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What to know about the SunRunner as launch nears

Veronica Brezina

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The new SunRunner station at the corner of 5th Street and 1st Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg. All photos: Veronica Brezina.

Red-painted lanes run throughout downtown streets near teal and yellow-colored bus stations installed in preparation for the long-planned SunRunner bus service. SunRunner will make its debut Oct. 21. 

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s $44 million SunRunner project, which will be the first bus rapid transit option in Tampa Bay, will connect through St. Petersburg, South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach along a 10.3-mile route with 30 stations

BRT differs from traditional bus operations by incorporating on-level boarding and featuring a higher loop frequency, as there are a limited number of stations.

The new SunRunner station at the corner of 5th Street N. and 1st Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg.

PSTA started training hundreds of its staff members in January about the service and route.  

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for Oct. 20. PSTA, Florida Department of Transportation and federal transportation leaders will celebrate the milestone in Tampa Bay transit. Several officials, among PSTA staff, were able to ride the SunRunner during its testing phases.   


RELATED: PSTA proposes new zoning for SunRunner TOD, for increased density


By using the semi-dedicated lanes, the buses are scheduled to run every 15 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes in the evening.  

The SunRunner will be open to the public starting Oct. 21 from 6 a.m. until 12 a.m. daily.

While the SunRunner will help act as a catalyst, proving how innovative technologies can be adopted by local agencies, PSTA has faced challenges from St. Pete Beach officials, who have been against the project. 

However, in compromising with the city, PSTA has downsized the height of its buses and agreed to SunRunner turning around at the County Park at 46th Avenue, rather than at the Don CeSar hotel on 34th Street.

St. Pete Beach Mayor Alan Johnson has previously said he appreciated the modifications made to the project to address concerns and agreed that mass transit is needed.

He attended PSTA’s groundbreaking for the project and said he plans to attend the ribbon-cutting event. 

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Mac Kellar

    September 21, 2022at3:21 pm

    As one who ROUTINELY traverses 1st Avenue North AND South( five days per week, I can attest to the MAJOR disruption in what was once a smooth and uncluttered traffic flow to and from downtown.
    Whoever thought to put the bus stations on the LEFT side when for decades buses have boarded on the right side was clearly only thinking of how to waste part of the $22 million dollars on this boondoggle project.
    This will be an ‘Edsel’ of public transportation for causing both traffic snarls and accidents of both vehicles and the stations themselves.
    The under-utilized buses now are mostly empty. Had anyone involved in allocating the 22 MILLION dollars stopped to consider the disruptive effect of RIDE SHARE APPS (Uber & Lyft)?
    This resident thinks NOT!
    This was disguised as a fast alternative to downtown from the beach and vice versa yet many of the stations (almost ALL of those clogging up what was once an open traffic lane) are in the ‘underserved’ area of downtown.
    And the bike lanes? GONE in most areas.

  2. Avatar

    Steve

    September 22, 2022at4:41 pm

    In an era of political gridlock it is refreshing to see real and substantive actions that promise to make travel to the beach easier, taking cars off the road and simultaneously reducing the carbon footprint of our city. My wife and I have been looking forward to this since the first announcement and are impressed with the planning and infrastructure this project has required – kudos to all the politicians and others who have made this a reality – we are grateful. I have no doubt the SunRunner will be the envy of many other metropolitan areas. Now, if we can just invest a bit more in the Tampa/St.Pete Ferry so that commuters may use it, we’ll be all set.

  3. Avatar

    Bill Smith

    September 23, 2022at9:22 am

    catastrophic idea to have the stations stick out into the lane. There are going to be some terrible wrecks.

  4. Avatar

    John Donovan

    September 23, 2022at5:24 pm

    What if the SunRunner draws more people to St Petersburg and that increased activity increases our carbon footprint?

  5. Avatar

    Mike C

    September 24, 2022at1:02 pm

    Mac is spot on… what a gigantic waste of tax dollars. Lets see what utilization is realized when a bus comes every 15-30 min while 1/3rd of the traffic flow capacity is eliminated. The dedicated and confusing lanes are going to result in accidents and injuries. Assuming the buses ridership will be free? unlikely. Even if they were free, they would be underutilized.

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