Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Finding a new route to school

When a region starts providing more efficient options for people to get around, all kinds of things are possible. Hence the recent suggestion from Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala that the Pinellas County School Board consider having high school students use public transportation instead of yellow buses. That could be one of the benefits if voters approve a one-cent sales tax increase next year to greatly expand bus service for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority and build the area's first light rail line from St. Petersburg to Clearwater. Latvala's idea has potential on several fronts.

Latvala, a board member for PSTA, isn't the only person to suggest the school district could follow the lead of other urban areas that have shifted older students to public transportation. Other communities, most notably Minneapolis and Des Moines, Iowa, where PSTA CEO Brad Miller worked before moving to Florida, have done so to transport thousands of students.

It is a particularly alluring idea for the peninsular Pinellas district, which spends $27 million in annual transportation costs and has been financially pinched because of a lack of enrollment growth. But the benefits of putting high school students on transit buses may be more than dollars and sense. New options for transporting older students could provide an opportunity to shift high schools' start times, which now come early to allow the district to run additional, later routes for elementary and middle students. Educators have long bemoaned that the high school schedule is contrary to the teenage sleep cycle and has a negative impact on learning.

Putting high school students on transit buses would also help build broader service for the community, including an emerging generation that is already less enthralled with the automobile than their parents. Driver's license acquisition among 16-year-olds in 2010 was just 28 percent, down from 46 percent in 1983, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. Even among 20- to 24-year-olds, acquisition dropped from 92 percent to 81 percent over the same period. Researchers say the trend is due to multiple factors, from more stringent laws governing teens behind the wheel, higher auto insurance premiums and fuel costs, to the Internet, which has changed how people spend their free time.

Ultimately, however, Latvala's idea only has a chance if voters agree in November 2014 to a one-cent sales tax increase to replace the property tax that currently funds the PSTA and enable the agency to raise $128 million a year and dramatically expand service. The exciting conversation about what that investment could mean for Pinellas is just beginning.

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Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

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Published: 01/16/18

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Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

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Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

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Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

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Published: 01/12/18

Editorial: Pinellas commission stands up for accountability

The Pinellas County Commission has gotten the message that it should not be a rubber stamp. Commissioners sent a clear signal this week they will demand more accountability of local agencies by refusing to approve nominees for the board for CareerSou...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Editorial: Progress on Tampa Bay graduation rates

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Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Take deal; build wall

President Donald Trump says he is optimistic a deal can be struck to shield "Dreamers," the young undocumented immigrants whose lives he put in jeopardy by stripping them of work permits and deportation protection, beginning March 5. His price, and t...
Published: 01/10/18
Updated: 01/11/18
Editorial: Trump’s reversal on drilling a victory for Florida

Editorial: Trump’s reversal on drilling a victory for Florida

The Trump administration’s abrupt reversal on its foolhardy plan to allow more oil drilling off Florida’s coastlines is a win for the Sunshine State, regardless of whether it is based more on politics than environmental concerns. Drilling poses a uni...
Published: 01/10/18
Editorial: Welcome steps toward cracking down on dangerous teen parties

Editorial: Welcome steps toward cracking down on dangerous teen parties

Getting to the bottom of the shootings that left two people dead after a New Year’s Day teen party, one a 15-year-old girl, is the job of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators so far have said that the two security guards who fired ...
Published: 01/09/18
Updated: 01/12/18