For immediate release: February 12, 2013
Who: Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA)
What: Sets all-time ridership record for month of January
When: January 2013
Where: Throughout Pinellas County and Tampa
How: By giving more than 1.2 million rides last month
PSTA’s monthly record-setting ridership streak continues! For the 15th straight month, the transit agency has set a new record for the number of boardings. Last month riders took 1,220,421 trips in PSTA vehicles –an 8% jump over January 2012 (which was also an 8% gain over January 2011). For the fiscal year, PSTA is averaging a whopping 12% increase over 2011-2012. “Industry experts say that a 3 to 5% annual increase is a very strong gain for a transit system, so posting increases as high as we’ve seen over the past year is really remarkable,” says PSTA Board Chair Jeff Danner. “Plus, the fact that we’ve posted 15 straight monthly records shows that demand is soaring.”
In fact, PSTA leaders say the increased demand is now leading to overcrowding on numerous routes. “We’ve had standing-room-only buses during rush hour on several routes for years, but now we’re seeing similar loads throughout the day and at times that used to be considered low-ridership,” says PSTA spokesperson Bob Lasher. Because the agency has been using reserves for operating expenses since the recession hit, it doesn’t have the resources to increase bus frequencies. “We’ve gone through a $40 million dollar reduction in property tax revenue since 2008, so we simply don’t have the option of increasing service right now,” Lasher adds.
In order to meet the demand for service, agency leaders are asking the Pinellas County Commission to place a sales tax initiative on the November 2014 ballot. If approved by voters, that new funding source would allow the agency to offer more frequent and later bus service . PSTA is conducting a study of the current bus network to help streamline service and maximize resources. This analysis will ensure that Pinellas County residents are getting the most efficient and economically viable transit service possible. To learn more about the Pinellas Community Bus Plan and to participate in a survey, visit http://busplan.psta.net.