You Can’t Get a Gallon of Gas for $2 Anymore, but You Can Still Ride the Bus

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Gone are the days of gas under $2 – for now at least.

According to GasBuddy.com, the average price for a gallon of gas in Pinellas County is between $2.44 and $2.61. That means if you have a standard, mid-size sedan, with a gas tank that can hold 16 to 19 gallons, it’s costing you around $45 to fill your tank. Compare that to the two bucks it would cost you to hop on one of PSTA’s buses, and the choice should be a no-brainer.

Unlike gas, there is never a shortage of places to go and people to see, and with some of the best attractions in Tampa Bay right here in Pinellas County, that means you are only a bus ride away.

For those on the fence about public transit, summer is a great time to give it a try. Between the Central Avenue Trolley and the Suncoast Beach Trolley, beach-hopping has never been easier. You can hop on and off from Clearwater Beach all the way down to St. Pete Beach, with a $4.50 unlimited day pass – enjoy fun in the sun without the danger of driving impaired.

Use the Real Time bus app to make trip planning easy and predictable, and if you’re under 18-years-old you qualify for a Youth Summer Haul Pass which will give you unlimited access all summer for just $35 – enough said.

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PSTA’s Youth Summer Haul Pass Launches May 1

Haul Pass
St. Petersburg, Fla. – Let the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) haul your kids around this summer with the Youth Summer “Haul Pass.”

The 15-week summer pass offers unlimited rides for youth 18-years-old and younger from Friday, May 15 through Monday, August, 31 2015, on all local PSTA and Jolley Trolley routes (excludes Routes 100X and 300X).

Wanda Ramirez, parent of a 5th grader at Seventy-fourth Street Elementary School, learned about the Haul Pass at an ESOL parent workshop about transitioning to Middle School, and called it “a gift.”

“You can go to the mall, the beach, anywhere you like,” Ramirez translated to her daughter in Spanish. “It’s one less worry.”

Passes are available for purchase beginning May 1 at PSTA terminals and on the PSTA website for just $35. All you need to board the bus with a Haul Pass is a PSTA Youth ID card, middle or high school ID, or government-issued photo ID showing age (must be 18 and younger to qualify).

“Public transportation is life for the parents and children of Pinellas,” said Branka Prodanovic-Hodzic, ESOL Family Outreach Coordinator for Pinellas County Schools. “I can tell that these families are really being helped by these types of programs.”

PSTA encourages parents to remind their children of safe-riding practices, such as always riding with a buddy and wearing bright colors at night. To stay updated on departure and arrival times, check out PSTA’s real-time bus tracking at www.ridepsta.net

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PSTA Earth Day Challenge Photo Contest

Earth-Day-Challenge

Who: Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority
What:
Invites the public to an Earth Day Challenge
When:
Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22nd
Where:
Via social media platforms: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook
Why:
To encourage the community to ride public transportation on Earth Day and reduce their carbon foot print.

Ride a bus, take a pic, and enter to win a prize!

On April 22nd, people from across the globe will be joining together to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, and what better way to honor our planet than with a Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority Earth Day Challenge.

Here it is: This year celebrate our beautiful planet by packing up and heading outdoors on public transportation. Share your Earth Day adventure with us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, and be sure to include the hashtags #EarthDayChallenge and #RidePSTA.

We will be choosing the three most creative pictures that capture riders using public transportation and the beautiful outdoors. The prize for 1st place will be a three-day, two-night stay at the Courtyard Marriot in Madeira Beach, 2nd place will be two passes to the Sugar Sand Festival in Clearwater Beach and 3rd prize will be a 31-day PSTA bus pass.

By leaving your car behind and boarding a bus you are not only decreasing your carbon footprint, but you are also showing your community that the earth matters to you.

So jump on the trolley, bus or any of PSTA’s 48 Diesel-Electric Hybrid fleet and take part of the Earth Day Challenge.

Ready, set, go!

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PSTA Driver Trades Clown Car for 40-foot Bus in State Competition

Roadeo

On a typical weekend, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority Bus Operator Maurice “Danny” Cheatham can be found wearing his uniform and name tag.

However, this particular uniform consists of face paint, funny shoes and a big, red nose. His name tag will read: Moochie the Clown.

Cheatham is a longtime member and leader of the Shriner Clown Troupe in Tampa, Florida. Driving motorized mini-cars and sporting colorful wigs, the troupe entertains young patients in the burn unit at Shriners Hospital for Children.

This weekend, Cheatham won’t be clowning around. Instead, he will be representing PSTA in the 2015 Annual Florida Triple Crown Bus Roadeo in St. Petersburg, Florida. The competition is a grueling test of skill, safety and proficiency for bus operators and mechanics.

Drivers will give it their all as they navigate and maneuver through a mine-field of cones and tennis balls, and only the best will make it through the barrel gauntlet without fault.

Zero to 20 is the easy part. The final leg of the competition requires a near perfect performance of stopping an accelerating bus at a moment’s notice and avoiding plowing down one last cone.

Drivers representing various transit agencies across Florida are competing for state title, and the chance to compete this May in the International Bus Roadeo in Fort Worth, Texas.

“This would be my first hometown big win,” Cheatham said, describing his 2014 qualifying win in Daytona Beach, Florida. “It would mean a lot for my troupe and the kids.”

Cheatham is not the only reoccurring competitor at this year’s competition. Ramon Farfan, Jacksonville Transportation Agency, has been their local undefeated-champion since 2007 and will be seeking his third state title.

Stay posted for all the latest on this year’s battle of the buses.

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PSTA Has Your FREE “Ticket” to Spring Break

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Who: The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA)

What: Offering special opportunities for riders to win free daily, unlimited-ride bus passes

When: From March 30 – April 3, 2015 (during Pinellas County School’s “Spring Break”).

Where: Select Locations throughout Pinellas County

Why:  To promote transit use and help ease the county’s annual “Spring Break” traffic jams

How:  Follow PSTA on Social Media to learn where and when the passes will be given out

For many people “Spring Break” is a magical time of year when Floridians and tourists alike enjoy picture perfect weather, award-winning beaches, spring training and tourist dollars streaming into the local economy. For others, especially our neighbors along the gulf beaches, “Spring Break” means something very different:  Traffic.

In order to help reduce that traffic congestion (and the demand for “Mom’s Taxi Service”) PSTA will be holding a special promotion encouraging transit use by offering a limited number of free, all-day bus passes. Those passes, called Daily Unlimited GO CARDS will be made available to “Spring Breakers” who follow PSTA on social media. Here’s how it will work: From Monday March 30, 2015 through Friday April 3, 2015, PSTA’s Social Media Coordinator, Alissa Kostyk, will be at the locations and times listed below. Before she heads out, Alissa will post on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (@RidePSTA) details about where people can find her and win a free bus pass. (Hint: Alissa will be holding a poster-sized GO CARD.)   Cards will be awarded to the first five people who find her and request one. The cards provide unlimited travel on PSTA (excluding the 100X & 300X routes to Tampa) for an entire day and can be used the day they are won or on any single day in the future. Winners will also be featured on PSTA’s social media.

Mon. 3/30/15 Tue. 3/31/15 Wed. 4/1/15 Thurs. 4/2/15 Fri. 4/3/15
10am Tyrone Square Mall Blue Jays Spring Training- Florida Auto Exchange Stadium Countryside Mall Pier 60 Johns Pass
2pm Tradewinds Resort Fossil Park Sundial Pinellas Park Movie Theatre Xtreme Fun Center

To learn more about PSTA, please visit the agency’s award winning website at www.psta.net.

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PSTA Sets Ridership Record for Month of February

pressrelease

Who: Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority

What: Carried more riders in February, 2015 than any previous February in agency history

When: February, 2015

Where: Throughout Pinellas County and to Tampa

How: By providing a record-setting 1,184,735 rides to area transit users

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority set its third consecutive all-time monthly ridership record last month, making for eight new records over the past nine months. February’s overall ridership was up 1.7% over the same period in 2014.  So far this year, the agency has seen ridership increase 4.6% over last year. Officials say that’s an impressive number given the recent reduction in gasoline prices as compared to the past few years.

Without expensive and widespread customer surveys, PSTA leaders say there’s no way to know exactly why more rides are being taken, but they suspect that it’s due to a combination of factors including an improving economy, record tourism and the agency’s new UPASS programs with the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg College and the City of St. Petersburg.

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.

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PSTA Drivers Enjoy Special Thanks From Officials and Riders

BradPSTA Bus Operator and 2009 Driver of the Year, Vance Wegner, couldn’t help but smile when talking about his morning shift Wednesday, which was also Transit Driver Appreciation Day. “People were coming on the bus, shaking my hand and saying ‘Thank you,’” he says. “It was wonderful.”

Vance is one of 363 expert drivers who show up every day of the year to provide safe, reliable and affordable public transit for Pinellas County residents. He and his colleagues would be quick to remind people that safely driving a 40 foot buses through some of the most crowded roadways in Florida is not nearly as easy as many people think.

“Our job is to make it look easy,” adds 2014 Driver of the Year Marcus Hughes (pictured).  “As drivers, we have to watch out for unpredictable traffic, changing weather conditions and pedestrians, while keeping our riders and others sharing the road, safe and secure.”  Transit officials say that task has gotten more and more demanding over the years as PSTA ridership continues setting new records and is now more than 14.5 million rides a year. Agency leaders say that as ridership increases, it’s harder to keep buses on schedule, because they spend more time at stops while people pay fares. A new regional “smartcard” fare system, which is in development with other transit agencies in the area, is expected to help speed the boarding process and better keep routes on time. That, in turn, helps ensure that drivers get their needed break time, which is now often sacrificed to keep buses on time.

“I love this job,” says 12 year PSTA veteran Driver Zelda Robinson. “Sure, it can be tough at times, like any job, but I love it and I love seeing my passengers every day. I take them where they need to go and they make me laugh,” she says with a smile. That positive attitude was not lost on agency leadership or riders Wednesday, as they partnered throughout the county to take a little extra time for a special “Thank you” to these skilled and dedicated public servants.

Transit Driver Appreciation Day began in 2009 when a group of transit riders in Seattle decided it would be a great way to honor the hard-working men and women who provide safe transportation options for our community.

PSTA officials also want to remind the public that it’s always a good day to pass along “Thanks” to your Bus Operators.

To learn more about PSTA, please visit the agency’s award winning website at www.psta.net.

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