Who: The Dunedin City Commission
What: Endorses the Greenlight Pinellas Plan
When: February 6, 2014
Where: At regularly scheduled City Commission meeting: 542 Main St, Dunedin, FL 34698
Why: To improve public transportation throughout Pinellas County
Pinellas County’s new plan to significantly improve public transit picked up another critical endorsement this evening. Leaders from the city of Dunedin voted unanimously to endorse the transformational, county-wide transit proposal known as the Greenlight Pinellas Plan. “One thing I’m excited about is that this is a comprehensive transportation plan, not just one mode or one area. We’re putting the right kind of transportation in the right communities throughout the county,” said Dunedin Commissioner and PSTA Board Member Julie Ward-Bujalski.
“It can’t be understated as to what the increased frequencies and later service hours will mean to our community,” added Mayor Dave Eggers after hearing details about the bus service improvements in the plan.
At the heart of the proposal is a ballot measure set for the November 4, 2014 election asking voters to approve a funding change for the county’s transit system – PSTA – from its current .7305 mil property tax to a 1% sales tax (not applied to groceries, medical items and limited to the first $5,000 of any purchase). That change would allow for significant improvements to the county’s transit service, and vastly increase transportation options throughout the county. Details, Q&A and background data can be found at www.greenlightpinellas.com.
If approved, Pinellas residents will see a 65% increase in bus service including:
- Buses running more frequently and for longer hours of the day – especially on weekends.
- Service to Tampa at night and on weekends including TIA and Westshore.
- Buses running every 15 minutes along core routes and every 30 minutes on the supporting network
- Park ‘n’ Ride lots
- Limited stop express lines
- Circulators connecting neighborhoods to the primary transit corridors.
Those enhancements will then form a foundation of quick, easy connections for a future passenger rail line from St. Petersburg to the Gateway/Carillon area and to Clearwater.
The recession has reduced PSTA’s property tax revenue by more than $40 million dollars since 2008, however, service cuts and streamlining and record-setting demand have led to a 23% increase in bus ridership over the same period. To help prevent further cuts in service, the agency is using reserve funds to accommodate the record ridership. If the Greenlight measure doesn’t pass, those reserves will be depleted by 2017, forcing a 28% cut in bus service.