ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It’s a major milestone for transportation in the Tampa Bay area.
On Friday, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority unveiled its first bus stop along the SunRunner line, which will stretch between downtown St. Petersburg and the beaches, running along St. Pete’s 1st Avenue north and south.
“Today we are one step closer to a solution for the ever-growing problems of congestion and traffic in St. Petersburg in this corridor,” said PSTA CEO Brad Miller.
The bus, and its dedicated 10.3-mile route running east and west, could be a game-changer that works in both directions.
First, a no-brainer for people who live or visit downtown and want to get to the beach.
“A bus would be great, you know?” said Cameron Carroll. “Quick easy transportation and it can’t be more expensive than an Uber I would think.”
“You don’t need to find parking spots,” added Babci Whalley, “There’s expensive parking here. And you can enjoy the beach.”
And for people visiting our beaches, it’s an easy way to experience downtown attractions like Beach Drive, Central Avenue and the St. Pete Pier.
“It’s very nice. Not only for the workers who work out on the beach at the hotels in the restaurant but for us that live out there to come down here,” said Richard Bennett.
The SunRunner might also be a catalyst for growth.
Already, developers are planning a 28-story hotel-condo tower right next to this first station at N. 1st Avenue and 5th Street.
“We could not be more happy about the SunRunner being right here in front of our site,” said Mike Flood with the DeNunzio Group. “To think about our hotel guests coming downstairs and going directly to the beach it’s just such a wonderful thing.”
And this may be just the beginning for SunRunner.
PSTA has an ambitious plan that could eventually push the service across the Bay using a dedicated lane on the Howard Frankland Bridge, giving people access to Tampa’s Westshore District and beyond toward USF.
This first phase of service between downtown St. Petersburg and the beach is set to begin next August.