What was supposed to be a routine meeting over changing some Bay Town Trolley routes turned into a heated discussion. It led to some questioning the future of the the Bay County Transportation Planning Organization's overseeing the trolley system.
The controversy escalated as the TPO was discussing changes to several trolley routes.
While the Bay Town Trolley is the county's only public transportation system, critics say it inconveniences the public. They say increases in ridership has led to an increase in traffic congestion. To alleviate some of the congestion, the TPO board reduced routes two, three, and five, moving some stops away from major intersections and into more residential areas.
But that wasn't the solution for route one, which serves Lynn Haven. Some residents were opposed to the changes, particularly involving Hwy 77 and Pennsylvania Avenue.
"You have walkers, you have joggers, it's just an unsafe situation to keep the trolley on the residential streets, it needs to stay on (Highway) 77" said one concerned resident.
Lynn Haven Mayor Walter Kelley was not convinced that was the answer."We do not need to put that trolley back on Highway 77 because we're getting too many complaints, it's stopping and starting during rush hour and I think it's in the most safe place we can have it right now".
At one point Bay County Commissioner Mike Thomas criticized the Northwest Florida Regional Planning Council Management of the trolley service and asked the board to move it to another agency's supervision.
"We should get some facts and figures, find out exactly what the North West Florida Planning Council does for us, what it cost us over the last year or two, and then we would be better prepared to make a decision like that." says Guy Tunnel.
The TPO formed a committee to address the issue. The group will present its findings to the board at a future meeting.