November 21, 2013

Fla.'s PSTA bus, light rail plan approved

The St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s (PSTA) board of directors formally endorsed a transformational, countywide, transit improvement initiative with a 14-0 vote.

The "Greenlight Pinellas Plan," as it is called, is the result of years of research, community outreach and regional partnership. Plan elements include a comprehensive, countywide bus improvement plan and a light rail project from Clearwater to St. Petersburg via the Gateway/Carillon area.

The bus portion of the Greenlight Plan is the result of an extensive operational analysis performed by San Diego-based Transportation Management and Design, which also included widespread public outreach known as the PSTA Community Bus Plan.

The light rail element is the result of two-year Alternatives Analysis study that has been nationally recognized as a model for regional partnership. Partner agencies in that project include PSTA, the Florida Department of Transportation, the Pinellas Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority.

“Some out there keep claiming that Greenlight Pinellas is just about the AA and rail, but it’s not,” says County Commission Chair and PSTA Vice Chair Ken Welch. “It includes a far reaching, countywide bus improvement plan as its foundation.”

If voters approve funding for the plan, leaders say the improvements will be phased in over a 10-year period with all elements up and running by 2024. During that period, PSTA officials say they will continue partnering with business, community and governmental leaders to ensure the transparency and accountability of the project. Those efforts will include the interactive website GreenlightPinellas.com where the community can get regular updates on the plan as well as giving input and asking questions.

Citizen oversight committees will also be created to help monitor and guide the project and they will report directly to the PSTA board of directors.

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