FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
PSTA Announces SunRunner Expansion on Transit Line’s Six-Month Anniversary
New station to be added near the St. Pete Pier thanks to project coming in under budget
Pinellas Co, FL—Today the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) is celebrating the six-month anniversary of SunRunner by announcing an expansion of its hugely-popular transit line. The region’s first bus rapid transit system will be growing its footprint with a new station in downtown St. Petersburg. Located near the Sundial parking garage at 150 1st Avenue North, the new stop will give residents and visitors closer access to the St. Pete Pier, Beach Drive, the Cross Bay Ferry and all of the restaurants, businesses, and hotels along downtown waterfront. Currently, from 5th street station, it takes 12 minutes to get to the Pier, with this new stop it would be a 5-minute walk.
“SunRunner’s colorful, efficient buses and beautiful bus stops have literally transformed our community,” said Brad Miller, Chief Executive Officer of PSTA. “There are fewer vehicles on the road, more people attending events, eating out, shopping at local businesses. SunRunner is truly improving our quality of life and helping drive our economy. The best is yet to come!”
Ridership has increased every month since the service launched in October, with more than 115,000 people using SunRunner in March alone. The new service is also helping people get to special events like Halloween on Central, Localtopia and the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which all saw ridership numbers surpass 10,000 on their respective weekends. To meet the growing demand, PSTA will be adding busses to its SunRunner fleet, shortening the wait and allowing for more capacity along the route.
“Residents and visitors are saving time and avoiding the hassle of looking for parking downtown by riding the SunRunner to special events in our city,” added St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch. “The service is also providing new opportunities for local businesses to open along the route. Land that was under-utilized or vacant is being redeveloped because residents and businesses want to be near the SunRunner.”
The SunRunner’s success is helping St. Petersburg become an even safer, cleaner community. It’s reducing traffic and carbon emissions. Overall, traffic accidents are significantly down along the corridor since service began and drivers have easily adapted to the well-marked bus-and-turn-only lanes.
“All of the SunRunner’s buses are low-emission, hybrid vehicles,” said Gina Driscoll, PSTA Board Chairperson & St. Pete City Councilwoman. “Nearly half of the SunRunner riders who were surveyed said they used the bus rather than their personal cars for their trip. That reduces pollution and congestion and is good for environmental sustainability.”
The original SunRunner project came in $5 million under budget, so PSTA will be using the leftover federal dollars to fund the expansion. The new station will be open for service in 2024.
“This showcases the best of business and government: when we work together, with shared goals, we can build something as bold, transformative, and successful as the SunRunner,” added Miller.
The SunRunner is free through October 31. For more information, click here.