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Bus stops near mall will move

A recent accident near Tyrone Square Mall prompts a change that will take effect starting Sunday.

By DENIS THERIAULT

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 12, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- Starting Sunday, bus passengers changing lines near Tyrone Square Mall will no longer have to brave busy 22nd Avenue N to catch their buses, PSTA officials said.

Officials are moving all bus lines to the north side of the street in response to a March 25 accident in which a 20-year-old woman was hit by a car as she crossed the road after disembarking from a bus stopped on the south side.

"After the young lady was hit, we took a hard look at the station to determine some alternatives," said Roger Sweeney, executive director of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.

With bus lines on both sides of the street and some distance to walk to reach the stoplight on 68th Street, many passengers resort to scrambling across the busy, four-lane road -- illegally -- when they're in a rush.

City officials had planned on installing a special crosswalk with sensor lights between the bus stops. But Sweeney thought that idea would fail: Too many drivers wouldn't think to stop.

"It would have given passengers a false sense of security," Sweeney said.

Even the transportation and parking services director for St. Petersburg, Angelo Rao, who helped draft the crosswalk plan, acknowledged it wouldn't be completely effective: St. Petersburg is one of the worst cities in Florida at yielding for pedestrians.

"I really applaud the PSTA," Rao said. "We knew the crosswalk was not the ideal solution. This will eliminate 98 percent of the crossings."

Many bus riders echoed the complaints about a crosswalk, saying it would have provided little safety from speeding cars and inattentive drivers.

"They should keep the stops on the same side," said Jim Vogel, a 53-year-old St. Petersburg resident. "The way the cars fly here, it's ridiculous."

Sweeney said the reconfiguration will have little effect on bus service. Service will be discontinued on Park Street between Tyrone Boulevard and 22nd Avenue N, an area that a recent ridership survey showed only five people used.

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