History of PSTA

Facts & Figures


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1903 - 1949
Early 1900's Streetcar
Early 1900's Streetcar

1903

The first streetcar line runs from St. Petersburg to Disston City (known today as Gulfport).

1919

The first bus appears in the St. Petersburg. It consists of two Ford automobiles welded together to form one six-wheeled vehicle.

1926

In May, the St. Petersburg Municipal Transit System (SPMTS) purchases its first gas-powered bus. By June, eight buses are in service.

1928

SPMTS carries 4.2 million passengers.

1949

The last streetcar makes its final trip to Gulfport on May 7. SPMTS runs exclusively buses, eliminating the southernmost streetcar system in the United States. The last streetcar makes its final trip to Gulfport on May 7. SPMTS runs exclusively buses, eliminating the southernmost streetcar system in the United States.

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1950 - 1979

1959

Entrepreneur Byron Shouppe and Clearwater Transit, Inc. purchase several local bus lines and handle city transit along with sightseeing bus tours, charters, and taxi services in Pinellas County.

1963 Bus
1963 Bus

1962

Federal Funding begins for mass transportation projects.

1970

State legislation passes to create the Central Pinellas Transit Authority (CPTA).

1971

Referendum passes creating CPTA as an independent transit authority with taxing capabilities.

1973

CPTA is established and initiates service on April 16 with 21 buses running nine routes in eight cities. The first year of service sees 900,000 passenger trips.

1974

The Federal Mass Transportation Act subsidizes transit operating expenses for the first time. It also requires each metro area to explore feasibility of single transit systems in each area.

1975

SPMTS begins Dial-A-Ride (DART) service for the elderly.

1976

SPMTS becomes fully air conditioned with the purchase of ten new forty-five seat GMC buses. The buses are purchased with a $640,000 grant from the Urban Mass Transit Administration (UMTA). A new federal law creates the Pinellas County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) designed to provide a countywide transportation plan and to serve as a forum for cooperative decision-making regarding county transportation services.

SPMTS adds kneeling buses to its fleet.

1977

Due to the nationwide shortage, CPTA and SPMTS join forces to handle increased ridership. A cooperative new route is initiated to run from Clearwater to St. Petersburg with a transfer at Tyrone Mall. It quickly becomes the second busiest route in the county. Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit (TBART) is dissolved. The agency was created in the early 1970’s as a result of various transit related legislation.

The courtesy seating program is initiated that gives seniors and disabled passengers priority seating at the front of the bus.

1978

The first open air trolley service opens along the St. Petersburg waterfront with great success. Upwards of 4,000 people ride the trolley its first week in service.

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1980 - 1989

1980

The MPO undertakes a study to implement the possible merger of CPTA and SPMTS since both systems are already working together with an intersystem transfer program, common fares, and common information telephone number.

1982

The Reagan Administration passes legislation that allows for capital improvements, but cuts the amount of operating assistance the Federal Government would give to transit properties. Representatives from both CPTA and SPMTS step up the unification process in order to combine resources and create financial stability.

After receiving approval from the Florida Legislature, both transit properties begin to work toward the merger in order to form the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA). With operations to be funded by a tax levied in service areas, the merger is put to a popular vote for ratification. The referendum passes in St. Petersburg, Gulfport, and South Pasadena, but fails in North County.

1983

Construction of the St. Petersburg Division Operations/Maintenance facility is completed.

The merger proposal is put back on the ballot in the north county area and passes. Eleven acres of land is purchased near I-275 to allow construction of a facility to support south county operations.

Construction of Park Street Terminal is completed. It opens serving 14 bus routes as the main terminal for Clearwater Division operations.

Early PSTA Building
PSTA

1984

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) becomes the county public transit provider with 128 buses on 79 routes.

1987-88

PSTA purchases and installs electronic fareboxes.

1988

Construction of the St. Petersburg Division Operations/Maintenance facility is completed.

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1990 - 1999

1990

PSTA takes over operation of Route 100X from HARTline, who initiated the service in 1985. The route travels from St. Petersburg to downtown Tampa via Gandy Bridge, making it PSTA’s first intra-county service.

PSTA initiates Route 19, the first service to run the entire length of U.S. Highway 19. It carries 340,000 passengers its first year.

1991

PSTA establishes a Planning Department and initiates a program to increase the number of benches, and post maps and schedule information in bus shelters.

1991-94

PSTA expands rapidly, requiring the purchase of 75 new buses for expansion and replacements.

1994

A newly constructed Williams Park Customer Service Center opens and replaces the information booth originally constructed by SPMTS in 1950.

1996

PSTA introduces the magnetically encoded GO Card bus pass simplifying bus travel and fare options. The first low floor buses are added to the fleet, improving passengers access. The 15 vehicles, manufactured by New Flyer, feature efficient wheelchair ramps rather than lifts.

1997

PSTA carries its 100 millionth passenger.

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2000 - 2009
The original Suncoast Beach TrolleySM
Original Suncoast Beach Trolley

2001

PSTA purchases 10 rubber-wheeled trolley vehicles. The Suncoast Beach TrolleySM is introduced, providing the first ever transit service spanning the entire distance from Sand Key to St. Pete Beach. Colorful, sea life-themed vinyl wraps applied to the trolley vehicles give them unique branding.

Over 500,000 people ride the trolley in its first year of service. PSTA’s entire fleet is equipped with new GFI Odyssey fareboxes featuring advanced bill recognition technology and improved reporting capabilities. The agency’s website, www.PSTA.net, is developed and introduced.

Central Plaza Terminal
Central Plaza

2002

Central Plaza Intermodal Terminal opens in the Grand Central District of St. Petersburg. The new station supports 12 buses and features public restrooms, a driver’s break area, and dual-window customer service center.

Park Street Terminal undergoes a major renovation project that includes construction of a new customer service booth, roof and lot repairs, and driveway resurfacing. PSTA hires its 500th employee, reaching that milestone for the first time. Strobing LED brake light systems are installed on the entire fleet, increasing vehicle visibility.

2003

PSTA uses federal funds to purchase 10 luxurious coach-style buses with plush reclining seats, for the introduction of the Route 300X, offering express service from Pinellas to downtown Tampa via the Howard Frandland Bridge. The well-appointed buses are also used on the exisiting Route 100X. Property with an existing building on Ulmerton Road east of Starkey is purchased to serve as the new Ulmerton Park N Ride lot for Route 300X.

PSTA breaks ground on a new Administration, Operations and Maintenance facility that will combine the Clearwater and St. Petersburg divisions in one centralized location. The complex, built on a 36-acre parcel, will accommodate up to 125 administrative personnel, 160 maintenance personnel, 600 bus drivers, and 300 buses. PSTA partners with various government and law enforcement agencies to conduct a disaster training drill. The exercise allows staff to develop procedures to follow in case a real event should occur.

PSTA airs its first ever animated television commercial. Featuring lively characters, an entertaining soundtrack and a catchy tune, the ad quickly becomes popular and increases brand recognition.

2004

PSTA installs its 450th bus shelter. Local youth get to ride PSTA buses as often as they like all summer long with the introduction of the new Summer Youth Haul Pass. At just $25 for unlimited rides between May 15 and August 15 the pass quickly becomes popular.

For the first time ever, cross-bay commuters get to enjoy unlimited rides on both PSTA and HARTline with the implementation of the dual-system Passport. PSTA begins producing brochures and other passenger information materials in Spanish.

2005

PSTA moves into its new home on Scherer Drive in St. Petersburg. With plenty of room for growth, the new transit complex will meet the area's transportation demands for decades to come. PSTA Route 18 & 19 both carry more than 1-million passengers each for the first time. Cyclists make PSTA's Bikes on Buses program the most popular in Florida according to the National Center for Transit Research, with 17,000 rides per month.

PSTA introduces the Youth Platinum Pass that allows passengers 18 and younger to ride PSTA as often as they like for seven days for just $7.

2006

PSTA took delivery of 48 new Gillig buses to replace the 1994 model year vehicles. This brings the average age of the fleet to just over five years.

In June of 2006, PSTA fully automated its transportation dispatch and extra board scheduling with the Hastus DDAM scheduling and dispatch software. This software allows for simpler and more efficient scheduling of Bus Operator daily work assignments and timekeeping entries. PSTA and Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) agreed to cross honor each other’s Photo ID cards for reduced fare.

2007

PSTA introduces Rollin the trip planner on PSTA.net. This automated system allows passengers to type in origin and destination information and get detailed routing. After leading PSTA for 16 years, Executive Director Roger Sweeney retires.

PSTA welcomes Mr. Tim Garling as its new Executive Director in November. Mr. Garling came to PSTA after serving as Senior Director of Operations at TriMet in Portland, Oregon.

The end of the fiscal year shows all-time record high ridership. Overall, PSTA carried 11.7 million passengers, and three routes each carry one million a piece.

2008

PSTA begins accepting debit and credit cards for the purchase of GO Cards at the three terminals and administrative headquarters. An online store module is added to PSTA.net allowing customers to purchase tickets through the website using a credit card.

In the effort to increase efficiency, all PSTA routes are reviewed and a major system-wide service change is implemented. Utilizing automatic passenger counter technology, staff is able to make precise adjustments which save money without sacrificing service.

PSTA partners with the City of Seminole, the Pinellas County Arts Council, and Sembler Corporation to commission a specialty bus shelter in front of the new Kohl’s store on Park Street in Seminole. Entitled “Gimme Shelter,” this colorful glass and steel structure designed to protect riders from the rain and the glaring sun, features glimmering glass, solar lighting and intriguing architecture.

For a more customer friendly policy, PSTA expands the reduced fare programs to accept additional forms of ID. Seniors and youth are able to show a government-issued photo ID card to prove their eligibility for a discounted fare.

The Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA) inducts former PSTA Executive Director Wilbur Barnes into the FPTA Hall of Fame. Mr. Barnes was the person most responsible for creating the first publicly owned transit system serving Pinellas County. He was responsible for managing the merging of the St. Petersburg Municipal Transit System and the Central Pinellas Transit Authority, which resulted in the creation of the modern-day PSTA. He also led the effort to initiate a dedicated property tax to support transit in Pinellas County.

The year 2008 saw very successful ridership increases. There was a 16% increase in September over the previous September (1.1 million rides). For the year, that translates into a 10.2% increase in service and close to 13 million total rides. The Bikes on Buses program also increased ridership by 23.5%.

2009

PSTA partners with Internet-giant Google, to implement their intuitive and interactive Google Transit Trip Planner. Riders can quickly plan a trip and see it on a Google map. The technology allows for street level views, and cross-system trips.

Hybrid technology is smart technology. PSTA added 10 such vehicles to the fleet in the effort to improve fuel economy and lower emissions. Additional benefits offered by these hybrid SmartBuses include quieter operation and faster acceleration.

Demand Response Transportation (DART) clients are transitioned into the new DART Choice Program. This innovative program allows clients to choose their own sedan or wheelchair van service provider from a list of approved carriers.

PSTA forges a partnership with the Clearwater Jolley Trolley to provide frequent, coordinated service on Clearwater Beach. Both systems accept the other’s tickets to allow for a seamless trip.

Central Plaza Terminal is re-named Grand Central Station. This change brands PSTA as part of the Grand Central District community.

PSTA launched a completely redesigned website at PSTA.net, which is awash with brilliant photographs depicting local landmarks and real bus riders. Logically organized and simple to navigate, it’s easy to find information about all aspects of PSTA.

Passengers can see the exact time their buses will arrive on special monitors at PSTA’s three bus terminals. The technology behind real-time bus information is expected to expand in the future to be available to passengers with mobile telephone devices.

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2010 - 2019

2010

PSTA entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Tampa Bay Regional Transportation Authority (TBART), the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), and the Pinellas County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to conduct an Alternatives Analysis of transit corridors in Pinellas County. The study would focus on the area between downtown Clearwater, Gateway, and downtown St. Petersburg. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recognized the MOU as an excellent example of inter-agency cooperation.

PSTA partnered with the MPO, TBARTA and Pinellas County Communications to carry out the region’s first ever eTownHall Meeting on Transit and the Pinellas County Alternatives Analysis. The event was broadcast live on PCC-TV and on the web, and citizens were able to participate online or via telephone. It was the first time that all three technologies were combined for a Town Hall type of event in Pinellas County.

The Jolley Trolley introduced a new trolley route running from Clearwater Beach to Downtown Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, and Tarpon Springs. This first of its kind funding partnership included contributions from the City of Clearwater’s Downtown Development Board, the City of Dunedin, the City of Tarpon Springs, Pinellas County, and PSTA.

PSTA added 14 Diesel-Electric Hybrid Buses, bringing the hybrid fleet up to a total of 24 vehicles. These vehicles are branded with the SmartBus logos and are painted a sleek shade of silver.

PSTA joined with the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, the Mid-Largo Chamber of Commerce, and the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce to present the Pinellas County Transit Summit, which was co-chaired by Pinellas County Commissioner Karen Seel and Steve Raymund, Chairman of the Board for Tech Data Corporation. The summit shared information and took feedback from the business community and the public regarding the economic impacts of improving public transit in Pinellas County and the region. Keynote Speaker Don Keuth, President of the Phoenix Community Alliance, played a pivotal role for the business community’s efforts to support a sales tax referendum and develop rail transit options in Phoenix, Arizona.

PSTA coordinated a workshop called “Connecting Pinellas County to High Speed Rail,” hosted by PSTA Board Vice-Chair Jeff Danner. The workshop outlined the various modes of public transit that would be appropriate for connections to the high speed rail slated to come to Tampa. Part of the program was a panel discussion moderated by St. Petersburg Times columnist Ernest Hooper.

Ridership hit another all time record with 13.1 million rides for fiscal year 2009/10.

PSTA began interacting with passengers and the public via social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

PSTA launches the Real Time Bus Information project. The system works with GPS technology and allows PSTA to pinpoint each vehicle's exact location at all times. This means we can provide reliable, real-time arrival information to passengers.

2011

PSTA launched a new passenger amenity: free WiFi. Now, riders can connect to the Internet while awaiting their bus at Williams Park (340 2nd Ave N, St. Petersburg), Park Street Terminal (525 Park Street, Clearwater), and Grand Central Station (3180 Central Ave, St. Petersburg) transfer centers.

PSTA welcomed Mr. Bradford Miller as its new PSTA CEO/Executive Director on July 5, 2011. Prior to serving as the General Manager of the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART), Mr. Miller was the Assistant Chief Operating Officer for the Charlotte Area Transit System in Charlotte, NC for six years where he managed all service operations, development and planning for the highly successful Lynx Light Rail line.

PSTA partnered with transit agencies and transportation supporters across the nation on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 as part of the national Don’t X Out Public Transportation Day. The Don’t X Out Public Transportation Day campaign encouraged Americans to contact Congress and ask legislators to oppose planned transportation funding cuts.

PSTA sets historic annual ridership record of more than 13.1 million.

PSTA's hybrid bus success was highlighted in international video. The finished video can now be found on the YouTube channels for both PSTA and Allison Transmission.

PSTA launches the RidePSTA Blog.

PSTA introduced the Central Avenue Trolley, a Beach to Bay transit service. The new service will give residents and visitors alike a streamlined, convenient, one-seat ride from the St. Petersburg Pier to Pass-a-Grille Beach. The service is a combination of routes previously served by the Pier Trolley, the Looper Group’s Central Avenue Shuttle, PSTA’s Route 35 and the Suncoast Beach TrolleySM. The Central Avenue Trolley also features a new multi-zone fare system that offers free transport between the Pier and BayWalk.

PSTA announced record ridership in December.

2012

Agency leaders decided that investing in the environmentally friendly and fuel-saving hybrid technology was the best move for both PSTA and the community. As a result, PSTA replaced 10 standard gasoline cars with new Ford Fusion hybrid-electrics. Like their hybrid bus counterparts, the agency has branded its new hybrid sedans as SmartCars.

PSTA sets new record for ridership in January 2012.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration recognized the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) as one of 17 rail and mass transit agencies from across the nation that earned TSA’s highest rating of “Gold Standard” based on their most recent Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement (BASE) for their dedication to building a strong security program.

After several months of record ridership, PSTA hits highest monthly ridership in agency history.

PSTA officials announced the unveiling of the agency’s new informational video series called Bus Buzz! The first episode, which can be found on the agency’s YouTube channel: Ride PSTA, featured PSTA’s 2011 Driver of the Year Vance Wegner sharing tips with riders that would help them avoid being passed by the bus.

PSTA earns a perfect score in Federal Triennial Review by demonstrating perfect compliance in more than 300 areas to federal auditors.

Continuing the trend, June ridership not only carried more riders than June 2011, but also defied Tropical Storm Debby.

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History of PSTA

2011 Vision Statement 2011 Vision Statement

Special Act That Created PSTA Special Act That Created PSTA

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