, PSTA CEO's latest gaff in the GreenLight campaign just continues to high light how poor his judgment really is.

You can read the details in Christopher O'Donnell St. Petersburg Tribune article: PSTA chief in hot water for liking Facebook post.

Miller just can seem to keep his fingers out of the political side of the house. Take a look at this youtube post Joint Powers Authority  from a while back as Miller tries to virtually eliminate the PSTA Board.

I cannot conceive what someone with Miller's lack of respect for the rules will do when he becomes head of Pinellas County's most powerful redevelopment agency which is exactly what PSTA will become if GreenLight passes.

What continues to amaze me is the PSTA Board's reluctance to rein Miller in. Maybe they are already afraid of him.

Just over 30 people have contributed over $800,000 to become Mr. Miller's best friends. And there is every indication that Mr. Miller will find a way to repay their generosity.

You probably can't afford a seat at that table, but you can put a stop to all of this with a NO vote on the sales Tax Referendum. It's the last item on the back page of your ballot.

Know before you vote. Read the documents you put in force if you vote YES on Green Light Sales Tax Ordinance and The PSTA/ Pinellas County Inter Local Agreement.

E-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net. Or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook and Twitter.
Disclosures: Contributor to
No Tax for Tracks

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Rail or Die!

Would anyone support a road that cost $2.5B with a forecasted, estimated ridership of 24,000 per day?

No.

Would anyone support a rail that cost $2.5B with a forecasted, estimated ridership of 24,000 per day, such as is proposed for Greenlight Pinellas?

Yes.  Why do you ask? Just look at SunRail in Orlando.  It cost $1.2B, now has less than 4,000 riders per day. Orlando's future is now so bright!  We must catch up!

Mention rail, magic will happen when its built. Disaster awaits if it is not built.

Robert Trigaux of the Times is the latest to bump his head on something hard as he jumped with both feet into the rail bandwagon today.
On the surface, these maps of Tampa Bay, Denver and Pittsburgh — all metro markets of similar job size — display the relative challenge of getting to a job via public transit.
But what these three maps really indicate is economic mobility. If you're looking to get ahead, to start or advance a career, where would you rather live?
In Denver, where 20,467 jobs are reachable, on average, within a 30-minute commute by foot and transit leaving between 7 and 9 a.m.?
Tampa Bay only has 6,865 transit accessible jobs.  But he does not define the boundaries of Tampa Bay, which is either a body of water, or 2 - 7 counties depending on... whatever you want Tampa Bay to mean.

He states "These are not academic exercises", then cites a University of Minnesota academic exercise which the basis of the story.  

Trigaux turns pessimist about jobs, the "Young adults with talent and ambition will absorb the message of these maps " which may be kind of hard, since the maps posted on the web version of the article are totally unreadable. The young adults may seek brighter prospects in more transit accessible locales such as Denver and Pittsburgh. He also suggests that companies will prefer locations with transit for accessibility to workers.

Here's one of the maps the Times attempted to reference


Number of jobs with 30 minutes of walk and transit
in Pinellas County
Click here to view the full map.

Here are some observations Trigaux downplays or could not be bothered with:

The biggest factor in employment accessibility is population density, especially larger downtowns with much higher employment density, that make it easier for transit to transport workers to fewer locations.  Hillsborough and Pinellas do not have the single highly dense work centers or downtown or density to support levels he's cited. Tampa Bay ranks pretty high on the dispersion and sprawl indices.  At least he does admit that some cities such as Atlanta have "ample mass transit" and scores worse than Tampa Bay on jobs accessible with transit, so there's something else at work here.


Pinellas population density
Click here to see the full map and play with the data.

An eyeball comparison of the population density and distribution and the jobs accessible by transit suggests at least a strong correlation.  That is, the reason there are fewer jobs in the area near transit stops could be that the jobs are relatively dispersed in the overall area.

How about we check our assertion above that "larger downtown" business districts with higher employment density affect this type of study.
Tampa-St. Petersburg Downtown Employment:  30,450, about 2.5% of the metropolitan workforce
 Pittsburgh Downtown Employment: 92,010, about 8.4% of the metropolitan workforce
Denver Downtown Employment: 119,565, about 9.5% of the metropolitan workforce 
Interesting data that supports our assertion cited from here (PDF).

Transit commuters make up a very small percent of the workforce, averages are around 2% such as in Hillsborough and Pinellas, exclusive of the largest cities, of which Tampa Bay is not. Exactly what do 2% of commuters have to do with the rest of the real world workers? 

How many of those workers with 30 minute transit accessible jobs actually take transit to work? 

How many more jobs are within a 30 minute commute by car?  Isn't that a relevant comparison, since most people have made that choice?  How many more jobs are workers be able to chose from in a 30 minute commute by car?  We're all about choice, and choice for more and better jobs, right?  It's a point we've made before.

Even the numbers Triguax cites in the piece illustrate there is NO correlation between employment and transit accessibility.  
When compared to all 46 metro markets, Tampa Bay ranked 21st in total employment but fell to 33rd in accessibility. In contrast, Denver ranked 20th in employment while soaring to ninth in accessibility — reinforcing the multitude of reasons that city is a magnet to a less car-obsessed generation of millennials. Pittsburgh ranked 22nd in total employment and also 22nd in accessibility.
In other words, Tampa Bay's employment is about the same as Denver and Pittsburgh, despite the other cities transit accessibility.

What, exactly, is his point?

When Greenlight rail proponents can't defend building a $2.5B (likely over $3.3B with interest payments) light rail for 24,000 daily riders, they paint a picture of pending disaster.

Trigaux concludes:
But the conclusion remains unchanged. Lacking an efficient mass transit system, this metro area runs a serious risk ahead of getting shunned as a place of thinning economic opportunity.
This is the same argument made over and over again, as it was in Hillsborough in 2010. This argmument made some of our otherwise bright and reasonable business and political leaders talk as if Hillsborough County was at the gates of hell, and would sink right in if we did not pass the rail ballot initiative.  Now they're doing it again.

Rail thinking has damaged their ability to reason.