PTSA considering money-saving bus options amidst cuts

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PTSA) kicked the tires of an electric bus Tuesday. 

The new technology may, or may not, be part of PSTA's new survival strategy.

For the moment, PTSA said buying enough replacement buses is a challenge. It has enough revenue to buy seven or eight vehicles a year, but "...the problem is we're going to see in the coming years a need to buy maybe 15 buses a year," Executive Director Brad Miller told FOX 13 News.

Two years ago, Pinellas voters rejected a sales tax that would have infused hundreds of millions of dollars into mass transit. That means cuts to the system.

Tuesday, riders catching buses in downtown St. Petersburg's Williams Park noticed the Plexiglas had been removed from bus shelters. 

Saturday night, the frames will disappear, and on February 14 the buses will also go away. 

Williams Park will no longer be a hub where riders transfer from one bus route to another. Instead, the vehicles will stick to major thoroughfares. 

"Next fall we will probably be trying to do some of the streamlining and straightening of routes in northern Pinellas county coming out of Clearwater, up into Dunedin, in that area," Miller said.

Some PSTA patrons in Williams Park know changes are coming, but do not have the detailed information they want. 

"I really rely on my PSTA bus situation and now I don't know what they're going to do," Paulie Culter said, while his friend John Johnson agreed.

"I'd like to know what's going on just for the simple fact of my transportation to the VA," he explained.  

Charlotte Hillmon said change is part of life. 

"I'm OK, as long as I get from A to B... I am alright," she said.

Starting Sunday morning and in the days that follow, PSTA said it plans to have employees on hand in Williams Park to explain the changes to riders face-to-face. 

There is also a PSTA smart phone app some patrons know about, and others don't. 

"I didn't even know they had an app till I just looked at it," Devontae Simmons said. "Where I'm going to be able to catch the bus when it leaves Williams Park? That'll be the information I'll be looking for."