CLEARWATER – In continued efforts to ease traffic congestion on Clearwater Beach, city officials have moved forward with plans to further utilize alternative travel options during peak seasons.
During a work session on Jan. 30 at city hall, council members approved funding in the amount that would not exceed $50,000 that would extend Jolley Trolley services during Spring Break, ostensibly from Feb. 24 until April 30.
The plan is a collaboration of efforts by Clearwater city staff, the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.
“We have been working with your staff to look at ways to get people to the beach during spring break and look at a multi-modal way to do this,” said PSTA Chief Development Officer Cassandra Borchers, who told council that the new plan will enhance the city’s park and ride program while minimizing cost.
The plan calls for an extension of services already in place, Borchers said. The trolley will pick up beachgoers at three locations in downtown Clearwater – The Garden Street parking lot, the Harborview Center and the city hall parking lot.
The seven-day-a-week plan will allow travelers to take the trolley to the beach free of charge, but they would have to arrange to pay for a ride back on either the trolley or the ferry, Borchers said.
“We think this is important enough for the economy of Pinellas County and getting people to the beach that we think giving a free ride at these lots is the right thing to do,” Borchers said.
Council members were in favor of the plan.
“The purpose of this is to take some of the congestion off the beach and to have free parking and a free ride to the beach, you really provide an option for spring break,” said Councilman Bill Jonson. “I really think this is great.”
Mayor George Cretekos was likewise pleased.
“There are a lot of people who say we don’t do enough to promote alternative means of transportation to the beach and that we don’t advertise these options,” Cretekos said. “So now, in addition to providing free parking on the weekends, we will be providing free bus service. What a deal.”
Logan Mosby is editor of the Clearwater Beacon. She can be reached at lmosby@TBNweekly.com or by calling 727-397-5563, ext. 304.