Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is enjoying a record-setting year with ridership up more than 912,000 over last year.
ST. PETERSBURG - It’s been a banner year for public transit in Pinellas County.
An all-time record number of riders boarded Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority buses – the most in the 93-year history of public transportation in the County.
“We’ve set monthly ridership records for 11 months, so we were pretty confident we’d break the annual mark, but to break it by such a strong margin is really impressive,” said PSTA CEO Brad Miller.
From Oct. 1, 2011 through Sept. 30, 2012, an estimated 14,015,818 rides were taken on PSTA vehicles. That’s an increase of more than 912,000 over the previous record set last year.
“An annual increase of 3 percent to 4 percent in ridership is considered very strong when there are no increases in bus service. So achieving a 7 percent increase, with no change in service, is extraordinary. It is proof that Pinellas County residents want to use public transit,” Miller said.
Agency leaders attribute the gains to several factors including a new Central Avenue Trolley - launched in October 2011. That route offers a one-seat, non-transfer ride from Pass-a-Grille to the St. Petersburg Pier and quickly became one of the agency’s highest ridership routes.
Other factors include higher fuel costs for motorists, a record setting tourist season and a popular new shuttle service between the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and its Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure in downtown Clearwater.
PSTA leaders are responding to this record demand for transit by developing comprehensive plans to improve transit services in Pinellas. Public input into a community-wide bus plan is underway and transit-friendly land use planning has begun around a potential light rail transit corridor.
“The record transit ridership indicates a change in the way our community wants to travel. What we have to do, in order to get the resources needed to provide improved transportation is make sure we can present a well-thought-out, comprehensive transit plan that the entire community can be proud of,” Miller saidd.
For more information, visit www.PSTA.net or call the PSTA InfoLine at 540-1900. Access PSTA’s Real Time Bus Information site at RidePSTA.net.