Tag Archives: PSTA

Help Us Test “OneBusAway”

oba_logoPSTA has partnered with USF and Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) to add our Real Time Bus Info to an app called OneBusAway. This app will give PSTA riders one more way to use the Real Time system (texting, auto-voice call, and website are still available).

We’re looking for riders to help us test the app — How does it work for you? Are you getting accurate Real Time info? How do you feel about the interface?

Want to help? Download the test app from one of these links, give it a try, and tell us what you think using the help/feedback function in the app.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Thank you,
The PSTA Technology Team
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Filed under Projects, Real Time Bus Info, Transit Data, Transit Services

PSTA Partners with Uber and United Taxi

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is partnering with Uber and United Taxi to help address a very common barrier to public transit use: easy access to a bus stop. Often called the “first mile, last mile” conundrum, transit agencies all across the U.S. find that getting riders to a bus stop is the first step in turning them into public transit users.

“Once we make it easy for someone to get to the bus stop, riding the bus becomes a real transportation alternative,” says PSTA CEO Brad Miller. “PSTA is always looking for ways to deliver value to our riders and the community, and this partnership with Uber and United Taxi does exactly that.”

direct connectPSTA’s new program, called Direct Connect, allows riders to use Uber (in Pinellas Park) or United Taxi (in Pinellas Park and East Lake) to travel within a specific geographic zone to or from a series of designated stops. From there, riders can connect with the regular PSTA public transit bus system. On the return trip, they can use Uber or United Taxi to travel from the designated stop back home or to work (within the zone).

With this unique partnership, the first of its kind in the nation, PSTA will pay half the cost of the Uber or United Taxi ride, up to $3.

“PSTA is showing true leadership by entering into an innovative partnership that is among the first of its kind in the nation,” says Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) “This technology offers a great opportunity to mass transit providers and expands access to transit for Pinellas families. I hope that other providers in our region and throughout the state will follow the lead of PSTA and embrace this technology that Floridians have come to expect in their communities.”

DC Ribbon Cutting

Brad Miller (PSTA), Nick Cambas (United Taxi), Christine Mitchell (Uber Tampa Bay), and Bill Jonson (City of Clearwater/PSTA Board member) cut the ribbon launching Direct Connect service in Pinellas Park and East Lake.

The service launched with a ribbon cutting event at Pinellas Park Transit Center on Monday, February 22, 2016 and will run on a six month pilot basis. If successful, PSTA will consider expanding this new, innovative service.

“We are proud to partner with PSTA on our shared mission of improving access to safe, reliable transportation options for Pinellas Park residents,” says Christine Mitchell, General Manager for Uber in Tampa Bay. “By helping to bridge the gap on the first and last mile for commuters, this innovative public-private partnership will compliment and extend the reach of the existing transportation infrastructure in the region and open up more opportunities in the community.”

PSTA + Uber + United Taxi

“We’re so glad to be working with old friends to serve our community in a new way,” agrees Nick Cambas, principal owner of United Taxi. “The people on United Taxi’s management team, myself included, have devoted their careers to the ground transportation service industry in Pinellas and surrounding counties. Doing so has given the team a variety of opportunities to work closely with PSTA, building a relationship that is decades long and strong. PSTA’s Direct Connect exemplifies the ideal public-private partnership: PSTA reduces its costs, our drivers have increased business opportunity, and the public benefits by saving time and money. I call that a Win-Win-Win.”

To learn more about this new service, please visit www.psta.net/directconnect.

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Transit Matters to Families

For the month of February, we’d like to share some stories with you about families and public transit. Every day moms, dads, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters board PSTA buses to make their way around the county. Many of these family members travel together, and some families turn it into an adventure.

The Sorenson family uses public transit as a way to get quality time with the kids. Here’s their story, as told by dad Carl Sorenson:

Sorenson family

Not long ago I found myself in a situation where telecommuting for work was no longer an option. This happened right at the same time that I was purchasing a house in St. Petersburg. I suddenly found myself travelling to Manatee County five days a week – too much for me. So, last year I started a new job in downtown St. Pete – and what a commute I have now!

One way I can have more fun, happy time with the kids is with our new morning routine. I don’t take the twins to preschool every day, but I generally will if the weather is at all nice. I have often been taking the kids to school in the morning via a walk on the Pinellas Trail and a bus ride on the PSTA Route 23. The kids have such nice daddy time when I walk on the trail with them and we look at birds and squirrels and talk about anything at all. We have a lot of fun on the bus (which I learned is wide enough that they can lie down end-to-end on the back row with room to spare!). Usually while waiting for the school to open they will pretend to be penguins or dogs or roosters or something (they’re four). We have had some very fun and silly mornings this way.

After dropping off the kids at school, I can take the next bus to my new job downtown. People usually ask if I save money by taking the bus. It’s possible, but the downtown job location and the bus commute really are lifestyle choices that make me happy.

People often assume that the bus is what you use when you don’t have other options, but when I explain how rich my mornings are they understand a bit why I love making this a part of my lifestyle. Actually, even beyond my time with the kids, riding with other people helps me to feel connected to the community.

The bus brings together all sorts, and we are literally all in it together for a few minutes each day.

To learn more about the Sorenson family, please check out Carl’s blog.

Does your family enjoy riding the bus together? Send your story to ride@psta.net

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Press Release: PSTA Hosts Guide Dog Training

Although modern technology has made riding transit easier and more convenient than ever, taking that first ride can still be intimidating for those who have lost their sight. That’s why Southeastern Guide Dogs and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority are partnering to make that experience even easier – by training guide dogs to comfortably and confidently lead their companions when riding transit. southeastern guide dogs logo

On Saturday, January 18, 2014, seven adorable and exceptionally well behaved guide dogs in training accompanied their handlers on a two hour exercise aboard a PSTA bus. The puppies ranged in age from six months to a year and even though they faced a plethora of new sights, sounds, smells and vibrations, they took the entire exercise in stride. The training involved driving the bus along local streets and stopping at various locations to let the training teams board and alight so the puppies could get used to the various types of bus stops found throughout Pinellas County.

guide dogs 1 “What we try to do is to take them to different places and give them different experiences, so that when they are a working dog, they won’t be upset or distracted and are better able to do their job,” says Southeastern Guide Dogs Area Coordinator John Bauer. “It’s hard work, but when you get to see your dog finally matched with a blind person, it’s immensely gratifying and wonderful to see that dog actually guiding someone and helping them get where they need to go.”  Officials say that many guide dogs will be riding transit every day once in service and this kind of training, which simply can’t be simulated in a classroom, is invaluable.

guide dogs 2Southeastern Guide Dogs is an organization that trains dogs to help people with visual impairments so that it’s easier for them to live independent, vibrant and joyous lives. Through programs such as Paws for Independence™, Paws for Patriots™, and Gifted Canines™ they have more than 400 active guide dog teams across the country. PSTA leaders say that being able to support Southeastern Guide Dogs and programs like Paws for Patriots is a great way to give back to the community and support our heroes who have given so much for our country.

For more about Paws for Patriots or other Southeastern Guide Dogs programs, including how to volunteer or donate, visit:  www.guidedogs.org.

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Filed under Behind the Scenes, Customer Service, Press Releases, Transit Services

Press Release: PSTA Leaders to Demo Double-Length Buses this Friday

For immediate release March 13, 2013

Who: Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) leaders, local elected officials and staff
What: Examining a new 60 foot, articulated hybrid bus
Why: As an option to address current, standing-room-only demand on numerous bus routes
When: March 15, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
Where:  Coachman Park parking lot, 301 Drew Street in Clearwater

BC Transit Articulated Bus

An articulated bus in the fleet at BC Transit

You are cordially invited to join PSTA and area leaders on a tour and demonstration ride in one of the most advanced transit vehicles on the planet – this Friday morning at Coachman Park in Clearwater. PSTA staff and local officials will gather at 10:00 am along the waterfront to evaluate a brand new, American made, articulated diesel-electric hybrid bus from New Flyer.

With standing-room-only loads on many bus routes, PSTA leaders are now considering investing in larger buses to accommodate the record-setting demand for transit. Without additional funding to increase bus service or frequency, these new, double length, fuel-efficient vehicles may be the agency’s only option to ease system overcrowding. Please join us for a sneak peek at what the future of transit may look like in Pinellas County.

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Press Release: PSTA Board Unanimously Agrees to Ask County Commission for New Funding Source to Improve Transit!

Who: Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) Board of Directors
What: Agrees to ask Pinellas Board of County Commissioners to authorize a transit improvement sales tax referendum for 2014
When: January 23, 2013
Why: To ask voters to support major improvements in Pinellas County’s transit service

1-23-13 Board MeetingThe PSTA Board of Directors made a historic advancement in improving Pinellas County’s transit service. By a unanimous vote at its monthly meeting, the Board agreed to ask the County Commission to include a transit improvement sales tax on the November 2014 ballot moving more than 30 years of planning forward.

Financial data shows that PSTA’s current revenues will not be enough to maintain current service levels in the coming years, let alone improving the transit system. On the heels of several years of record-setting ridership and higher-than-ever demand, PSTA CEO Brad Miller advised his Board today, “We are at point where we either ask the county to put a referendum for a new funding source on the ballot in 2014 or start planning to dramatically reduce bus service.” Without additional funding, Miller says the agency would be forced to cut up to 30% of its bus service by 2016. That would be in addition to recent rounds of streamlining and service cuts PSTA has implemented since the recession began in 2008.

Today, numerous board members stated that it is their responsibility to plan for Pinellas County’s future. “I truly believe that this comes down to a quality of life issue for citizens in Pinellas County,” said County Commissioner Janet Long. “The infrastructure in our community is not the best that is can be and our citizens deserve better than that. We cannot afford to stay stuck in the moment and it’s time to plan for the future.” Fellow County Commissioner Susan Latvala agreed adding, “This is the right thing to do and the right time to do it.”

“This is just the first step in the process and all we’re doing today is asking the county if they’ll give us permission to ask the voters,” says PSTA Board Member and Dunedin City Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski. Several PSTA Board members also emphasized the need for properly developing a comprehensive plan to present to the voters. “We need to more fully develop the plan,” said County Commissioner Norm Roche. PSTA Chair and St. Petersburg City Councilman Jeff Danner added that the public will play an integral role in shaping the county’s transit improvement plans, “This will be a full county-wide, multi-modal transit plan that we will be refining with the help of the community over the next year and a half.”

In fact, those efforts are already underway throughout Pinellas as part of PSTA’s Community Bus Plan. County residents are encouraged to participate and give their input by visiting the Pinellas Community Bus Plan website.

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