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Brad Miller takes PSTA’s wish list to Tallahassee

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

PSTA executive director Brad Miller is in Tallahassee on Tuesday, making the rounds with lawmakers from Pinellas County about the wish list for his transit agency for the 2017 Legislative session.

The visit has been described in somewhat dark tones by critics of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between PSTA and its cross-bay transit partners with HART. The MOU was spurred by Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long’s advocacy for more formal collaboration between the two agencies, with the opportunity to have a greater opportunity to leverage more funding from the state. But critics think it might be a first step towards a possible merger or another push for a sales tax referendum on transportation.

“They intend to use this MOU to go to Tallahassee to request funding for how to pay for Long’s proposal, and how to get the regional sales tax funded,” said Tea Party activisSharon Calvert at HART’s monthly board meeting on Monday.

At the request of HART board member Karen Jaroch, the MOU language was altered to explicitly state that the intention of the agreement is not to lead to a merger and/or sales tax referendum.

The MOU is on the checklist for Miller and four PSTA board members –  Samantha Fenger, Patti Johnson, Brian Scott, and Joe Barkley – to discuss with legislators today.

Also on the list for discussion include a funding request of $2.1 million for airport express service from Clearwater Beach to Tampa International. The goal is to have service seven days a week, running from 5 a.m. to midnight every half-hour.

There is a $1 million ask for a Clearwater Beach Busway, which would convert the raised median on Memorial Causeway Bridge to a bus lane, allowing for a Clearwater Beach to TIA connection.

And another request is for the legislature to increase transportation disadvantaged grants to urban counties like Pinellas.

Other PSTA supported positions are listed below:

  1. PSTA Bus Replacement Funds – $8M ANNUALLY
  2. Increased “Urban Corridor Funds” (Regional Routes) to FDOT District 7
  3. Express Lanes Extend to Downtown St. Petersburg or Shoulders for Buses
  4. Statewide Regulations to Encourage Uber/Lyft-type transportation options tobe available in Pinellas County
  5. Permit Community College Student Fees for Transportation
  6. Multi-Modal Howard Frankland Bridge/SR60 Interchange Funding
  7. Increase State Transit Block Grant Funding

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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