Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Healthy Air Campaign Saves Light Rail Option for Tampa Bay

Over 80 supporters of transportation choices turned out Monday June 18 to pack a 1:00 pm board workshop of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA). All wore stickers from the American Public Transportation Association that told the board  “Addicted to Oil? Try Transit” and "I Dumped the Pump for Transit", completely changing the tone of the meeting and bewildering opponents of transit, who were outnumbered 10-1.  
Working with progressive-labor coalition Awake Pinellas, Sierra Club’s Florida Healthy Air Campaign encouraged people to “Dump the Pump” by taking transit to the meeting. 20 frequent bus riders and first timers alike rode to the meeting with the media.  PSTA officials later observed that Monday's turnout of supporters of transportation choices by Sierra Club and progressive allies saved the option of light rail from being eliminated at this meeting, and moved the county closer to holding a series of community meetings on the new multi-modal plan. These meetings are needed to give Pinellas residents the opportunity to give PSTA input on how to create a multi-modal system that will fully serve people's needs.
PSTA, serving Florida’s most densely populated county, plans greatly expanded bus service, safer paths for bikes and pedestrians, and light rail to connect Clearwater with St. Petersburg and, potentially, Tampa. Going forward, neighboring counties on Florida's Gulf Coast will be able to connect to Pinellas to create a regional transit system with Sarasota and Tampa that Dumps the Pump and breaks Florida's addiction to oil.
In a region with America’s most limited transit systems, Pinellas County boasts America’s best beaches, the source of $6 billion in jobs and revenue from tourism. Moving beyond oil with new transportation choices in the Tampa Bay region will attract jobs, clean up Florida’s smoggiest air, protect tourism, and save more oil than drilling off our beaches could produce. 
Creative Loafing: Pinellas Transit Agency Moving Forward On Possible Rail Initiative