In 2014, as a way to get college kids to beach jobs, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) expanded their network of free and low-cost transportation options for beach staff to get to work. While the service industry struggles to maintain staff, beach businesses are hoping this option may help.
“The hospitality industry is really coming back, especially in Pinellas County, in a big way, now that we’re kind of getting our way out of the pandemic. But at the same time, everybody is desperate to hire more people, and retain the ones they have and not have them leave for an Amazon job, or some other kind of job,” Brad Miller, CEO of PSTA said.
PSTA programs include the TD Late [Transportation Disadvantaged] shift – a discounted ride from an Uber, Lyft or a United Taxi – totaling nine dollars per customer per month. The Corporate Pass (C pass for trolley rides) allows businesses to offer their workers trolley transportation from St. Petersburg and surrounding areas to their place of work on the beach.
“This partnering with public transportation, or giving employees a very low-cost, easy way to get to and from, to get access, can be a real advantage to attracting employees from the mainland out there. Without a lot of expense for giving them a parking space,” Miller said.
Transportation programs expanded in 2020 with the new program: Mobility on Demand. This provides disabled workers an alternative option to get to work if public transportation is not feasible. This program costs $3.50 per ride.
Charles Fischer, a disabled South Pasadena resident who works at a resort in Treasure Island, relies on the TD Late Shift and Mobility on Demand daily.
“Those are life-saving rides because it’s very difficult to get a bus – with the pandemic it’s very difficult with the bus system – but I use the TD Late Shift program that starts after 9 p.m. So that works out perfectly to get me home,” Fischer said.
According to Fischer, the application and approval process through the PSTA was easy. All he needed to provide was proof of work, his schedule, his home and destination addresses.
“I couldn’t express my gratitude to PSTA and the workers that have worked with me and helped me get the applications in. They have been more than accommodating and understanding, they actually want to help you,” Fischer said. “I am so, so fortunate that I’ve been able to utilize these programs.”
More at psta.net/programs.