PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — More than 1,000 people who rely on Pinellas County buses to get to doctor's appointments, the grocery store and work could soon lose their lifelines.
Wednesday, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority Board met to discuss possible cuts to three bus routes and reduced service to three others starting this June.
PSTA is looking at completely cutting the route 58, 22 and 814 buses and partially eliminating buses 5, 16 and 38. This will make up for an $800,000 shortfall.
The other options they're looking at: Increasing the gas tax, reallocating a portion of the county’s bed tax or raising property taxes.
PSTA says they're one of the largest and most underfunded public transportation authorities in the nation and they've reached the point where they have to consider eliminating bus routes.
“This is just a short term solution to a much bigger problem we are facing in Pinellas County. We are behind the times for getting public transportation to where it needs to be today, but also to prepare for what we need in the future as our community grows," explained Whitney Fox, who works in the PSTA's marketing department.
Carla Budd lives in Largo and relies on the bus to get to the Social Security Office, doctor's appointments and to go shopping for essential items. “This is my lifeline,” she explained. "I don't know what I'd do without it."
“I would be pretty upset if these cuts go through," Diane Drake agrees. “This is my independence. If I can’t get around, I’m lost."
PSTA will host a public hearing on April 10 at 6 p.m. on the proposed cuts. The PSTA Board expects to vote at their next meeting on April 24.