Area bus riders reach record in February
TAMPA - Both Hillsborough and Pinellas County transit agencies set ridership records in February. The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority reported a 4 percent rise in daily ridership last month to 1.2 million trips. Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority ridership increased 1 percent, also to 1.2 million rides. Both agencies reported record ridership in 2012, which nationwide was the second highest ridership year since 1957, the American Public Transportation Association reported.“Two big reasons for the increased national transit ridership are high, volatile gas prices and in certain localities, a recovering economy with more people returning to work,” said APTA President and Chief Executive Michael Melaniphy in a news release. “Public transportation saves people money, and people save even more so when gas prices spike.” Standing-room-only rides are common during peak periods on both county transit systems. The Pinellas transit authority today will display a 60-foot, double-length bus its officials are studying as an option to address standing room issues. HART in June is scheduled to deploy new buses with technology to change traffic signals. The buses will be used on the agency’s first MetroRapid service between downtown and northeast suburbs.