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Rita Harris Candidate for HD 44 Questionnaire

Rita Harris

 Candidate for Florida HD 44

CFL4Transit supports champions in Central Florida who prioritize fast, frequent and reliable transit supported by our core values of accessibility, equity, and environmental justice.

Questionnaire Response

 Q1: How often do you find yourself walking, biking, or using public transit? If you mainly drive, what do you see as the barriers for yourself and our community to move towards a place that promotes sustainable transportation as viable alternatives to cars?

About once a week due to the fact that my neighborhood has a low walkability score. I am near a Sunrail Station and will use that to get downtown when it’s available. We need to make streets safer for walking and increase walkability of neighborhoods to promote transportation alternatives.

Q2: How will you work with other state elected officials and state agencies to fund and deliver transformational transit projects?

I will work to move funds from Tourism Tax Dollars into expanding public transit. I will secure other appropriations for the county to work on projects that make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists. I will appropriate funding to expand public transit service for both bus and train.

Q3: How important is having a world class transit system for the future of Greater Orlando?

I think it’s extremely important. All the major cities have robust public transit. If Orlando wants to compete it needs to be on par with other cities in the region. 

Q4: Places like LA and Kansas City are exploring free fares and many cities like Pittsburgh have introduced low-income fare discount programs. Do you think discount fares should be provided for low-income residents and should free fares for all users be considered?

I think free fares is preferrable, and I think it’s doable if it can be proved that taxpayers would spend less on transit fares than they do on constant roadway repairs. However, if it was not possible to get free fares, I would support discount fares. 

Q5: Do you support transit-oriented development (TOD), building walkable mixed use neighborhoods around transit stops and stations to create a transit supportive environment?

YES! I see the beginning of it happening and it’s exciting but we need more. Not only will Mixed-use TOD increase transit, but it will cause less sprawl by building up instead of out. The issue of sprawl is a big concern to many of the residents in this part of District 44. 

Q6:  Greater Orlando is regularly ranked the most dangerous place for cyclists and pedestrians in the country, a huge problem for transit since that is how most riders arrive at their stops. What actions and policies do we need to create safer streets for walking and biking?

First and foremost, less cars on the streets will decrease the amount of cyclist/pedestrian accidents, so let’s build our public transit system so we won’t have as many cars on the road. Next, I want physical barriers between cyclists and cars when possible. Also, more lighted-crosswalks which are proven to help reduce pedestrian fatalities, and ensure that the sidewalks are accessible and contiguous. I’ve started to walk somewhere and the sidewalk literally ended and where else can a person go but the street? Of course, sidewalks need to be wide enough for people to use as well. When elected I will work with the county commissioners to ensure that we implement policies that will broaden public transit, and fund public works projects that will make cycling and walking much safer.

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