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Pinellas County Thruway bus service

  • 29 Nov 2020 10:24 PM
    Message # 9393793

    Shortly after New Year's Day 2020, Amtrak had closed its ticket office and passenger waiting room in Pinellas County. While buses continued to stop at this strip mall at US-19 & 110th Ave. N., passengers had no place to buy tickets, check luggage, or wait inside an area sheltered from the weather elements. Restroom facilities were not available, as the only restaurant in the mall had a fire and closed up.

    As 2020 is coming to a close, Pinellas County has also bore the brunt of cutbacks again. There is a new tenant in the unit formerly occupied by Amtrak, and just like a homeless person, they were abruptly told to leave immediately, without a permanent location to serve its passengers.

    A sign in front of the store window indicated that the Amtrak Thruway stop had moved to the PSTA bus stop at 12759 34th St. N., which can be tricky to find. US-19 is commonly known as 34th St. in St. Petersburg, but it bends away from that longitude in Pinellas Park on the north side of town, where it becomes a divided highway. However, there is a PSTA bus stop at the above address, but its address is in Clearwater, at PSTA's headquarters and bus garage, in area close to Clearwater/St. Petersburg PIE Airport. That location also has no parking available for cars and no restroom facilities, as it is just a local bus transfer location. The only parking that might have been available may have been at PSTA's next door neighbor directly north which is an Amazon delivery center.

    I went to check this out for myself, and the sign on that storefront was found to have incorrect information on it. I was informed by a PSTA bus driver that Amtrak was there for just a couple of days, then moved the Thruway terminal back to Pinellas Square Mall, where Greyhound had just opened a new smaller kiosk location in Pinellas Park along 70th Ave. N., a couple blocks west of US-19. Again, this was also another PSTA bus transfer location, but at least there was parking and plenty of other restaurants, businesses, and so forth with restroom facilities, but no shelter from the weather elements. At least PSTA had security there, and they informed me that Amtrak was not using the location there either.

    Finally, after calling an Amtrak agent, the runaround treatment came to an end. The new Pinellas County location is at 8005 US-19 N., Pinellas Park, which is at a Wendy's located in the Wal-Mart parking lot at 80th Ave. N., on the northbound side of US-19. There are no signs posted anywhere along US-19 or in the parking lot exactly where the bus stops.

    My conclusion is grave concerns that Amtrak may just abandon service all together to Pinellas County and send the buses straight down I-75 to/from Sarasota, assuming passengers will either drive, use Uber or Lyft to go to/from the other side of Tampa Bay, and buses will bypass St. Petersburg for the sake of saving time. Bus connections across Tampa Bay are infrequent and minimal during peak commute hours on weekdays only. Greyhound does run twice daily across Tampa Bay, but its schedules are not consistent for good connections with Amtrak at Tampa nor Pinellas County.

    Last modified: 04 Feb 2021 12:05 AM | Anonymous
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