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President Trump says $21.8 million will go to building new public beach transit system in St. Pete

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman responded to the news, saying the funds are "long awaited, much needed."

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — President Donald Trump made a surprise announcement Thursday evening regarding a new project and funding coming to the Tampa Bay area.

The president said the U.S. Department of Transportation is committing $21.8 million for a new public bus system to connect St. Petersburg to the beaches.

Trump said the buses will be "state-of-the-art" and include free WiFi.

"Will be a major help to heavily populated parts of the Great State of Florida!," he tweeted.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman responded to the news on Twitter, saying the funds are "long awaited, much needed."

He then released a statement:

"This funding has been long-awaited and is much needed. The Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit project is the first transit project of its kind in the region and our hope is that it not only makes going back and forth between our vibrant downtown and the beaches easier, but helps to move the larger conversation around regional transportation forward." 

Kriseman also shared more details on the new Bus Rapid Transit project, which the county says is the first of its kind in the area to advance with the Federal Transit Administration Capital Investment Grants Program. 

The project would be constructed through next year with a proposed 2021 opening.

PSTA said BRT is a "train-like" service with frequently arriving buses. And, most often run in their own dedicated lane.

Here's what else the BRT service has, according to PSTA:

  • Serves a limited number of stops along the route
  • Riders pay before boarding
  • Riders can board using any door instead of just the front door
  • No steps or stairs -- Raised stations give level boarding to make it easier for those with bikes or wheelchairs
  • Buses will have technology to allow communication with traffic signals

PSTA said the new service will provide an "affordable commute option for the 50,000 jobs that are located within a half mile of the project corridor."

Credit: PSTA/Pinellas County

Kriseman said the route runs through the Central Avenue corridor, South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach. According to a map from PSTA, there will be at least 31 BRT stations along the route spanning the county east to west from downtown St. Petersburg to the beaches.

The length of the route is 20 miles, and leaders proposed having buses available every 15 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes in the evenings. The proposed service runs 6 a.m. to midnight.

St. Petersburg isn't the only place in Florida or in the country that President Trump said would be getting funds from USDOT. The president said Miami-Dade would get $100 million "to connect fast-growing communities through state-of-the-art transit service."

Trump also shared news about funding going to Phoenix; Indianapolis and Lawrence; Chicago; Albany, New York; Portland, Oregon; Pittsburgh; Ogden, Utah; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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