Greenlight Pinellas Plan calls for new bus service, passenger rail, regional connections and complementary transit-oriented land use.
ST. PETERSBURG - Continuing the recent progress in developing a comprehensive modern transit plan for Pinellas County, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority Board voted 13-1 Aug. 28 to accept the Greenlight Pinellas Plan Vision.
County Commissioner Norm Roche cast the lone vote in opposition.
The vote signals an acceptance of more than three years of detailed engineering and technical work that is the foundation of the Greenlight Pinellas Plan, according to a press release from PSTA. The plan calls for new bus service, passenger rail, regional connections and complementary transit-oriented land use.
The Aug. 28 vote sets the stage for financial implementation, planning and a parallel Greenlight Pinellas public outreach process to be completed this fall. These coordinated transportation planning efforts will allow the Pinellas Board of County Commissioners to approve the Greenlight Pinellas Plan and craft ballot language this December to prepare for a 1 percent transit sales tax referendum in November 2014.
PSTA Chief Executive Officer Brad Miller detailed the proposed improvements, which include:
• Elimination of PSTA's nearly three-quarter mill property tax when the potential sales tax takes effect Jan. 1, 2016
• A 65 percent increase in overall bus service throughout Pinellas County
• Bus Rapid Transit lines on most major Pinellas corridors.
• Buses running to and from Tampa and the airport in the evenings and on weekends
• Longer service hours to accommodate second shift workers and evening travelers
• Plans for a future passenger rail from St. Petersburg to Clearwater via the Gateway area
• A four-fold increase in bus service in northern Pinellas County
“It’s not just for the people who are here today that we are trying to move this initiative forward,” said PSTA Board member and Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long. “It’s about the economy and the ability to keep our region vibrant, thriving, bustling and robust for the next generation and generations to come.”
Board members expressed enthusiasm for both the Greenlight vision and the process through which it was created.
“Every step has required an approval process…so that we’re all on board with every assumption and every piece of the plan,” said Dunedin City Commissioner Julie Ward-Bujalksi.
Board members also acknowledged that there is still plenty of work remaining before the plan goes to the voters.
“We have many more decisions to make before we move forward in November of next year, but I strongly support moving forward with this,” said County Commissioner Susan Latvala.
Belleair Bluffs City Commissioner Joseph Barkley, who said he fully supports the plan, also added some advice regarding the requested change in the PSTA funding structure.
“This is, in fact, not a tax that we’re adding on, it’s simply an exchange from one tax to another and it’s very important that people not view this as an additional tax.”
The final plan is scheduled to be presented to the PSTA Board for approval at their Nov. 20, meeting. View the Greenlight Plan as well as the supporting study documentation at www.greenlightpinellas.com.