Despite lots of free rides, Pinellas transit ridership plunge continues

Multiple and extensive free ridership programs across PSTA’s network in April failed to stem the the ridership plunge at this beleaguered Pinellas transit agency. As the Guardian reported last month, PSTA ridership for its fiscal year is at a 10-year low. PSTA offered “free rides to the beach” from downtown Clearwater during all of April, free rides on…

Pinellas County agency sued over Sunshine Law, meeting notice violations

TampaBayGuardian.Com today filed a lawsuit against the Pinellas Business Technology Services Board (BTS), alleging Sunshine Law violations and other statutory violations. The civil complaint seeks to void three BTS meetings, including tomorrow’s meeting. BTS head Marty Rose resigned on April 27th amid growing criticism from county administrator Mark Woodard. The problems at BTS have a direct impact…

Pinellas Sheriff sued over public records involving post-hurricane re-entry

The Guardian today sued Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri after he refused to provide records detailing the “lawfulness and/or constitutionality of PCSO’s Emergency Access Permit (EAP) program.” That program provides for re-entry to the barrier islands after an evacuation,  e.g. due to a hurricane. Gualtieri’s refusal came in response to a public records from The Tampa…

Congestion-creating Pinellas bus project not funded in federal budget

President Trump’s  “budget blueprint” for fiscal year 2018 calls for halting funding to transit capital projects (so-called “New Starts”), with the exception of projects that already have grant agreements in place. It also appears that no new grant agreement will be signed in 2017. Cato Institute transportation policy analyst Randal O’Toole reported on these budget implications in his…

Rowdies referendum passes 7 to 1 in St. Pete

As expected, the referendum on a lease expansion for Al Lang Stadium passed today in St. Petersburg. The Tampa Bay Rowdies want to sign a 25-year lease with the city in order to begin an $80 million renovation to the stadium. Voter approval was required first. As approximately 7:05 P.M., the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections released…

Ferry’s purpose unclear in official docs, Kriseman “Ferry’s Godfather”

The 6-month Cross Bay Ferry pilot project ends on April 30. But what is the stated public purpose of the heavily taxpayer-subsidized Cross Bay Ferry (CBF) that justifies spending public funds on it? It turns out that the answer to this and other questions were never clear to government agencies from the onset. The Guardian has previously reported…

Stone soup? Vinik wants MUCH more public funds, despite $100M pledged

Last Thursday, representatives of Jeff Vinik’s company Strategic Property Partners (SPP) met behind closed doors with Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill. SPP is seeking  to have 75% of all property taxes collected on real estate “above [SPP’s] initial $1 billion investment” in Channelside returned to it. SPP also wants additional public funds through a legislatively created special improvement…

PSTA top attorney & staff embarrass themselves, board willfully asleep

At today’s monthly PSTA board meeting, a flawed resolution that was “approved in form” by its top attorney was before the board for approval. The flawed resolution passed unanimously, as written. As explained below, there are also signs that efforts are underway to inpose light rail against the clearly and repeatedly stated will of the…

Hillsborough County commish Stacy White on land use & transportation

Recently, Hillsborough County commissioner White toured portions of Hillsborough County by helicopter with Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee. White has reportedly made “preventing unmitigated sprawl his top priority as commissioner.” The Guardian sat down with White for a Q&A. Guardian: Thanks for taking the time.  You and your wife live in Valrico on 1.6 acres of land…

Clearwater buys 1.4 acres of land, loses 6 acres earlier in same week

The Tampa Bay Times assigned two reporters to cover the City of Clearwater’s purchase of 1.4 acres of downtown land last night. However, the Times assigned no reporters to cover the city’s embarrassing loss in Pinellas circuit court earlier in the week in a matter involving 6.5 acres of land that the city had claimed it owns….

PSTA ridership at 10-year low despite partnership with Uber

The decline of bus ridership on the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) network of routes continues, despite new programs aimed at boosting ridership. At the current rate, PSTA is headed for its lowest total number of bus revenue passenger trips in 10 years. Five months into PSTA’s current fiscal year (FY), which began October 1st last year, revenue…