The new Bus Rapid Transit program connecting downtown St. Petersburg to beach, and everywhere in between, will officially begin service on Friday, October 21, 2022. In celebration of the long awaited service, the SunRunner buses will be completely free for the six months, Pinellas Suncoast Travel Authority (PSTA) announced today.
PSTA CEO Brad Miller made both announcements this morning in front of one of the beautiful new hybrid electric buses that will service 30 stations along 1st Avenues North and South. Buses along the 10.3-mile loop will arrive every 15 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes in the evening.
After the six month period of free trips, riders will be able to pay either through the Flamingo app or a reloadable card. Each ride on the air-conditioned and WiFi-enabled bus will cost $2.25. The bus features two entry points, as well as a wheelchair ramp and spots for wheelchairs to lock in. And unlike buses that have bike racks on the front or back, riders will be able to bring their bike right onto the bus with them and use one of the three in-bus bike racks.
In describing thew Bus Rapid Transit system – over a decade in the works – Miller likened the setup to being more like a train, rather than traditional bus service. With dedicated lanes, full stations along the routes, and level entry onto the vehicle, the service will revolutionize professional and recreational travel on either side of the Central Avenue corridor stretching the entirety of St. Petersburg.
SunRunner to provide easy transportation throughout St. Pete
“I am excited to officially announce the grand opening of the SunRunner, a project that will truly transform the Tampa Bay region,” Miller said. “As our area’s first rapid transit system, the SunRunner will introduce enhanced customer service and connectivity, and encourage new economic growth for the region.”
The eye-catching bus design is by prolific local artist Chad Mize, offering a cooling and friendly welcome to the SunRunner buses.
Rapid transit is at the heart of economic development and improving the quality of life in the region. This new service will help cut down on overall congestion, and assist in getting more residents to lessen their use of cars. Currently, the St. Pete metropolitan area is the country’s largest that doesn’t have mass transit already in place. This October’s launch will give St. Pete that much needed service.
In fact, Miller said he anticipates that the SunRunner launch will be a catalyst for other rapid transit lines in the area. He discussed a possible bus line connecting St. Pete to Tampa International Airport (as well as other Tampa spots), a lengthy bus route along 34th Street/Highway 19, and potentially even a Brightline Train connection from St. Pete to Tampa after the new Tampa-Orlando Brightline service launches.
Learn more about the SunRunner plan on PSTA’s website.
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