Proposals lined up for alternate transit in Clearwater

- Clearwater Beach's traffic congestion and parking shortage has turned into a catalyst for discussing alternative transportation modes.

After more than one year of operation, ridership on the Clearwater Ferry skyrocketed in recent weeks. 

"If you look at the campaign as whole, for eight weeks, we counted about 34,000 people," spokeswoman Camille Hebping told FOX 13 News. "We have a lot of riders who are second time, third time riders and then we have a lot of employees who use it weekly or daily." 

The eight-week period was a new partnership with the city that provided signage, free parking and subsidized fares to ride the ferry.  The subsidies have now been continued through the Fourth of July.

Now, the Clearwater city council will hear presentations from two different "aerial propelled transit" companies.  That is the technical name for gondolas. 

Later, there may be a third presentation from local businessman Darryl LeClair, who has been showing another system to local leaders behind closed doors for two years.

All three gondola entities are touting solutions to Clearwater Beach's congestion. All three fit the definition of "aerial propelled transit" recently added to Pinellas county's long-term transportation plan. 

The plan also added bike sharing as an alternative, as well as ferries. 

"We are looking at any and all alternatives for transportation to figure out what mix and match might be most appropriate to go forward with," MPO chairman Jim Kennedy said, explaining they had to be on the list to qualify for any possible state and/or federal funding. 

"The purpose of us adding these definitions to our long range plan was to give us the ability to pick and choose what fits in what location," Kennedy said. "It's definitely not a one size fits all."

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