Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is adding five trips, starting June 8, in each direction on Route 52, which runs from downtown Clearwater to downtown St. Petersburg.
ST. PETERSBURG – Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is making improvements to its bus services, beginning Sunday, June 8.
Improvements include adjusting schedules and routing to reduce transfer times and to better accommodate all-time record ridership and improve schedule accuracy.
Among the improvements is adding more buses to Route 52, PSTA’s most crowded bus route.
“We’ve wanted to make this improvement for a long time, but didn’t have the money” said PSTA CEO Brad Miller. “Property taxes make up a large portion of our operating funds and the drop in property tax revenue from the recession has limited our ability to add service.”
The agency has lost more than $40 million dollars since 2008, PSTA officials said.
Miller said that due to all-time record ridership and efficiency-related cost savings identified by staff, PSTA is now experiencing a budget surplus, which is being used to provide the long-awaited improvements to the Route 52, which runs from downtown Clearwater to downtown St. Petersburg primarily along East Bay/West Bay Drive and 49th St.
“We’re adding five trips in each direction. It will definitely help with the overcrowding on this one route and we're thrilled to improve this service,” Miller said. “But PSTA still has too many routes that operate infrequently and end too early to be reliable to our customers. It's a proven fact that increased ridership results from increases in bus frequency. That's why the Greenlight Pinellas Plan focuses on a frequent network of routes and rapid services thought all parts of Pinellas County including Northern Pinellas where the 52 doesn't run."
The Greenlight Pinellas Plan for countywide transportation improvements will be on the Nov. 4, ballot and will ask voters to change PSTA’s funding from its current .7305 mil property tax to a 1 percent sales tax, which will not be applied to groceries, medical items and limited to the first $5,000 of any purchase.
Changing PSTA’s funding method would allow for significant improvements to the county’s transit service - greatly enhancing transportation choices and options. Details of the plan, Q&A and background data are available at www.greenlightpinellas.com.
Other changes taking effect for PSTA June 8 will be new schedules that more accurately reflect bus arrival times for the Routes 30 and 23. Plus, a detour around the Betty Lane closure in Clearwater on the Route 78 will become permanent due to the popularity and increased ridership along the detour.
The new timetables are available at PSTA’s Customer Service Centers, on board the buses, via mail, and in digital form at www.PSTA.net.