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Expert touts advantages of transit
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ST. PETERSBURG - Economic leaders throughout the Tampa Bay area have labored for years to attract high-tech, well-paying jobs to help bolster our economy.

During an April 23 presentation to the PSTA Board of Directors, Darnell Grisby, director of policy development and research from the American Public Transportation Association, raised eyebrows when he noted the economic impact of high-tech jobs.

“One high-tech sector job,” he said, “can support up to six other local jobs, such as lawyers, construction workers and plumbers.”

That statistic was part of Grisby’s presentation on the changing travel patterns of millennials, as opposed to older generations, and how 18 to 34 year-olds are increasingly embracing transit use and communities that offer viable transportation options.

The data is from a recent study released by APTA: “Millennials and Mobility” and shows that younger generations are leading a trend of Americans who are returning to walkable cities and suburbs that feature vibrant public transit.

A recently corroborated trend by a separate study released by the Rockefeller Foundation and Transportation for America concluded that 54 percent of Millennials would consider moving to another city if it had more and better options for getting around. Sixty-six percent said that access to high quality transportation is one of the top three criteria they would weigh when deciding where to live.

PSTA and economic development officials believe these trends only further enforce the need to build a robust transit system to help keep - and attract new – talent coveted by high paying industries such as software, internet and scientific research.

“To be able to attract the very best people from around the country we need to have transit options,” said Mike Meidel, Pinellas County Economic Development Director.

Numerous studies over the past few years commissioned by Zipcar also show that Millennials, on average, are now more willing to give up a car than their cell phones.

“The smartphone is closing the gap between the perceived benefits of the car versus public transportation,” Grisby said. “As more transit agencies around the nation deploy real-time applications that allow customers to know - down to the minute - where the bus will be, increasingly transit users will be able to be as spontaneous as the automobile user.”

PSTA is already taking advantage of that growing trend thanks to Real Time Bus Information System, which debuted last fall. The system lets riders use cell phones, smartphones, computers or texts to find out when the next bus will arrive at their stop.

To learn more about the future of public transit in Pinellas County and to learn about the Greenlight Pinellas Plan, visit www.greenlightpinellas.com.
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