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Free rides for first six months as St. Petersburg's SunRunner is set to make its debut this fall

Several new blue and yellow SunRunner buses are parked in a cement lot in front of a clear blue sky.
Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority
The SunRunner connects customers to some of Pinellas County’s most-visited destinations, like St. Pete Beach, Tropicana Field and downtown St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg's new Bus Rapid Transit service will shuttle passengers from downtown to the beaches.

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority's recently developed SunRunner is promising faster trip times and more frequent service compared to a traditional rail system.

The 10-mile, 16-stop line will be able to get from downtown St. Petersburg to St. Pete Beach — and vice-versa — in 35 minutes.

A vibrant map showing the stops of St. Pete's new SunRunner bus system.
Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority

Rides will be free of charge the first six months of operation, then become $2.25 one way.

The bus will run in its own bus-and-turn lane, allowing PSTA to increase bus services in the area without impacting traffic.

Everyday drivers are allowed to make turns in the new red lanes, while only PSTA buses and emergency vehicles are allowed to drive in them.

All 30 of the SunRunner stations have totems with digital displays and real-time bus arrival information, while 16 of the platforms feature stained glass designs by local artist Catherine Woods, designed to complement the flora, fauna, and architecture of the station’s surroundings.

On-board features include bike racks, free wi-fi, charging ports and easy stroller access.

The SunRunner is also promising several sustainable benefits, including taking cars off the road, encouraging biking and walking beyond the bus route, and operating with hybrid electric vehicles to reduce emissions.

PSTA Sunrunner

In 2020, PSTA was awarded $21.8 million in federal grant funding, which covered about half of the capital cost for building the SunRunner. The Florida Department of Transportation provided 25% of the funding, while PSTA and the City of St. Petersburg split the remaining construction costs.

The bus system will run seven days a week, 6 a.m. to midnight, running every 15 minutes until 8 p.m., then reducing service to every 30 minutes.

The SunRunner's grand opening is set for Oct. 21.

Sarah Petrowich is the WUSF Stephen Noble Social Media intern for summer of 2022.
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