The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority has set its fifth monthly record in a row with more than 1.2 million rides in the month of April. PSTA users boarded buses and other transit services 1,280,595 times in the month of April.
That represents a 3.8 percent increase over the same month last year, equating to nearly 50,000 more rides than the previous April.
PSTA’s previous all-time ridership was 1.2 million. The agency has provided more than a million rides each month since 2009.
“We supply an essential service to this community, and are excited to see more and more rides being taken each month,” said PSTA Chief Operations Officer James Bradford.
The news continues to build on a trend PSTA hopes to maintain as it faces looming budget cuts in the wake of the failed Greenlight Pinellas transit initiative last year. The agency is set to become insolvent sometime around 2017 and may be forced to reduce routes and find other service-cutting efficiencies.
Regardless of an uncertain budget climate, the agency is continuing to promote ridership. It’s offering a summer “haul pass” for youth in Pinellas County.
The 15-week summer pass offers unlimited rides for up to age 18. The pass kicked off last week and runs through Monday, August 31, on all local PSTA and Jolley Trolley routes. It excludes the two express routes to Tampa.
That pass is available for $35. Users need a government-issued ID card, a student ID or a PSTA-issued youth ID to use the pass.
PSTA is also hoping to begin a pilot bus rapid transit program along Central Avenue. It would run in conjunction with the agency’s successful beach trolley that runs along Central Avenue connecting downtown St. Pete to the beaches. The BRT route would run along First Avenue North and South and provide faster service for longer trips along the route.
The agency is still working to find funding for the project.