President Donald Trump today announced on Twitter funding for PSTA’s controversial Central Avenue BRT project (CABRT). The project is opposed by two of the three cities it runs through. There was no news release immediately available on the Federal Transit Administration website to provide further details.
The announcement, known as an allocation announcement, is merely the first step in a long process. Today’s announcement does not guarantee that the project will actually be built. Funds were allocated to the Ft. Lauderdale “Wave” Streetcar project in February 2018, and that project is now dead.
Trump also announced funding for another seven projects around the country. The total federal contribution to all projects totals $560 million, of which $21.8 million would go to PSTA.
Today’s announcements may be election year politics where the expectation is that some of them will die on the vine after the election. While Trump no doubt hopes to gain votes with these projects, he may also lose votes due to the project’s unpopularity. The city commission’s of both St. Pete Beach and South Pasadena have unanimously passed resolutions opposing the CABRT project.
“The message from electeds in St. Pete Beach and South Pasadena is not being received or heard by decision makers in Washington, D.C.,” said Barb Haselden.
“It’s not enough to pass unanimous resolutions opposing the project, you also have to make sure they are acted on by those decision makers,” Haselden said. The cities of St. Pete Beach and South Pasadena should send certified letters to both FTA and USDOT stating their formal opposition to the project.”
Haselden led the successful 2014 No Tax for Tracks effort to keep light rail out of Pinellas County. 62% of voters nixed the so-called Greenlight Pinellas project at the ballot box.
Transit ridership in the US is expected to be 25%-35% lower than pre-pandemic levels. Reuters reported last week that “several opinion polls show Americans plan to avoid trains and buses as stay-at-home orders ease, with some city dwellers buying a car for the first time.”
In this environment, it is unclear why Trump thinks that spending money on a unnecessary and duplicative bus line that creates traffic congestion is a good idea, politically or otherwise.
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