Survey: many voters not aware of Pinellas transit plan - FOX 13 News

Survey: many voters not aware of Pinellas transit plan

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CLEARWATER (FOX 13) -

A grassroots organization called People's Budget Review [PBR] is worried about a proposed transit tax referendum set for November.

"I think a great deal of the community of registered voters are really not understanding, at this point, the comprehensive nature of the Greenlight plan," organizer Aaron Dietrich said, referring to a mass transit plan called "Greenlight Pinellas."

PBR claims it surveyed more than 1,600 residents and discovered more than half of the respondents were not aware the plan calls for more buses running more frequently for more hours, including weekends.

However, more than half of the people had at least heard about proposed light rail service connecting downtown St. Petersburg to downtown Clearwater.

"There's a widespread lack of awareness over what the plan really includes," Dietrich said.

Pinellas County now funds mass transit with a property tax that generates roughly $30 million a year. The ballot issue calls for replacing the property tax with a sales tax that would generate roughly $125 million a year.

Several Chambers of Commerce and other business interests have formed a political action committee called "Yes For Greenlight," which confirms the need for voter education.

"That's a fair assumption that half are unaware of...Greenlight Pinellas" campaign manager Joe Farrell told FOX 13 News. "But they are aware of the issue, of transit in this community and how important it is."

Farrell said the formal campaign will probably ramp up over the summer.

"You will see some paid advertising for this campaign, but you're also going to see other things," Farrell said. "We're going to go door-to-door and we're going to make sure we are at the Kiwanis Clubs and the VFWs and whoever else will have us."

PBR's campaign will rely more heavily on social media and grassroots contacts. Both efforts will be countered by a citizens group called "No Tax For Tracks," which successfully repelled a proposed transit tax in Hillsborough County.

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