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Letters to the Editors

Public bus drivers aren't tour guides

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 3, 2002

Re: Baseball fan steps onto bus and into ordeal, letter, March 27.

I am the wife of a Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority bus driver with 10-plus years of dedicated service. I frequently ride with him. These men and women who drive for a living are not tour guides! It is their job (which takes all of their concentration) to maneuver those huge 40-foot buses through heavy traffic and get their passengers safely to their destinations on time. It is the passengers' responsibility to get to the stop on time, have the proper fare and ring the bell when they need to get off. Know ahead of time what bus you need to take. Customer service is at 530-9911. It is the job of customer service to tell you which route to take, where to get on and off, and the time to catch the bus. Read the schedules provided; they include a map of the route. There is also a phone line for the hearing impaired.

If you want a tour guide, take a taxi. Lay off these drivers. They have enough to deal with. The bottom line is, the letter writer should have gotten the proper information beforehand.
-- Deborah L. Merrill, St. Pete Beach

Research your bus trip in advance

Re: Baseball fan steps onto bus and into ordeal.

A recent letter written on behalf of a visiting bus rider reveals a misconception about travel on public transit as well as an unfair criticism of a PSTA bus driver.

The passenger traveling from the beaches to Al Lang Field was disappointed that a bus operator could not give her precise directions to her destination and suggested that transit operators be trained to do so. Leaving aside the fact that the operator may have been from the northern division driving temporarily in the southern division or new himself to the area, bus drivers commonly operate a few routes they prefer and with which they are familiar. It is impossible for them to be familiar with the details of all 37 fixed routes, and their obligation to drive safely and stay on schedule does not allow them the luxury of acting as a guide, although they do their best.

Whether traveling in Pinellas or New York, the wise traveler researches public transit in advance rather than depending on a local bus operator. PSTA schedules and maps are available on the Web, by mail, in malls, etc. as are directions by telephone. (The visitor had a relative living here.) As a last resort, timetables are usually available on the bus. The information was available for the taking and could easily have been assembled. It's unfair to expect any bus operator to possess systemwide knowledge of each passenger's destination.
-- John Royse, St. Petersburg

Baseball fans need Looper Trolley

As a Devil Rays fan and season ticket holder, I look forward to a great season with our young, talented players at Tropicana Field. In the past, I have enjoyed the convenience of parking downtown, patronizing establishments before or after games, and catching the baseball Looper Trolley to the stadium.

I was surprised to learn from a bulletin released by the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership that this service will face severe reductions during the 2002 baseball season.

According to a bulletin from the partnership's Transportation Management Organization, the baseball Looper Trolley will operate only on opening day and during home stands with the New York Yankees! Devil Rays fans, as well as those who enjoy watching the Red Sox, White Sox and all other teams aside from the Yankees -- whether occasional visitors or regular fans -- beware: Unless this decision is reversed, there will be no baseball Looper for any other games during the season. Unlike other major league communities, the Tampa Bay area lacks a comprehensive regional transportation system. You will have no choice but to park at or near the Trop, or walk quite a distance to get to the stadium.

While many fans who choose to park downtown could afford to park at Tropicana Field, some of us enjoy the many restaurants and shops in the re-energized city center. Those who work downtown also appreciate the ability to leave their cars, catch the Looper and avoid the stadium traffic after the game.

Although I know (and greatly appreciate) that the city of St. Petersburg has generously subsidized this service, I join many Looper users in supporting downtown businesses, paying to park at BayWalk or the Pier, and choosing to spend my dollars in the city. Also, for some folks on limited budgets, parking at the stadium may not be an option. With all of the talk of building support for the home team, it seems bitter and ironic that this shuttle will only be available when our Rays play the Yankees.

If you have appreciated the convenience of riding the baseball Looper, I encourage you to contact city officials and let them know of your interest in seeing this service continue. St. Petersburg residents should contact their City Council member, while those who live outside St. Petersburg should express their support for the Looper shuttle to the Mayor's Action Center, (727) 893-7111, and the Downtown Partnership, 821-5166.
-- Jim Schnur, Largo

Boca Ciega Bay shows a loss of life

For the past 16 years I have been fortunate enough to live in a condo overlooking Boca Ciega Bay. When I first moved here, the bay was alive with pelicans, sea gulls, dolphins and other birds and fish. Each year there have been fewer and fewer birds or dolphins. This year they are practically nonexistent. Watching the death of this bay has been saddening, and each year I hope in vain that some agency will undertake the restoration of the bay and its sea life.

Your paper seems to be concerned about our environment and I wondered if you are aware of anything that could be causing this deterioration. I don't know if it could be black water, red tide, raw sewage, fertilizer pollution or any other toxic material that is killing the bay, but I hope your newspaper will check into the problem and pursue a program to rehabilitate this body of water.
-- Hazel Churney, Gulfport

Keep pets from becoming statistics

I cannot help but notice the vast amount of lost pet posters in my cozy neighborhood. Each morning as I walk around my area's lake, there is a new face plastered to a telephone pole. Doesn't anyone wonder what happens to these beloved pets?

Everyone can prevent their pets from becoming lost by keeping them indoors. Would you let your 3-year-old wander outside without being watched? One recent poster really tugged at my heart because the cat was deaf and elderly. I cannot imagine that animal's fear and complete disorientation right now.

Dogs in fenced yards are stolen. They end up in illegal dog fighting rings. Cats can be rounded up and sold to animal labs. Searching your local shelter is a start, but many times this is not where they end up.

If these thoughts are unpleasant, I hope they will motivate pet owners to be more protective. Leaving your companion animal outside for just five minutes can result in yet another defenseless animal left to fend for itself.
-- Louise Kahle, St. Petersburg

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