One of the things that increases bus ridership is a rise in gas prices. But gas prices were lower in December than they have been in awhile.
PSTA's increase in bus ridership last month may have been for another reason.
Bus ridership increased 8 percent last month for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority compared to December in 2011.
PSTA officials would usually credit increased bus ridership to high gas prices. But gas prices were at about $3 per gallon in December--cheaper than previous months.
PSTA spokesman Bob Lasher says those who rode the bus in the midst of high gas prices may now be deciding to stay onboard.
"The number one obstacle to having people take that first ride is change," says Lasher.
"It's intimidating, it's something different. It's not the price, it's the fact that they don't know how to do it but once they learn and see how easy it is, they tend to stay with us."
Lasher says three new connector routes were introduced last month in northern Pinellas that added new riders but it was only a small amount of the total.