Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pinellas Votes Unanimously to Move Transit Forward

Sierra Club Press Release

January 23, 2013                                                          Contact: Phil Compton  813-841-3601

PSTA Board Votes Unanimously to Move Pinellas Forward Towards Transportation Referendum
Supporters Pack House, Outnumber Opponents 3 to 1
(St. Petersburg) After a full morning of public comment from a standing room only gathering, the Pinellas Suncoast Transportation Authority (PSTA) Board of Directors voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend to the Board of County Commissioners that Pinellas County move forward with a 2014 public referendum to fund a significantly expanded transportation system.

This vote is viewed by supporters as a critical step forward towards creation of the full range of transportation choices the Tampa Bay community needs:
•             light rail connecting downtown Clearwater to downtown St. Petersburg, with a path through the Gateway area that can easily connect across Tampa Bay to Westshore, Tampa International Airport & downtown Tampa.
•             buses that run much more frequently, taking riders wherever they’re going faster, eliminating the need to consult bus schedules as buses will run as often as every 15 minutes on popular routes.
•             bike lanes & sidewalks that will make streets safer throughout Pinellas for everyone, including our kids.
In a recent poll by the Tampa Bay Times, 60% of Pinellas residents said they supported public financing for light rail compared to just 33% against. Today’s huge turnout of proponents vs. opponents of a comprehensive transportation system was consistent with the findings of the Times' poll.

The themes of freedom, choice, options, and democracy were heard throughout the remarks of dozens of speakers, representing a diverse cross section of the county. From concerned citizens to Chamber of Commerce leaders to environmentalists, a community consensus emerged that our most pressing need is to invest in a comprehensive transportation system that will grow our economy, reduce consumer expense, relieve congestion and clean up Florida’s smoggiest air. All of these goals can be achieved by providing residents and visitors with the full range of choices that most Americans already enjoy in metro areas the size of Pinellas County.

Sierra Club’s Regional Representative Phil Compton was the last of 38 supporters of transit to speak, telling the board “We appreciate the dozens who spoke today, as well as the dozens more who didn’t but still made their support clear to the board by wearing a sticker that told PSTA to ‘Try Transit’. It’s time to finally remove this enormous barrier to our county’s economic growth and quality of life as we move beyond our dependence on oil while cleaning up our unhealthy air”.

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Sierra Club’s Florida Healthy Air Campaign is dedicated to helping build a community consensus for movement beyond our dependence on oil, and is located at our new Net Zero Energy building at 1990 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL 33706

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