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Monday, Nov 24, 2014
Pasco Tribune

Transit system seeks to expand

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DADE CITY — Pasco County Public Transportation could double its ridership by 2023, but it would take a major public investment.

Bill Ball, a consultant for the county’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, said Pasco would need to invest another $14 million over the next decade to reach the goal of 2 million riders a year within a decade.

The MPO is updating its 10-year transit plan — something it must do every five years to receive federal funding. A decade ago, Pasco’s transit system had 500,000 riders a year. It reached 1 million riders for the first time in 2008. Ball presented the MPO with two plans: the more expensive double-the-ridership option or a “cost-feasible” plan that still grows the system at current funding levels.

Both plans offer new routes and other enhancements, such as park-and-ride lots and free Wi-Fi on local buses. The first new routes would be a Wesley Chapel-USF express bus, connecting service to PHCC in Spring Hill and local service to Moon Lake by 2018.

“That’s been in the plan for some time, we just haven’t had the resources to implement it,” Ball said.

With those improvements, the system could reach 1.6 million riders by 2023, Ball said.

The more expensive option would include all of the listed improvements and later service. Starting in 2015, the cross-county service on State Road 54 would go from every two hours to hourly, including Saturday service. Beginning in 2016, all local routes would run 3 hours later on weekdays.

The Moon Lake route would launch three years sooner. “There’s a lot of residents who really need that to happen,” Commissioner Henry Wilson said.

The plan also recommends a “rebranding” of PCPT. Commission Chairman Ted Schrader looked at the title of the plan, “Access Pasco,” and thought he saw an opportunity.

“That ‘Access Pasco’ is pretty catchy,” he said.

The county is accepting public comment for the next month before commissioners vote on the 10-year plan.

lkinsler@tampatrib.com

(813) 371-1852

Twitter @LKinslerTBO

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