Riders climb aboard a diesel-electric hybrid SmartBus.
ST. PETERSBURG - Elected officials, PSTA Board members and agency staff gathered outside the PSTA Administrative Headquarters Dec. 18 for a “virtual ribbon cutting” to mark the roll out of eight brand-new diesel-electric hybrid SmartBuses, some of which are being used in a new Wi-Fi test program.
“We’re not only celebrating the addition of new buses to our growing fleet of hybrids, but we’re also celebrating a new test program for providing free Wi-Fi service for our passengers,” said PSTA CEO Brad Miller. “We have outfitted 10 vehicles with Wi-Fi systems and so far the project is going very well.”
The pilot Wi-Fi vehicles are running along six different routes and officials say that if the initial successes continue, they could have the entire fleet outfitted with free Wi-Fi access within the next six months.
Miller said the Wi-Fi service is just one of many improvements planned for the transit system to help give the community a better, more productive and more enjoyable riding experience. To demonstrate the Wi-Fi system, officials downloaded a video of a ribbon being cut and played it on a big-screen TV in lieu of cutting an actual ribbon.
With the addition of the eight new hybrids, PSTA now has 40 of the fuel efficient buses out of a fleet total of 188 full sized vehicles. Additionally, eight more hybrids are on order and scheduled for delivery in late 2014.
The diesel-electric vehicles average a 56 percent increase in fuel economy over standard diesel models and the new buses will be replacing older non-hybrid vehicles that have reached the end of their 12-year life span.
Weekday PSTA ridership posts strong gains
ST. PETERSBURG – Officials from the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority saw strong gains in weekday ridership last month – compared to November 2012. The transit agency provided an average of 46,765 rides every weekday in November 2013, which is a 2.3 percent increase over the same month last year.
Total ridership was PSTA’s second highest ever for the month of November. More than 1.14 million rides were provided, continuing strong ridership trends posted by the agency over the past several years.