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City, PSTA vow to improve transit access in South St. Pete

Veronica Brezina



The intersection of 9th Ave. S. and 22nd St. N. in South St. Pete. GoogleMaps.

The struggling South St. Pete community, where the majority of residents living in poverty heavily rely on limited public transit options, will have more connections to other parts of the city and potential employers – if all goes according to plan. 

During the St. Petersburg City Council’s Thursday meeting, the council unanimously approved committing funds for a participation agreement between the City of St. Petersburg and PSTA (Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority) to initiate a South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area Mobility Study. The study will evaluate options to enhance the multimodal transportation system.

“If an area has a frequent transit service only on a few roads and lacks efficient safe walking and biking routes, it’s a tough place to live with no access to a personally owned car,” said Evan Mory, the city’s director of transportation and parking management. 

In 2021, the city and PSTA applied to the Federal Transit Administration’s AOPP (Areas of Persistent Poverty Program), which was created to improve public transportation in areas experiencing long-term economic hardships. The two groups received a $360,000 grant the following year to fund the $400,000 study. However, the federal grant requires a 10% local match at a value of $40,000. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is providing $20,000 – leaving the city and PSTA splitting the remainder, each contributing $10,000.

“This is an important study that, hopefully, we are able to embark on that will really create some guidance for us on how to truly make an impact on equity and transportation,” Councilmember and PSTA Chair Gina Driscoll said before casting her vote. “This is going to help us get people from Point A to Point B better than ever before.” 

The South St. Pete CRA, created in 2014, has approximately 32,674 residents, which exceeds the countywide averages for a racial minority population living below the poverty line and households without access to a vehicle, according to the Forward Pinellas’ 2022 Equity Assessment Action Plan. Twenty-eight percent of the CRA’s residents are living at or below the federal poverty level, and 82% are minorities (non-white or of Hispanic/Latino origin).  

“What a leveraging of such a minimal amount of financial investment to do such a good for so many,” Brandi Gabbard said, highlighting how the requested $10,000 represents a mere 2.5% of the total $400,000 cost for the study. 

The study will address multiple factors, including improving the reliability, user experience and first-and-last-mile transit connections in the CRA, enhancing micro-mobility and micro-transit opportunities (e-scooters and bike sharing), accelerating the introduction of innovative technologies that could potentially reduce vehicle emissions, and reducing barriers to affordable housing and revitalizing commercial corridors.

With the approval, the city will work with PSTA on selecting a consultant team. City staff will also assist with conducting public outreach efforts, developing a vision and implementation plan, and reviewing the initial designs and concept engineering plans.  

Councilmember Copley Gerdes commented that it is rare to see design and engineering plans included in an 18-month study. 

The city and PSTA will also consider findings from related studies such as the 2019 Complete Streets Implementation Plan, the 18th Avenue South study that’s identified safety issues within the existing CRA transportation network, and PSTA’s SunRunner Rising Development Study, which has determined more connections are needed between the SunRunner bus rapid transit station on 22nd Street and other transit stations within the area. 

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  1. Avatar

    Donna Kostreva

    March 6, 2023at7:39 pm

    Looks like a “boom town” with all the pedestrian and auto traffic! Stop wasting taxpayer funding and go door to door to ask the people what they need. You go looking for grants and try to make the actual
    Needs for the grant. Nothing improves. Ask the people what they need. Then look for funding.

  2. Avatar


    March 7, 2023at1:38 pm

    What happened to “vibrant” and “historic”???

    Are these the same transportation geniuses responsible for destroying 1st ave???

  3. Avatar


    March 7, 2023at4:40 pm

    Thank you for prioritizing transit in the Southside! This is the best thing we can do for those who rely on transit as well as for drivers in order to reduce vehicles on the road as we continue to grow. We are excited to get this study started.

  4. Avatar

    Shirley Hayes

    March 7, 2023at11:19 pm

    This is a ‘door to door’ project. What are you studying????You cannot know the needs of people without asking them. PLEASE!!!!!

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