The Pinellas Suncoast Transportation Authority must cut $500,000 from its budget while eliminating as few routes as possible.
The six bus lines with the lowest ridership were the first the PSTA board considered cutting from its $113 million budget.
Highways 813 and 814, which run through Dunedin and Safety Harbour, respectively, could be abolished.
However, lines 5, 32, and 58, which pass through St. Petersburg, were originally scheduled to be cut.
However, they were saved from the chopping block after a recent board meeting.
Gina Driscoll is a member of the St. Petersburg City Council and PSTA Board Chair. She said the board heard from several riders who use these routes.
“Route 5 is the only road that actually takes people from downtown St. Petersburg to St. Pete College on the west side,” Driscoll said. “They’re trying to better themselves and get an education. We want them to look for ways to make it easier, not harder.”
The board proposed alternatives, including reducing the free ride days offered by PSTA, reducing trash pickup and reducing service around 10 p.m. on certain nights.
Driscoll said he doesn’t really like the latter.
“There are so many people working in retail, and there are so many retail stores that are open after 10 p.m.,” Driscoll said. “A lot of these people are people who rely on buses to get to work. And we want to make sure we’re there for them.”
Another option is to combine routes.
“Some routes may be cut or merged into other routes,” Driscoll said. “So maybe it’s another bus stop a block or two away. And we’ll continue to help people get around.”
For those who are seeing routes cut off, Driscoll is looking into the situation. Road-vulnerable people program or any other programs it offers.
He said he wants to continue to hear from the public when the board makes decisions that affect them.
“When something is being considered to be cut, we usually hear from people about that, and that lived experience helps us make those decisions,” Driscoll said. I did.