PSTA rolls out four new electric buses

ST. PETERSBURG — Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority unveiled four new electric buses Feb. 1, meaning about half of the agency’s fleet is now electric or hybrid.

“Our electric buses now will be running in all parts of Pinellas County,” Brad Miller, chief executive officer, said in a press release. “We are committed to sustainable choices that are environmentally responsible and financially stable. Our electric bus program will contribute to improved air quality for Pinellas County residents, and it will reduce the costs of operating our fleet.’’

With the new buses, PSTA now has a total of six electric buses that are battery powered and produce no emissions. The agency also has 88 hybrid buses. That means about half of its buses are now diesel powered.

Electric buses cost less to run than diesel, are easier to maintain, and each one saves 135 tons of carbon emissions per year that the diesel bus it replaces produced, officials say. PSTA hopes to eliminate all diesel buses from its fleet within the next decade.

“Pinellas County leads the state with the largest fleet of hybrid buses and it’s this type of attention to sustainability and innovation that is literally driving PSTA and our great county forward,” added PSTA Board Chair and Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard.

Each electric bus is powered by a rechargeable, environmentally friendly battery and averages 180 miles or about 14 hours of operating time on a single charge. PSTA will save about $20,000 a year in diesel fuel costs with each electric bus, or $240,000 over 12 years.

PSTA routes to return to normal schedule

ST. PETERSBURG — All PSTA bus routes returned to their normal operating schedules on Sunday, Feb. 7, but with all service ending at approximately 10 p.m.

Passenger limits to allow for social distancing will remain at 15 plus two passengers with mobility devices per bus. Passengers should visit psta.net, for complete schedule information.

To accommodate demand caused by maximum passenger safety limits, routes 19, 34 and 52 will have temporary “COVID Relief” trips added to regular service. The additional service will be as follows:

• Route 19C

Weekday: 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Saturday: 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.

No additional service on Sundays

• Route 34C

(Service between Grand Central Station and Shoppes at Park Place ONLY)

Weekday: 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Saturday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Sunday: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

•.Route 52C

Weekday: 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Saturday: 9:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Sunday: 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

PSTA plans to continue this special “COVID Relief” service to supplement regular service on these routes until further notice. To stay up to date on service schedules, please visit psta.net.

PSTA is still requiring all passengers to wear a mask in compliance with the executive order from United States Department of Transportation and CDC.

In the middle of March 2020, PSTA announced it is enforcing rear-door boarding only, except for those with mobility devices. Rear-door boarding and temporarily going fare-free reduces crowding at the farebox and limits exposure between passengers and bus operators.

In addition, bus operators have the discretion to limit the number of riders on their bus to no more than 15 people at a given time. Lastly, PSTA is supplying bus operators with gloves, masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant.

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office celebrates School Crossing Guard Appreciation Day

Gov. Ron DeSantis designated Feb. 5, as School Crossing Guard Appreciation Day in the state of Florida.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office recognized 148 members of the county’s School Crossing Guard Program for their professionalism and tireless efforts in keeping our children safe.

Sixteen received a certificate for five years of service, five received a certificate for 10 years, five received a certificate for 15 years, one for 20 years and one for 25 years. Fifty-three received a certificate for perfect attendance.

The Sheriff's Office School Crossing Guard Program began in 1972 as a volunteer program. Through the years the program has grown to meet and adhere to the Florida Department of Transportation standards.

Currently, the team consists of 132 crossing guards who provide service to 192 school crossing posts in the unincorporated area as well as the contract cities of Dunedin, Safety Harbor, Oldsmar, Seminole, St. Pete Beach and Madeira Beach. In addition, the crossing guards provide their service at two charter and two fundamental schools within the county.

Crossing guards attend a mandatory eight-hour training session, which includes classroom and field training when they are hired at the Sheriff's Office. Returning guards attend mandatory four-hour training, which is followed by continuous field training throughout the year.

The sheriff's office is seeking applicants for full and part-time crossing guard positions. Crossing guards are tasked with ensuring the safety of children as they arrive and leave schools each day.

For more information or to apply for a crossing guard position, visit the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office recruitment page at https://www.pcsoweb.com/administration/human-resources/current-openings#CurrentOpenings.

Pinellas County Tax Collector employees support heart month

Pinellas County Tax Collector offices are showing their support for heart health and the Florida Heart Research Foundation.

For several years now, they have partnered with the Florida Heart Research Foundation for "Heart Month" which occurs each February. The offices share heart-healthy facts, wear red in support of heart health and advocacy, and raise funds for the Florida Heart Research Foundation through the sale of heart-themed merchandise and specialty license plates.

Customers who visit the Tax Collector's office this February and switch to the "Stop Heart Disease" license plate will be eligible for a rebate of up to $85.

This covers the cost of the first year of the specialty plate annual use fee, Florida's original/replacement license plate fee, and processing fees. Future renewal revenue goes to the Florida Heart Research Foundation for cardiovascular disease education and prevention. To receive a rebate check, drivers must mail a voucher form along with a copy of their receipt to the Florida Heart Research Foundation.

Customers who take advantage of this special offer also receive one free "Stop Heart Disease" gift of their choice. Those who donate a $1 or more to the Florida Heart Foundation this month will receive a special thank you gift, plus there is heart-themed merchandise available for sale, with all proceeds sent to the Florida Heart Research Foundation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of both men and women in the United States, responsible for one in four deaths. Each year, about 805,000 Americans suffer a heart attack.

The Florida Heart Research Foundation was founded in 1944 and was the first heart hospital and research center in the world. It supports cutting-edge research to save lives and funds heart disease education and prevention efforts like "Heart Month." For more information about the organization and the "Stop Heart Disease" license plate, visit floridaheart.org.