Go Pasco — Pasco County’s public bus service — is planning to use technology to enable riders to get up-to-date information to track buses in real time.
The department is going through the purchasing process and will be bringing the proposed contract back for approval, James Flaherty, interim public transportation director with Go Pasco, told members of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) at its May 12 meeting.
Flaherty also gave the board an update on current ridership numbers.
“Currently, our fixed route is down about 3% from last year. Currently, we’re projecting about 500,000 trips this year. Our paratransit is up about 5%. We’re projecting between 40,000 and 42,000 trips this year.”
Go Pasco plans to install three billboards across the county in an effort to increase ridership, Flaherty said.
The MPO board is made up of elected leaders across the county, including the Pasco County Commission and the cities of Dade City, Zephyrhills, New Port Richey and Port Richey.
New Port Richey City Councilman Matt Murphy asked Flaherty for an update on the status of a proposed study to determine where it would make sense to create micro-transit routes.
Flaherty responded: “Currently, we don’t have any studies that are being conducted. There was a potential route expansion and contraction study, within that, the micro-transit study would have been conducted.”
That study had been discussed at a previous MPO board meeting, when Kurt Scheible, was public transportation director.
Flaherty told the MPO board: “That (study) has been tabled for about two years, until an actual director is identified and we can move forward.”
But both Murphy and Pasco County Commission Chairwoman Kathryn Starkey wanted more information about the micro-transit study that had been previously discussed.
Flaherty told the board: “I’d have to look into that. I was not aware of a specific study, outside what was within the route expansion and contraction study.”
Starkey said there was discussion of looking at micro-transit in the Holiday area, and then it was transitioned over to Dade City.
Murphy added: “My understanding was that they were doing a feasibility study, to figure out where the best place would be. There’s a lot of money in that. I forget how many millions of dollars were in that, given to the state.”
Flaherty responded: “I will have to look into that.”
Pasco Commissioner Jack Mariano said if funding is available, the entire area should be studied and then, “we’d put a plan together and make decisions on what we think is most appropriate.”
Flaherty then told the board there had been issues with the procurement process, which led to delaying the study.
Starkey asked: “So, we didn’t put it back out there for bid?”
Flaherty responded that in the “2019-2020 time frame, Go Pasco attempted to do a comprehensive, operational analysis, using the MPO’s planning contract. It went to the board. It was pulled.
“A year later, a scope was provided. It went through the procurement process. There were issues with the procurement process. It’s been delayed for two years, until a new director is identified.”
Starkey: “When you say it’s delayed for two years, who decided we’re going to wait two years before we do it, we try it again?
Flaherty responded: “The county administrator.”
Starkey replied: “Well, is it his decision to that, or is it our decision?”
Carl Mikyska, executive director of the MPO, said that’s probably a discussion that should be had by Pasco County Commission or individually with County Administrator Dan Biles.
Starkey added: “Why would we wait? I don’t know why we would delay it for two years.”
Before the MPO meeting ended, Flaherty updated the board.
“That study has been pushed back six to nine months, not two years,” Flaherty said.
In other action, Mikyska told the board that there will be a presentation on the U.S. 41 and State Road 54 intersection at the board’s June meeting. He said the update was requested by the board’s Citizens Advisory Committee.
The board also appointed Geoff Lanier, of Land O’ Lakes, to serve on the MPO’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Lanier is the owner of Suncoast Trailside Bicycles, according to his application, contained in the board’s agenda packet.
Published May 18, 2022