St. Pete Beach residents say “No” to bus rapid transit

Pinellas County

ST.PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) -Fierce opposition is growing in St. Pete Beach, among those who oppose plans to establish a “bus rapid transit” system” or “BRT.”

Passengers would board sleek new buses, on a route between downtown St. Petersburg to St. Pete Beach.

Pinellas transportation planners envision a way to get to and from Pinellas beaches, that doesn’t involve a regular bus or a trolley.

On a bus, you’d whisk 12 miles down 1st Avenue North and South, in a dedicated lane.      

But most who gathered at the standing-room-only meeting at St. Pete Beach city hall, want to put the brakes on that idea. “We don’t need to add more traffic impact to already crowded situation,” said Jim Proctor.

Proctor believes, there’s plenty of options to get around, and he worries, a transfer station near the Don Cesar Hotel would add to overcrowding.

Besides, he says so many busses run empty. “It’s underutilized now, and it’s not like the field of dreams, build it and they will come. It’s already built and they aren’t coming” said Proctor.

“BRT” is slated to get federal funding, and have 15 minute wait times.

“Everyone is saying that BRFT is gonna increase traffic.  It’s quite the opposite.  A bus takes up about same space as 3 cars and you could fit 50 people on it” said Sean Baraoidan.

A PSTA Spokesperson explains, BRT is way to plan for the future.

“What’s exciting about the BRT project is it’s really built for everyone.  So even choice riders, for people who do own a car, they want to ride.  Or even for tourists.  Instead of ubering back and forth between the beaches and downtown, they might want to take this instead,” Whitney Fox said.

The St. Pete Beach city commissioners tossed around coming up with a resolution objecting the BRT proposal.

Instead, they will meet in July and asked PSTA to provide rider data and more information.
 

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