CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. — The busiest beach days of the year are just around the corner and as Spring Break returns to Tampa Bay, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is bringing back their free park and ride to the beach program after a 2-year hiatus for the pandemic.
Starting March 1 through April 30th, anyone can park for free in the Clearwater Public City Hall lot at 112 S. Osceola seven days a week and hop on a free trolley to Clearwater Beach. On the weekends, there will be additional parking for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 310 Court Street, 450 Oak Avenue, and 311 S. Osceola Avenue.
The trolley will pick up people in downtown Clearwater every 30 minutes from 10 am-10 pm Monday through Thursday and every 15 minutes 10am-midnight on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Return service from the beach to downtown has a pickup location at the Clearwater Beach Marina at 25 Causeway Boulevard.
During the Spring Break season, an estimated 50,000 cars travel through the roundabout on Clearwater Beach.
This is the fourth year PSTA and the city of Clearwater are partnering up for the program after being canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of COVID-19 concerns.
In addition to the free park and ride service, city spokesperson Heather Parsons told ABC Action News that Clearwater Police Department officers will try to address gridlock issues by controlling the roundabout and manually running traffic lights.
Krystyna Gora is visiting Clearwater Beach from Canada and spent the morning doing the parking lot shuffle while trying to find a spot in the Pier 60 lot.
“You go around in circles and people don’t leave and then you feel like you’re wasting more time finding parking. It can be frustrating,” she explained.
Brad Miller hopes the parking issues will be a big encouragement for people to try mass transit this Spring Break season.
“My family comes here all the time, and the biggest challenge is finding a place to park and the traffic. Why not start your vacation earlier by taking a free trolley ride to the beach?” he added.
You can find more information on the Spring Break Park and Ride service here: https://www.psta.net/riding-psta/spring-break/