Laying groundwork for more connected Pasco
By Kyle LoJacono
Pasco County Public Transportation (PCPT) opened a new way for increased east-west travel this week with the rolling out of its new Route 54.
Buses will make stops along SR 54/SR 56 from the Medical Center of Trinity to Zephyrhills City Hall weekday mornings and evenings to help move people across the county. Major stops include The Shops at Wiregrass, The Grove of Wesley Chapel and Collier Parkway in Land O’ Lakes.
It is the first time Pasco has had cross-county bus service. PCPT manager Mike Carroll said his department has been receiving requests for such a route for the last six to seven years.
“PCPT had only focused on major north-south roadways like US 19, US 41 and US 301 because that’s how people traditionally moved in the county,” Carroll said. “In recent years there have been an increased number of people going across the county for their jobs or just for entertainment.”
Carroll said the two major malls in Wesley Chapel have spurred increased travel from west and far east Pasco inward. In addition, the opening of the Medical Center of Trinity brought more jobs to the west end of SR 54.
“We want to move the most people with our buses,” Carroll said. “Bringing people to the hospital and to the malls is a big reason for the new service.”
County Administrator John Gallagher said the county plans to add additional stops, such as at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel once it opens late this year.
“We’re trying to tie the whole county together as one community, and this will help us start to do that,” Gallagher said.
The cost for a one-day pass for Route 54 is $3.75.
“That’s about what a gallon of gas costs,” Carroll said.
Carroll said the county intends to buy two new large buses and hire two new full-time bus drivers to run the route. Additional part-time employees will also be brought on board.
Buses will arrive at each stop along the route about every two hours. Carroll said the frequency would increase as buses are added in the future.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) also sees the SR 54/SR 56 corridor as a critical route for moving people.
FDOT is spending $225,000 each year until 2016 to help fund Route 54, said department spokeswoman Kris Carson. Carroll estimates the operating cost to be $380,000 to $420,000 annually.
FDOT is also conducting a study of the SR 54/SR 56 corridor between New Port Richey and Wesley Chapel to decide what other measures would help move traffic. Options include creating lanes devoted to express bus service or for carpoolers.
For more information on PCPT’s bus routes, visit www.ridepcpt.com.
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