Pinellas transportation task force gets citizen input

07/20/10 Doris Norrito
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:

Pinellas County residents were invited to give their opinion on the future of transit in Pinellas. A Transportation Task Force workshop was held at Bayside High School in Clearwater. The Task Force is made up of people from local government, construction, businesses and non-profits. Representatives listened to ideas for the future of mass transit. About sixty citizens attended.

"We're here tonight to hear what the public is thinking about mass transit and transportation in general. Everything from our roads, to light rail, to buses, to sidewalks, to bicycle trails. We had a nice turnout tonight, but not too many people spoke, which surprised me. I was hoping that we would have people just lined up and ready to give their opinion."

Task Force member and Pinellas County Commissioner Karen Seel spoke about the rail connection between Orlando and the Pinellas Beach area.

"As we've been saying, with the high speed rail, it truly is a game changer because we're going to have hundreds and thousands of people come from Disney and Orlando, to Tampa. Yet, they're really going to want to go to the beaches of Pinellas County. We're trying to plan in advance, so that we can connect people either through our bus system, pick them up through the rail stations before we have our own light rail or a better mass transit system."

The purpose of the federal stimulus package was to create jobs. Task Force members are working with representatives from area planning and transit agencies to formulate practical and fiscally sound transportation recommendations. Citizens, like international transit consultant Wilfred Sergeant of Largo, were encouraged to attend and offer suggestions.

"I had some counter arguments on what they said. In particular, the comment that was made is that the North American driver is wedded to his automobile. I would have said, from personal experience, I know, that if you provide a competitive transit system, I mean a system that is better than driving the automobile, they will happily park and ride. I've lived through that experience."

For more information about the future of transportation in Pinellas, call Commissioner Seel’s office at (727) 464-3278.

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