“We are extremely humbled to receive such high praise,” said Brad Miller, CEO of PSTA. “I may be a bit biased and have known we were #1 for a long time, but receiving this national recognition is so gratifying because it reflects our employees’ hard work and dedication to making PSTA the leader in public transit, not just here in the Tampa Bay area, but across the country. It is truly a team effort between our staff, board of directors, state and federal lawmakers, and so many other leaders in Pinellas County and throughout Tampa Bay who have supported us, our vision, and our goal to improve the community.”
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PSTA was named the most outstanding public transportation system in the nation for its work over a three-year period (2020, 2021, 2022). For this award, the APTA divides transportation systems into four divisions, based on their sizes; PSTA won the award for the medium-sized division. The transit system in Kansas City won this award in 2022 and Sacramento CA’s in 2021.
Despite the huge challenges during the pandemic, PSTA managed to not only weather the storm but also grow, as ridership numbers have bounced back beyond post-pandemic expectations. Additionally, PSTA developed an innovative partnership that teams Uber and Lyft with Mobility-on-Demand and Access, a paratransit service, to serve riders with disabilities.
In 2022, PSTA launched its highly anticipated, first-of-its-kind Bus Rapid Transit line called the SunRunner. The route and bus design, branding, and deployment of the line were all executed during the pandemic, with many employees working remotely for social distancing. Despite the many hurdles, the SunRunner has been a massive success and continues to exceed expectations.
Other factors that helped PSTA secure this significant honor include its efforts in safety, sustainability, customer service, and operations.
🦺 SAFETY: Safety is a top priority for PSTA. PSTA’s Safety, Security & Training department is the only transit authority in Florida that has three Gold Standard Awards, and one of only four transit authorities nationwide with this achievement. During the pandemic, PSTA safeguarded its frontline workers by installing plexiglass barriers to protect drivers. And at the height of the pandemic, PSTA went fare-free (March 2020 to July 2021) to avoid crowds at the fare box and also implemented rear-door boardings only.
♻️ SUSTAINABILITY: PSTA is the leader in moving to an environmentally-friendly bus fleet. 14 new electric buses will be added next year, making the fleet 50% clean hybrid-electric and electric vehicles. This move results in better fuel efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions compared to the traditional diesel bus. With the addition of the 14 new electric busses next year, PSTA expects to save more than 172,000 gallons of diesel fuel in 2024.
☎️ CUSTOMER SERVICE: PSTA doesn’t outsource customer service. All customer service operations are handled in its in-house call center, so riders are speaking directly with representatives who live and work in Pinellas County each time they call, rather than someone who lives out of state or even out of the country.
🚍 OPERATIONS: PSTA is one of the few transit agencies in the country that is fully staffed with bus operators. This accomplishment is thanks in part to massive efforts in hiring and improving its hiring, training, and onboarding processes.
💻WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT: PSTA offers an annual year-long leadership development program for high-potential employees, called Leadership PSTA. Each year, the class delivers a project that connects the agency’s public transit services with a community need. PSTA’s 2022 leadership class hosted a community job fair at our transit-accessible main campus, targeting job seekers who ride our buses and employers along our busiest routes.
PSTA will officially accept the award in October at APTA’s 2023 TRANSform Conference & Expo in Orlando.