PSTA Launches New Service Alerts Twitter Feed

St. Petersburg, Fla. – The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) on Monday officially launched @PSTAAlerts, a new Twitter account designed to provide quick alerts, detours and updates on PSTA’s bus service.

The new Twitter feed will be continuously updated by PSTA customer service representatives who have received specialized training. As short-term delays, route detours, service interruptions and mechanical issues occur, PSTA will provide rapid updates on @PSTAAlerts to keep riders aware. @RidePSTA will continue to provide general news and updates about PSTA.

@PSTAAlerts was born from social media roundtable discussions led by PSTA marketing staff at this year’s American Public Transit Association Marketing & Communications Conference in New Orleans. Keeping riders notified of updates on PSTA’s nearly 40 routes and more than 200 vehicles is a priority for the agency.

“We are always looking for innovative ways to not only keep PSTA’s riders making 14.5 million annual boardings moving efficiently, but also to give the most up-to-date transit information possible,” said PSTA Chief Operating Officer James Bradford. “@PSTAAlerts and our creative social media usage are our latest commitments to the exceptional customer service and outstanding performance our riders expect.”

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PSTA SETS NEW ANNUAL, MONTHLY RIDERSHIP RECORDS

St. Petersburg, Fla. – The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) has set two new additional ridership records, for both the month of September and the 2013-14 fiscal year.

The 1,207,293 boardings by riders in September 2014 represents a 5.1% increase over September 2013’s 1,148,640 boardings. In fiscal year 2013-14, riders boarded PSTA vehicles 14,503,349 times, a 0.25% increase over 2012-13’s 14,467,510 boardings.

This continues a sustained, significant upward ridership trend for PSTA. The 2013-14 fiscal year’s ridership level is the highest on record in Pinellas County’s 102-year history, surpassing the 2012-13 record by more than 35,000 boardings. The new annual numbers also mark PSTA’s fifth straight year of annual ridership growth, and fifth consecutive year with more than one million boardings each month.

PSTA also continued its strong commitment to Pinellas County’s community members with disabilities through its award-winning DART service, making 318,636 DART trips in 2013-14, an increase of nearly 2,100 trips over 2012-13.

“Demand for PSTA service just continues to increase year after year, and we’re proud to be one of the only transit systems in America with consistent, strong growth, despite economic downturns,” said PSTA Chair Commissioner Ken Welch. “If folks in Pinellas County haven’t tried transit yet, there’s never been a better time than now. And it’s only going to get better, with new options and improved service through Greenlight Pinellas.”

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Wednesday 10/1: PSTA To Host First Two Of Six Greenlight Pinellas Telephone Town Halls

St. Petersburg, Fla. – The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) tomorrow will host the first two of six interactive additional telephone town hall meetings in October to share information and gather feedback about Pinellas County’s transit future.

In late July, PSTA hosted three telephone town hall meetings, during which more than 14,400 Pinellas residents participated and 150,000 Pinellas residents received informational automated telephone calls.

Residents from all over Pinellas County will once again receive the automated calls inviting them to participate, and anyone can dial in to listen and make their voice heard. Participants will be able to ask questions, both on the call and through social media channels.

The first two town hall meetings will take place on Wednesday, October 1 at 6:00 PM, immediately followed by another town hall meeting at 7:30 PM. See details below; all calls are open to the press. Media please RSVP to franco@catecomm.com.

CALL-IN NUMBER: 1-877-229-8493
CALL-IN PIN: 19878#

MEETING #1: Wednesday, October 1 at 6:00 PM
PARTICIPANTS: PSTA CEO Brad Miller and PSTA Board Chair Commissioner Ken Welch

MEETING #2: Wednesday, October 1 at 7:30 PM
PARTICIPANTS: PSTA CEO Brad Miller and PSTA Board Member Commissioner Janet Long

“When more than 14,000 Pinellas residents joined us for the first three Greenlight Pinellas town halls, we were excited that we had another opportunity to provide the information they need to decide their transit future,” said PSTA Chair Commissioner Ken Welch. “We’re looking forward to answering even more questions and gathering more feedback from people all around Pinellas County, and we hope they join the calls.”

Participants can ask questions during or in advance of the calls by tweeting to @Greenlight2014 or @RidePSTA, or on the Greenlight Pinellas or PSTA Facebook pages.

About Greenlight Pinellas: Greenlight Pinellas is a transit improvement plan incorporating feedback from the public, the business community, planning agencies, the Pinellas Alternatives Analysis and Community Bus Plan. The Greenlight Pinellas plan is a comprehensive, countywide transportation improvement proposal to help Pinellas County develop the most efficient and economically viable transit service possible.

www.GreenlightPinellas.com

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Army Lessons Help Veteran Earn PSTA Driver of the Year Award

PSTA bus operator and U.S. Army veteran Marcus Hughes prides himself on being dependable.

Dependability, he says, is the asset that most helped him earn PSTA’s highest honor – 2014 Driver of the Year. Hughes was honored with the award at PSTA’s monthly board meeting on Wednesday, September 24.

When asked about his work, the 16-year veteran driver admits it’s a labor of love. “I’ve always loved driving,” Hughes says. “I guess it was just something that I was born to do.” Driving was also his primary duty when he joined the Army in 1989. After going through Army Airborne School – also known as “Jump School” – Hughes was deployed as a truck driver for the 82nd Airborne in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm.

Considering that Marcus has not been even one minute late to work in more than six years, his supervisors couldn’t agree more about his dependability. “He’s dependable all the way around; not only for us as an employee, but for our passengers as well,” said PSTA Chief Operating Officer James Bradford. “Marcus delivers excellent service to our riders all while being helpful, respectful and courteous. He’s a model employee, an outstanding operator and best of all, a genuinely all-around good person with strong character. We and our riders are lucky to have him.”

After his time in the Army, Hughes relocated from his Panhandle hometown of Graceville, FL to the Tampa Bay area where he joined PSTA. Once on board, it didn’t take long before he was a top performer, thanks in part to the dependability and discipline honed by his service in the military.

While proud of that service, he’s also quick to point out that there are other important keys to his success. “I just try to be patient, nice and respectful to others,” Hughes said. “If you treat the passengers with respect, they give you respect as well – and that makes for a great relationship.”

When asked about Greenlight Pinellas, Hughes’ concern for his passengers is front and center. “They need buses running later in the evenings and more often,” Hughes said. “It’s stressful for them to know that if they miss a bus, they have to wait an hour for the next one, or the difficulty that second-shift workers have knowing that bus service ends before they get out of work.”

Driver of the Year Marcus Hughes

Driver of the Year
Marcus Hughes

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Letter to the Editor from Commissioner Ken Welch

PSTA Chair Ken Welch wrote a letter to the Editor of the Tampa Bay Times today.  A shortened version is now on the Times website and will be printed on Monday but Chair Welch wanted everyone to see the full text of his letter.

Please click here to see the letter: PSTA Chair Ken Welch Letter to Editor – 8-8-2014 (1)

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PSTA sets all-time record for June ridership

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) has set another all-time ridership record, as riders boarded PSTA vehicles nearly 1.2 million times in the month of June.

The 1,188,625 boardings by riders were a 4.4% increase over June 2013. This continues a strong upward ridership trend for PSTA, coming after a record year in 2013 with 14,459,180 riders. The June 2014 ridership level is the highest June on record in Pinellas County’s 102-year history, and follows record May ridership on the North County Connector route to Tampa.

“PSTA is one of the few transit systems to see continual ridership growth over the last five years including the recession, despite service cuts due to a major loss of property tax revenue,” said PSTA CEO Brad Miller. “We’re glad that demand for PSTA service is up, we thank the nearly 1.2 million Pinellas County residents, visitors, tourists and workers who made the choice to ride PSTA, and we look forward to offering them expanded service and new options through Greenlight Pinellas.”

PSTA’s single busiest route, the Route 19, has seen a 20% ridership increase over the last three years with an average ridership of nearly 6,000 per day; the Route 19 is also the longest route in the PSTA system, from Tarpon Springs to Gulfport. PSTA has also recently added additional increased service from Clearwater to the Gulf beaches, in response to high demand of beach and tourist industry employees needing to get to Clearwater Beach jobs without paying for scarce beach parking.

About PSTA: The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is the public transit provider for Pinellas County, providing more than 14.4 million rides per year. PSTA operates nearly 40 bus and trolley routes with a fleet of 203 vehicles. More information is available at www.psta.net.

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