Greenlight Pinellas: Redefining boundaries for working class families

BY DR. KANIKA TOMALIN, Deputy Mayor

ST. PETERSBURG –The City of St. Petersburg, Pinellas County and the emerging Tampa Bay region are facing a critical test regarding our shared future. As we define the future of transit in our community we determine just how far many in our community will be able to go – literally and figuratively.

 This November, voters will be asked to:

  • Eliminate the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s property tax,
  • Increase bus service by 65 percent,
  • Add bus rapid transit lines in most major Pinellas corridors,
  • Add longer service hours for existing transit options and,
  • Imagine a sophisticated transit future that includes passenger light rail.

Through Greenlight Pinellas, we are being asked to choose our future, and the future we want for future generations of Tampa Bay area residents.

Unfortunately, much of what the passage of Greenlight Pinellas would mean for each of us has been lost in the noise of politics. It is important that our community takes time to understand important facts about Greenlight Pinellas and the direct and immediate impact it will have on working families across Pinellas County.

The passage of Greenlight Pinellas would serve middle-class, working-class and lower-income families well. An improved bus system means more options for people with single-car households.

Bus wait times will be dramatically reduced to 15-20 minutes in the most frequently used areas, making commuting via bus much more practical. Buses will also run later in the evenings and more often on weekends, which will make a big difference for those who work hours other than 9 to 5. And the customer experience for bus riders will be dramatically improved with new shelters, Wi-Fi, and real-time route information.

For those without access to a car, Greenlight Pinellas creates employment opportunities that reach beyond the restrictive boundaries that currently exist.

As transit lines are developed after the passage of Greenlight, population and employment growth patterns will begin to change around station areas and at stops along bus corridors. This means more people – and more jobs in our community. The increased diversity of housing and employment opportunities will attract recent college graduates, young workers, and others who want to live and work in more urban areas.

The new transit network we want to build generates positive economic activity, with a return of $4 for every $1 invested in public transportation. Smart transportation policies are a part of any good economic development strategy. Businesses locate and expand in areas where they have access to a mobile workforce.

Greenlight Pinellas is expected to cost $2.2 billion over 10 years, though the costs of not acting are far greater. This plan will be paid for by a 1% transportation sales tax, in addition to PSTA’s current federal and state revenue streams. It is important to note that this new system is not built on the backs of the poor or economically disadvantaged. The sales tax does not apply to groceries, medicine, or other items not subject to the regular sales tax. About one-third of this plan will be paid for by tourists who visit our region.

A modernized transportation system is critical for our region, working families and the economically disadvantaged. The transformative Greenlight Pinellas plan renews our entire region, and dares us to imagine an innovative, creative and competitive community that honors our past while pursuing our future.

For more information on the Greenlight plan, visit www.GreenlightPinellas.com

One Reply to “Greenlight Pinellas: Redefining boundaries for working class families”

  1. Sylvia Nagel says:

    Purposed ideas and budgets such as the article dictates never ceases to amaze me. Politicians have a way to spin the top talking points into a luxury that would benefit all. It never does in reality. The poor in St. Pete and in Tampa is growing at an alarming rate. There are three times more homeless in St. Pete, three times more poor families living in and around St. Petersburg. Where is the assistance to bring the poor back up to working class poor? Instead what some politicians are doing, is embarking on this idea that the Green light project will open more jobs and create a sense of “new beginnings”. It will not help the poor in any way, but cost them more for living. The poor includes today veterans, elderly, families with children. They are being forced to pay higher rent even on subsidized housing. Their fixed incomes are suppose to support the added taxes, food, utilities, and medications. This has not been possible now for several years. Each time a politician in either county claims a “new way”. These are the folks at the bottom of the chain that get hit the worse. Another way to help bring back the allure of St. Pete is for the government there to take better care of their citizens. St. Pete has also the largest homeless population, fall out from the police ordering the homeless out by slicing through their given tents. Have forced St. Pete residents to come to Tampa for a better chance at the simple life. Here is the problem with that, by having St Pete’s poor community moving out of St. Pete. St. Petersburg government officials are basically saying to the poor: “if you can’t afford it leave”. Making the issue not just a St. Petersburg problem, but a dual county problem.
    I truly believe that change must be implemented from the bottom up, not the top down. Start with the working class poor and poor families, build the city up from that tax bracket. I also believe in doing it this way; it not only stops the onslaught of wasting money for the higher classes, it would be distributed more balanced towards what is going on in the city to better everyone.

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