Tampa Bay area residents are becoming more transit-friendly

12/27/12 Janelle Irwin
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A Tampa Bay Times poll released today shows that a majority of Tampa Bay residents would be OK with spending tax dollars on light rail in the region.

Fifty-six percent of Hillsborough County residents polled said they would support using public funding for mass transit like light or commuter rail. In Pinellas County 60% said they’d be on board.

The poll comes after voters in Hillsborough rejected a transit-tax referendum that could have included light rail. Now planners in Pinellas County are considering putting a measure on their ballot to collect a penny sales tax to fund a mass transit plan that includes light rail connecting Clearwater to downtown St. Pete.

Kevin Thurman is a political consultant heading the group Connect Tampa Bay. He says the poll shows hope for passing Pinellas County’s transit overhaul.

As for Hillsborough County, Thurman says the changing perceptions on transit could be a signal for officials to re-introduce plans.

Pinellas County transit officials have been taking time to inform voters about proposed improvements to public transportation. The light rail would connect Clearwater to the Gateway area near Ulmerton and I-275 and continue south to downtown St. Pete. The plan would also improve bus service around train stations.

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