Florida’s Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) balanced and approved its budget for fiscal year 2024 and will use $500,000 in savings to preserve three routes that previously had been considered for elimination.
Board members voted 10 to 4 to maintain PSTA’s 0.7500 capped tax rate, approving a final budget that preserves 95% of PSTA’s bus routes, as well as its mobility options that assist disabled residents.
“We understand the importance of fiscal responsibility, as well as the fact that public transportation is the lifeblood of our community” said Brad Miller, CEO of PSTA. “Balancing our budget to maximize the routes we can serve is vital for access to education, employment, healthcare, and more. We are proud to have found a way to ensure more of these key services continue.”
In previous budget discussions, six routes with low ridership were proposed to be discontinued. Based on public feedback and a detailed ridership analysis, PSTA made adjustments to preserve three of those routes.
PSTA identified three areas to secure the necessary funds:
- $100,000 will be saved on garbage collection costs by removing trash cans from additional low ridership bus stops.
- $150,000 will be saved on projected fuel costs due to successfully locking in prices for next year.
- $250,000 will be saved on payments to contractors, since the projected expenses for the contractor providing PSTA Access services are lower than expected.
Buses will continue to run past 10 p.m. on many routes, as they do today, and fare-free rides on certain holidays will also continue. The two routes that will be eliminated have the lowest ridership of all PSTA bus routes, with each averaging fewer than 3,000 riders per month, compared to PSTA’s systemwide average of about 20,000.
Mobility on Demand
PSTA is also modifying fares for Mobility on Demand. The service provides low-cost point-to-point rides for people who qualify. To ensure the efficient use of the service and to allow the budget to cover more riders, the program increased the price per ride after four trips per day.
Mobility on Demand will now allow riders additional trips before they pay a higher price. Rather than increasing fares after two trips in a day, residents can now take up to four rides at a cost of $3.50 each. Subsequent rides will only increase to $6.00 each.
All of PSTA’s changes go into effect December 3.