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PSTA moving forward with Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit, despite opposition

Megan Holmes

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A screenshot from H.W. Lochner's Central Avenue BRT plan submission to the Southwest Florida Water Management System.

Plans submitted to the Southwest Florida Water Management System by H.W. Lochner, Inc. show that PSTA plans to move forward as planned with the Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) despite formal opposition from the City of South Pasadena and the City of St. Pete Beach. The BRT route is expected to open to riders in late 2020/early 2021.

H.W. Lochner submitted plans for 30 stations along a 10.3 mile route, and has removed the proposed Station 1, which would have terminated the route at the Don CeSar. PSTA agreed to terminate service at the county’s public beach access, just north of 46th avenue, combining Stations 2 and 3, in order to alleviate concerns by the City of St. Pete Beach. PSTA also agreed to use smaller buses on the route, reducing the size from 60-foot buses (the default standard for BRT projects across the nation) to 40-foot buses.

Four other stations will be located in St. Pete Beach, two on each side of Gulf Boulevard. Four more stations will be positioned along Pasadena Avenue. Along 1st Avenues North and South, stations will be positioned near 66th St., 58th St., 49th St., 40th St., 31st St., 22nd St., 13th St., Martin Luther King St./9th St., and 4th St., before the route heads south into downtown St. Petersburg.

Despite the objections of South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach, PSTA may move forward with the proposed route because Pasadena Avenue and Gulf Boulevard are state roads under Florida Department of Transportation jurisdiction, not that of the individual municipalities.

The construction of the BRT stations is particularly important to the project, as the stations will include measures unique to BRT like raised platforms for boarding, known as level boarding, which would allow BRT users to roll wheelchairs or bikes directly onto the bus, removing the need for ramps or other accessibility measures. Level boarding is a BRT best practice, along with bus travel in dedicated lanes, traffic signal alignment and pre-payment before boarding.

Engineering firm H.W. Lochner was selected in September 2018 to design the Central Avenue BRT project. The firm previously worked on transit projects with Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) and Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). H.W. Lochner was also behind the Lymmo BRT project in Orlando, an innovative “rail-like” service utilizing buses instead of light rail.

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6 Comments
here we go

6 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Robert Rothlein

    November 13, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    Love the idea.

  2. Avatar

    S. Rose Smith-Hayes

    November 13, 2019 at 4:21 pm

    If you do Not care about how we see things, why ask us???

  3. Avatar

    Evelyn Rhodes

    November 13, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    I love the new plan, because PSTA has always been my best friend.

  4. Avatar

    JOHN DONOVAN

    November 13, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    If the plan still means reducing from 3 lanes to two, then its a big mistake. 1st Ave N & S used to be four lanes. They’re St Petersburgs’ ace-in-the-hole as expressways to/from downtown. When 34 St S growth explodes, you’ll understand. See the expansions of 275 exits as current evidence. The traffic lights on the avenues are already aligned. Make it better if you can. The nice to have bike lanes took some of that 4th lane. The sad reality is their usage is statistically nil. Use that space and the parallel parking which is dangerous to passengers and side view mirrors. By all means, run as many buses as needed in the right most lane. Put up all the signage you want. Keep the cost low. Traffic can pass by buses if and where possible, like every where else in the city. 60 foot buses was overkill from the beginning when proof of demand is still scant. Bus service could be increased tomorrow with next to zero new preparations. I’m all for it. PS: I recently had a ground floor office with window facing 1st Ave S and traveled both avenues daily for 18 months. I’ve lived west and east parts of St Petersburg, and only St Petersburg, for over 30 years. The above are observations which may be inconvenient for those already polishing their shoes for the BRT ribbon cutting ceremony.

    • Avatar

      Thom Rask

      November 13, 2019 at 8:01 pm

      John, to answer your question: yes, the project will reduce general purpose travel lanes on 1st Avenues North and South from three lanes to two. This even though 75% of the time savings of an express bus can be realized through limited stop and signal prioritization.

      The reason PSTA is pushing this is to create tax rebates for developers who build along the route…many of whom are campaign donors to the politicians who sit on the PSTA board. See how that works?

  5. Avatar

    John Royse

    November 14, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    Wheelchairs and bikes on the buses was rather confusing. One gioes this still means one inside and one outside ☺️

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