St. Petersburg, Fla. — Yesterday, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) unveiled an innovative new program to serve disabled passengers, including veterans.
The new mobility on demand program will be possible thanks to a federal grant the agency recently received, with strong support from Congressman David Jolly and Congressman Gus Bilirakis.
“PSTA applied for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) ‘Mobility On Demand Sandbox’ grant earlier this year with the vision of bringing on-demand paratransit services to Pinellas County,” says PSTA’s CEO Brad Miller. “We’re excited that we’ll be able to launch this innovative program for our riders!”
Paratransit services provide more than 12,000 people with disabilities, including veterans, with rides to doctors’ appointments, work, school, and other critical destinations. This curb-to-curb service is tailored for those who, because of their disability, are unable to independently use the regular, accessible PSTA buses. Last year, over 275,000 trips were provided.
Through the existing program riders must schedule a reservation at least 24 hours in advance to get picked up by a sedan or wheelchair van. The new program, the first with federal support, will allow paratransit riders to call the same day to get a ride, enjoying mobility on-demand thanks to partnerships with transportation technology innovators like Lyft.
“FTA is helping the transit industry develop innovative and equitable approaches to integrate MOD tools with their services,” said FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers. “These grants will demonstrate ways to incorporate MOD business models into transit systems across the nation, highlighting best practices that may ultimately improve connections and make it easier for travelers to get where they want to go.”
To provide the best service possible, PSTA will be working with these partners:
- Provide both ambulatory and wheelchair services
- Launch new WAV services through community partnerships with local WAV fabricators, their customers (many of whom are Veterans), and PSTA
- Transloc, Inc.
- Overarching technology integration platform to assist in creating appointments and deploying them in the most efficient manner
- United Taxi
- Provide an equitable option for ambulatory passengers with limited access to technology and rides requiring cash
- Provide an equitable option for wheelchair passengers with limited access to technology and rides requiring cash
- University of South Florida, Center for Urban Transportation Research
- Analyze and develop comprehensive performance measures that can be replicated to programs nationwide
Congressman David Jolly says, “Pinellas citizens can be very proud of what PSTA is doing to find new ways to provide innovative transportation solutions, especially for individuals with disabilities. The approval of their DOT Mobility on Demand Sandbox Grant proposal shows what can be accomplished when the federal government supports the innovation of our community leaders, local small businesses, and top of the line research institutions like USF’s Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR). PSTA will be a national leader in leveraging new technologies to make transit work for all members of our Pinellas community.”
Congressman Gus Bilirakis agreed, saying “This award shows that PSTA is always thinking outside the box for better transportation ideas to help our citizens.”
PSTA is recognized nationally as an industry leader in bringing new ideas, new technologies, and new innovations to public transit, including a first-in-the-nation partnership with Uber.