Huge changes are coming to downtown St. Petersburg, affecting thousands of public transit riders.
The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is moving forward with a new system redesign that will provide bus service to new areas throughout the city.
The agency will be implementing some new service changes Feb. 14.
Those changes will involve moving bus routes and stops out of Williams Park and relocating them throughout the city into a new, destination-friendly grid pattern, PSTA officials said.
The changes will also streamline several routes for more efficient travel, they added.
Bus shelters in the main hub in Williams Park started coming down this weekend.
"The next morning, I got here, it was all wiped out," said Eric Bariola, a frequent rider.
While it came as a big surprise to some riders, PSTA leaders say these changes have been years in the making.
"We need to cover more of downtown St. Petersberg," said Bob Lasher, external affairs officer with PSTA. "We need to expand this coverage from just right around Central Williams Park, outward."
They say changing the bus routes out of Williams Park will create a different environment for downtown St. Petersburg.
"It's going to make a more vibrant, customer-friendly downtown for the whole community," Lasher said.
Lasher said these changes will expand five bus routes and expand weekend and night service in some cases, without spending more money.
Laurie Siegel, a frequent rider, is excited about the new routes, which give her more options on how to get from place to place.
"Since they are looking at it from our perspective, how can we get you where you need to be, faster, they're actually saying, 'Oh, let us help,'" Siegel said.
She said she will be ready for when the changes take effect Feb. 14.
If You Have Questions
PSTA staff will be in and around the Williams Park area through Feb. 17 to answer questions and help you find bus stops. Look for PSTA staff members in bright yellow vests.
You can also get stop, route and transfer location information from PSTA’s Customer Service Centers, including the booth at Williams Park, online at PSTA.net or by calling the PSTA information line at 727-540-1900.