PSTA Sets All-Time Monthly Ridership Record

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Who: Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority

What: Carried more riders in October, 2014 than any previous month in agency history

When: October, 2014

Where: Throughout Pinellas County and to Tampa

How: By providing a record-setting 1,349,649 rides to area transit users

On the heels of setting an all-time annual ridership record in September (FY 2013-2014), the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority has added yet another impressive mark to its record books:  A new all-time monthly ridership mark, set in October.

To reach that accomplishment, the agency provided 1,349,649 rides last month, which is an impressive 5.5% increase over October 2013 and a 4.5% increase over the previous all-time monthly record set in October 2012.

“These records are more than just a testament to the hard work and dedication of PSTA staff, they show a consistent and increasing demand for public transit in Pinellas County and Tampa,” Says Chief Operating Officer James Bradford. “PSTA has a proud and proven history of providing efficient and cost-effective transit service and continuing that tradition remains our goal moving forward.”  Bradford says that along with increased ridership on PSTA’s standard bus routes, agency officials are seeing significant ridership increases on routes serving tourist areas such as the Central Avenue Trolley, St. Petersburg’s Downtown Looper and the Clearwater Jolley Trolley.

Agency leaders say the new records also back a trend they’ve seen many times in the past where ridership continues to rise – even when fuel prices drop. “Once people see how easy it is to ride, they tend to stay with it,” Bradford adds. “After all, gas prices may be lower, but they’re still more than $2.60 a gallon, which means PSTA riders can still save a lot of money by not driving.  Plus, now that all of our buses have Wi-Fi, riders can use their commute time for a multitude of things while someone else takes care of the driving.”

To plan a trip on PSTA,  prospective riders can use the agency’s Google Trip planner located on agency’s home page at www.psta.net or they can call the PSTA InfoLine at (727) 540-1900* to speak with a live Customer Service Representative.

***Holiday Hours***

PSTA will operate on a Sunday/Holiday schedule on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday November 27, 2014.  The PSTA InfoLine and administrative offices will be closed on Thanksgiving. Bus service and the PSTA InfoLine will resume normal operations on Friday November 28, 2014.

Media Contact:

Bob Lasher
External Affairs Officer
blasher@psta.net
(727) 540-1874 Office
(727) 580-7135 Cell

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Veterans and Active Military Ride FREE on Veterans Day

Vets

Who: Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority

What: Offering free rides to our nation’s veterans and active military on Veteran’s Day

When: November 11, 2014

Where: Throughout Pinellas County and to Tampa

Why:  To thank those who have served our country

To honor our nation’s heroes, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority will be providing free rides to active and retired members of the United States armed forces on Veterans Day, Tuesday November 11, 2014. Veterans simply need to show the Bus Operators any one of the following forms of identification proving active or retired military status:

  • A military ID
  • VA medical ID card
  • Veteran designation on a driver’s license
  • Certificate of release or discharge from active duty

The Veteran’s Day promotion applies to all PSTA fixed bus routes, including the 100X and 300X routes to Tampa as well as the St. Petersburg Downtown Looper and the Clearwater Jolley Trolley. Free transportation, however, will not be available for PSTA’s Demand Response Service, which also known as DART.

To plan a trip,  prospective riders can use the agency’s Google Trip planner located on PSTA’s home page at www.psta.net or they can call the PSTA InfoLine at (727) 540-1900* to speak with a live Customer Service Representative. The agency’s Customer Service experts are eager to help riders plan trips and answer any questions they may have. Once it’s time to travel, riders can take advantage of PSTA’s new Real Time Bus Information System to find out when the next bus will be arriving at their stop.

First time riders may also want to check out PSTA’s “how to” videos on the agency’s “How to Ride” page: www.psta.net/howtoride.php. There they can find instructional videos showing how to ride if you use a wheelchair or mobility aid, and how to bring bicycles along when riding.

*The PSTA InfoLine is open Monday through Friday from 6 AM to 8 PM, Saturday from 7 AM to 8 PM, Sundays and Holidays from 8 AM to 4:30 P.M.

Media Contact:

Bob Lasher
External Affairs Officer
blasher@psta.net
(727) 540-1874 Office
(727) 580-7135 Cell

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FREE WiFi INTERNET NOW AVAILABLE ON ALL PSTA BUSES

St. Petersburg, Fla. – Fast, convenient wireless WiFi internet is now available on all PSTA buses, as of Friday, October 31. Installation teams received and installed the final batch of AT&T wireless modems into PSTA buses and connectors by Friday morning, and testing confirmed that all vehicles in the active fleet are up and running.

Previously, WiFi was available on 20 of PSTA’s 203 vehicles. Passengers will now be able to use high speed WiFi free of charge on all PSTA vehicles to browse the Internet, watch movies, listen to music and more. The project took three weeks to complete, and installers worked late evening, weekends and overnight hours to ensure that installation would not inconvenience passengers.

“Whether commuting to work, riding to school, visiting family or enjoying America’s best beaches, PSTA’s passengers can now enjoy free high speed Internet while getting around Pinellas County safely and comfortably,” said PSTA Chief Operating Officer James Bradford. “We invite everyone to learn what 14.5 million PSTA riders last year already know, and to see what Greenlight Pinellas will deliver even more of – convenience, safety, efficiency and innovation.”

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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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