CLEARWATER – With a 260 percent increase in ridership over the past year, largely attributable to tourists drawn by the movie Dolphin Tale, the Jolley Trolley transit system needed more space for its sales and operations staff. Coincidentally, the city had a vacant building that suited the transit system’s needs.
The 4,800-square-foot building on nearly an acre at the northwest corner of North Myrtle Avenue and Hart Street had been a field office of the city’s engineering department but was no longer needed. The estimated rental value of the building is $28,000 a year. But the Clearwater City Council on Sept. 6 approved a three-year lease, with options for two three-year renewals, at a rent of $1 per year. In return, the Jolley Trolley agreed not to request increases in its subsidy from the city for the next three years.
Clearwater approves Jolley Trolley subsidy
CLEARWATER – To say that fiscal year 2011-2012 was a phenomenal year for the Jolley Trolley would be an understatement. It carried more than 600,000 riders, thereby reducing traffic on Clearwater Beach by an estimated 200,000 vehicles. It added three used trolleys and two new trolleys, including one that runs on compressed natural gas, to its fleet and has an ongoing program of technology enhancements. Advertising and local business support has risen to 19.2 percent, and the Jolley Trolley has enhanced is documentation of driver safety training and ADA compliance.
Yet, despite all the good news, the Jolley Trolley isn’t self-supporting. It is estimated that in fiscal year 2012-2013, passenger fares will cover 23 percent of the expected $614,693 of expenses, advertising will cover another 18 percent, and the rest will come from subsidies. The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority will cover 28 percent of the cost, and the City of Clearwater will subsidize 27 percent. On Sept. 6, the Clearwater City Council approved a $163,443 subsidy from the city’s parking fund.
In an effort to improve service and profitability next year, the Jolley Trolley is exploring the use of two-way GPS to improve communications with customers and among drivers without radios. It is evaluating the feasibility of adding connector routes to Safety Harbor and Westfield mall and a West Bay Drive route that connects with Clearwater Beach, “circulators” to connect passengers to regular routes are being considered, as is on-demand service.
City settles three potential lawsuits
CLEARWATER – The Clearwater City Council unanimously agreed on Sept. 6 to settle two claims stemming from automobile accidents for $50,000 each. In one, a Clearwater police car hit bicyclist Marque Chestine on April 3, 2010. He sustained several herniated discs, and a pre-existing knee injury was aggravated. He incurred medical bills of approximately $15,000 and is expected to have more medical bills in the future.
In the other, Rafal Szmyglewski was a passenger in a car that was hit by a city vehicle on June 6, 2010. He received injuries that included herniated discs, and required surgery. He incurred medical bills of nearly $100,000 and is expected to incur more medical bills in the future.
In a third claim against the city, a root blocked a wastewater pipe and caused wastewater to back up into the home of a resident whose name was not disclosed. The foyer, Florida room, office, kitchen, pantry, laundry room, two bedrooms, and a bathroom were damaged. The floor coverings, drywall, and trim had to be replaced. The claim was settled for $33,000.