Pinellas News

PSTA records second highest monthly ridership

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority bus system reported its second highest ridership total in October with nearly 1.3 million rides, just 9,250 short of the Pinellas transit system’s all-time high in October 2012.

While regular PSTA routes posted ridership increases last month, the temporary closing for a movie shoot in Clearwater resulted in a shortfall of normal shuttle passenger, affecting the monthly total.

Across Tampa Bay, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit reported all-time record ridership in October with nearly 1.4 million passenger trips, a 1.8 percent increase over the previous record set in October 2012, the Hillsborough transit system said Monday.

Both transit agencies have enjoyed ridership surges that began when gas prices started to rise steeply late last decade and have maintained growth despite the decline in motorists’ fuel prices.

Monthly bus passes are still cheaper than the average fill-up and transit riders enjoy the stress relief of not having to drive on crowded roads, PSTA external affairs officer Bob Lasher said.

Pinellas County officials are finalizing the Greenlight Pinellas Plan, which would substitute a 1 percent sales tax for a three-quarters mill property tax assessment to raise funds to expand bus service by 65 percent and launch a light rail system between St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

Hillsborough County voters rejected a sales tax increase in 2010 that would have created light rail and enhanced bus service among other goals, but bus ridership continues to grow, despite funding levels lower than planners desire.

“The ultimate endorsement of our service is that so many people choose to ride with us,” said HART Chief Executive Officer Philip Hale.”We are pleased that more people are taking advantage of the affordable cost and convenience of our service.”

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