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Pinellas residents most unhappy with mass transit and road quality

CLEARWATER — Do a better job getting me where I want to go.

That was the message from many of the 800 Pinellas residents who picked up a ringing phone in February and agreed to take a survey about county services and quality of life. The county hired a consultant to conduct the study and county commissioners reviewed the results on Tuesday.

In one part of the survey, residents were asked to rate 13 categories ranging from law enforcement to water drainage. Did they exceed your expectations, meet them, or fall below? Respondents could also say they didn't know.

The categories with the most dissatisfaction: "mass transit options" and "road and sidewalk repairs."

In the first category, 14.8 percent of respondents who live in the unincorporated areas said the services are falling below their expectations; 76.8 percent said their expectations are being met; and 2.3 percent said the services exceeded their expectations.

In the road and sidewalk category, 17.5 percent of respondents said services fell below expectations; 76 percent said their expectations are being met; and 5.7 said the services exceeds their expectations.

People who live in the county's cities and towns also were polled but the differences were not statistically significant.

The results aren't surprising to anyone who has been stuck in gridlock here, but they come at a time when mass transit is in the spotlight. Voters will decide on Nov. 4 whether to approve a 1-cent sales tax increase to pay for new bus routes and a 24-mile light rail line between St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

"Up until the economy went into the Great Recession, transportation has been the number one issue on everybody's mind for almost as long as I've been a county commissioner," said Chairwoman Karen Seel. "Now with the possible option of some transportation alternatives, that's obviously what's on people's minds, and they're expressing it."

Seel said road construction, which often requires making traffic worse to ultimately improve it, likely plays a role in the dissatisfaction.

The results also showed some dissatisfaction with the upkeep of vacant houses and commercial buildings.

All told, though, 9 of 10 respondents said they would recommend Pinellas as place to live and retire.

Tony Marrero can be reached at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8779. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.

>> Fast facts

About the survey

Surveyors for HCP Research randomly dialed land and cell phones at various parts of the day between Feb. 1 and 17. The sample results include interviews from 200 residents in each of the county's north, central, south and beaches regions. Ages ranged from 18 to older than 65; incomes spanned from less than $25,000 to more than $150,000. The survey had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

Pinellas residents most unhappy with mass transit and road quality 04/08/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 10:57pm]
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