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Letters to the Editors

Bus ridership figures can be misleading

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 28, 2002

Re: To maintain momentum, raise ridership, not fares, April 23 editorial

Editor: When this editor refers to the "leap in ridership," where did he get these figures? Does he know that they are trumped up and inaccurate? Does he know that when a passenger makes a transfer from one route to another, that person is again counted as a rider? Therefore, if one person decides to ride the bus all day changing from one bus to another, that one person can be counted as perhaps five or six riders and still paying only one fare?

Does this editor know that the "express" bus that goes from Hudson to Hillsborough is practically empty and that these riders are getting express bus service which turns out to be more like a private van service for only $1 per day?

When this editor states that he feels there should be mass transit on weekends and nights, who does he think is going to pay for these services? Who is going to pay for the new buses, the many drivers needed to be hired and trained, the fuel and the maintenance? We, the taxpayers will pay for it because it is a sham to have riders only pay 50 cents for a trip on a bus and to have transfers issued wherein a person can ride buses all day for only 50 cents.

And does this editor realize that we live in a rural area and our system can never be the same as public transportation as it exists in New York City? There, houses are very close together and there are public streets everywhere. There aren't subdivisions where buses aren't allowed to go through and people can actually walk to a bus stop.

How does this editor or the management of Pasco County Public Transportation propose for the sick and elderly to walk miles from their homes to a bus stop? These bus stops must be on main thoroughfares and not traverse through private subdivisions and it is totally impossible for people to walk that distance to a bus stop. Also, take into consideration the heat, no sidewalks, no shelters at bus stops, those who are in wheelchairs, walk with canes, those who need to do grocery shopping and then lug their bags several miles to get to their homes.

What happened to the door-to-door service which PCPT used to offer? What happens to all of the elderly shut-ins that can't get out anymore because they called for reservations so many times to be told the buses were full. They no longer call any more. These people are sick and poor and cannot afford to pay for cab service.

I feel that this writer needs to take a closer and realistic look at how the public transportation system can be improved upon and that there is a need for the fares to be increased to at least $1.
-- Kathy Benemerito, New Port Richey

Guns on school grounds dumb, dangerous idea

Editor: The creation of a new seamless code for all schools was actually the result of a constitutional amendment passed in 1998. As well as creating this seamless code, the public mandate provided an opportunity for this Legislature to again provide a little extra to groups they fervently support.

The religious right got language that allows students to proselytize fellow students on campus and the Florida NRA received language that allows guns on school property as long as they are properly secured in the students' vehicles, whatever that means.

Why did our Legislature essentially destroy gun-free schools in Florida? Well, it seems this poor child who wants to hunt or sport shoot after school must now drive all the way back home to get his gun, which, according to our legislators and Pasco supporters of the NRA, was so intolerable they are willing to sacrifice safety on our school campuses by allowing students to bring guns onto school property.

The implications of this go beyond just a shotgun locked in the trunk of a student's car. Does this now mean school superintendents can authorize students to carry concealed handguns on campus, loaded handguns in the passenger compartment of a student's vehicle and a loaded hunting rifle locked in the truck of a student's car? The answer is that no one seems to know what this imprecise language actually will allow.

It's just too bad if a student has to return home to obtain his gun. Everyone I have contacted feels the same way. I was quite shocked to read that Pasco County teacher and state Rep. Heather Fiorentino of New Port Richey approves of this language change that allows guns on school campuses.

Our Legislature is expected to settle both the religious and gun issue shortly. There is sufficient time for people to contact legislators and make it known that guns on school property, regardless of the reason, is a dangerous and dumb idea.
-- Arthur C. Hayhoe,Wesley Chapel

We all will, indeed, pay for more education

Re: We all need to pay more for school construction, April 25 letter

Editor: Letter writer Douglas Buck tries to defend greed by diverting our attention. His argument that the increased number of students in the system isn't caused by new homes is absolutely wrong. Where do they all live if not in new homes? Are 60 to 70 percent of them homeless?

His argument that the Save Our Homes assessment cap means longtime homeowners are getting an unfair break on taxes doesn't hold water either. The SOH provisions cap assessment increases at 3 percent per year. For five of the last six years the Consumer Price Index increased at or less than 3 percent. If housing costs had increased at the same rate as overall inflation, the cap would have only kicked in one year.

Since new home prices are a major factor in housing cost inflation, it is apparent those provisions were only required to control automatic tax increases caused by developers and home builders' greed. Douglas Buck can rest assured that we all will, indeed, pay more for education.

Donald Buck and other developers will make certain that happens by continuing to raid scarce resources by reaping triple digit profits on land they sell to school districts. The sad part of this is that students will not be getting a better education as a result of the increased taxes. The developers will just continue to line their pockets.
-- Dennis L. Smith, Wesley Chapel

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