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PSTA sets fifth straight monthly ridership record

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

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.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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