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Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority Brings Fast, Affordable Service to St. Petersburg's Sunshine Coast

By Elisha Neubauer

With white, sandy beaches stretching for as far as the eye can see, Pinellas County is a beckoning attraction for visitors year round. This bustling beach community is also home to a large residential population, as the healthy tourism economy provides a sturdy living. But, rising populations require transportation, especially for travelers, who may not have access to a car. It is for this reason that the county, all thirty-eight miles of it, is serviced by the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority- a countywide system of trolleys and buses who help people get from tip to tip of this gorgeous beach county.

"With its ideal balance of tourist-flare and local-comfort, PSTA is one of the most unique transit systems in the country," says Ashlie Handy, Media Liaison for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority. Due to the varied population, the PSTA has had to make adjustments and alterations to how they handle the traffic swarming through the roadways. "One of the agency's most recent accomplishments is the launching of a first-of-its-kind partnership with Uber and United Taxi; a service called Direct Connect."

While Direct Connect is new and exciting, unlike anything you'll find elsewhere, it is hardly the stopping point for this innovative company. "Looking into the future, PSTA is poised to lead the movement of regionalizing transit in the Tampa Bay area," Handy explains. "After receiving support on local and federal levels, PSTA and its sister agency HART will co-lead a Regional Fare Collection Project which will unite the eight surrounding counties of the Tampa Bay area."

According to Handy, this project will allow riders to travel smoothly throughout the county with only one fare type and a smartcard or phone app. "PSTA also has plans for a Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, line which would provide riders with express, limited-stop service from Tampa International Airport in Hillsborough County to Clearwater Beach in Pinellas County," she adds.

Another big feature that helps set the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority apart from other similar organizations is their use of technology and social media to help ease rider's experiences. "In 2010, PSTA began utilizing a combination of social media and mobile apps to help craft an even better rider experience," Handy details. "Through social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, PSTA has been able to establish a channel of two-way communication with its riders instantaneously."

In addition to social media utilization, the organization uses a program called Real Time Bus Information, in which riders are able to track the buses using GPS technology. This allows them to pinpoint the exact location and arrival time of the bus.

And, if that isn't enough, PSTA recently launched a beta version of a smart phone app, entitled 'One Bus Away.' "With One Bus Away, riders will be able to plan and track trips which span across the entire peninsula of Pinellas County and into Hillsborough County," states Handy. "With seamless travel and real-time bus tracking, PSTA bus riders will be able to ride across the Tampa Bay area with ease."

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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