- December 8, 2021
St. Petersburg and St. Pete Beach businesses are attracting new customers thanks to the launch of the region’s first bus rapid transit route, the $44 million SunRunner, on Oct. 21.
The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, in a news release, says more than 63,000 people have taken at least one ride on the SunRunner since its debut, and businesses along the route, which features dedicated bus lanes for much of its 10-mile length, are reaping the benefits.
As part of the SunRunner launch, PSTA handed out SunRunner Gold Cards to the first 500 riders. The cards are good for discounts at participating local businesses, which report that customers who might typically avoid the busy east-west corridor because of lack of parking are now visiting restaurants, shops and bars in the area.
“Our bookstore is right by the 22nd Street station,” states Alsace Walentine, co-owner of Tombolo Books in St. Petersburg, in the release. “As part of the Gold Card promotion, we are giving out a free gift with purchase, so we’ve gotten to meet a lot of new customers and share our love of reading and books with more people.”
PSTA, the release states, conducted a survey of SunRunner riders that found that 50% of respondents would have taken a personal vehicle to get to their chosen destination along the route, while 15% wouldn’t have made the trip at all.
“To see how well the SunRunner has been received in our community after one month of service is truly incredible,” PSTA CEO Brad Miller states in the release. “So many people are choosing the SunRunner to get to their destinations because it is fast, easy and convenient.”