PSTA operates two trolleybus services that are primarily aimed at tourists, though many residents use the routes each day as well. In addition, PSTA lends its support to two other trolleybus services; one in downtown St. Pete, and the other in northern Pinellas. This page will go through each of the services in detail; the PSTA Suncoast Beach Trolley, the PSTA Central Ave Trolley, the St. Petersburg Downtown “Looper” Trolley, and the Clearwater Jolley Trolley.
The PSTA Suncoast Beach Trolley
Launched in 2001, the Suncoast Beach Trolley (or SBT) travels almost the entire gulfside corridor from downtown Clearwater to St. Pete Beach. This route originally used replica trolleybuses that were manufactured by either Optima/Chance, Cable Car Concepts, Trolley Enterprises, or Supreme Corp, but today use Gillig Low Floor replica trolleys. The SBT provides easy, convenient, and reliable service to those wanting to explore the Gulf Beaches. The route’s internal number is 777.
Routing and Frequency
The SBT runs from Downtown Clearwater’s Park Street Terminal to St. Pete Beach (at 75th Ave and Gulf Blvd) via the Clearwater Memorial Causeway, Clearwater Beach, and Gulf Blvd from Sand Key to Treasure Island. From Treasure Island, buses follow Blind Pass Rd to enter northern St. Pete Beach, where transfers to the Central Ave Trolley are available. The route also passes connection points to local routes 59 (at Indian Rocks Beach) and 68 (at John’s Pass Village), although Route 59’s connection is not shown on the map due to it not entering Gulf Blvd, the bus instead loops around a couple blocks away off Walsingham Rd. Until the introduction of the Central Ave Trolley in 2011, buses traveled all the way to Pass-A-Grille, the southernmost end of St. Pete Beach.
Trolleybuses operate seven days a week starting at 5:30am and run every 20 to 35 minutes. Some morning trips will service Island Estates Plaza and Mandalay Ave/Acacia St due to the Clearwater Jolley Trolley not starting service until about 10:00AM. Trolley service continues until about 11:00PM Sunday through Thursday and through 12-Midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Fares for the SBT are the same as the rest of the PSTA bus system. There are no special fare categories for the route.
The PSTA Central Avenue Trolley
Originally beginning in the 1990s (possibly earlier) as a city-operated shuttle only going along portions of Central Ave in St. Petersburg, the service morphed into the current Central Ave Trolley (or CAT) in 2011 to serve all of the Central Ave corridor from downtown St. Pete (near the Pier) to St. Pete Beach and Pass-A-Grille (taking over the Pass-A-Grille segment of the Suncoast Beach Trolley). The original shuttle service utilized replica trolleybuses that were manufactured by either Optima/Chance, Cable Car Concepts, Trolley Enterprises, or Supreme Corp, while the current trolley route uses Gillig Low Floor Replica Trolleybuses. The creation of the Central Ave Trolley allows for a one-seat trip between downtown St. Pete and Pass-A-Grille, as opposed to the prior setup where customers would have to transfer between the original Central Ave shuttle and PSTA Route 35 in the Grand Central District. While the Central Ave Trolley technically replaced Route 35 service after its creation, the route number is still used internally for the trolley.
Routing and Frequency
The CAT begins selected trips near the St. Pete Pier in downtown St. Pete. Trolleybuses will stage next to the former Dolphin Parking Lot and then travel along 2nd Ave N to the Sundial Shoppes (formerly known as BayWalk) and then layover at Williams Park just a couple blocks to the west. After the layover, the bus travels along Central Ave, making another layover stop at the Grand Central Terminal just steps away from US 19 (34th St N). From Grand Central, the bus continues along Central Ave until it reaches Pasadena Ave S, where it turns south and proceeds over the Corey Causeway into St. Pete Beach. After laying over along 75th Ave, the bus makes its journey to Pass-A-Grille, where it alternates with 8th Ave and 1st Ave, then terminates just outside of the Hurricane Restaurant on Gulf Way.
Monday through Thursday, buses run roughly every 20 to 30 minutes from about 6:10AM through about 11:30PM. The Friday and Saturday schedulesare nearly identical, except service runs for an extra 30 to 40 minutes during the late night, stopping just before 12-Midnight. On Sundays, the route runs every 30 to 40 minutes from 6:10AM until about 11:40PM.
The fare structure along the CAT is unique compared to the rest of the PSTA local routes, as it uses a fare zone system. A fare-free zone is established between the Pier and Sundial to help customers get to and from the shops to/from various downtown and bayfront destinations (including those who are transferring to and from the downtown “Looper”. Between Sundial and Grand Central Station, customers pay only 50 cents if they board and de-board east of Grand Central. For points west of Grand Central, the customer would pay the normal local fare. Customers who choose to travel through the fare-imposed zones would pay their fare as they board the bus, if they are travelling eastbound. If the customer is travelling westbound, the fare will be paid as he or she exits the bus.
The Downtown St. Petersburg “Looper” Trolley
The Downtown St. Petersburg “Looper” Trolley is a city circulator trolley that travels to and from many popular spots throughout the downtown area; including area museums, restaurants and shops, parking garages, hotels, the Mahaffey Theater, Al Lang Stadium, and the approach to The Pier. The name “Looper” is possibly derived from the fact that the trolley runs in a loop through the streets of downtown. While the service is administered by the City of St. Petersburg, the non-profit Looper Group Inc. bears responsibility for specific functions of the trolley system (such as insuring the vehicles) and underwrites the cost of operating the service. Support is also provided by various downtown St. Pete stakeholders, as well as PSTA. It is to note that all of the vehicles used on the “Looper”, which currently comprise of replica trolleybuses that were manufactured by Trolley Enterprises or Supreme Corp, are leased from PSTA. These are the same replica trolleys that once ran on the former Central Ave Shuttle line, as well as the Suncoast Beach Trolley.
Routing and Frequency
The “Looper” operates in two forms; a Weekday daytime route and a Friday/Saturday evening route. Both of these routes share common segments towards the waterfront portion of downtown, but the evening route only serves the waterfront, while the weekday daytime route serves the downtown core. The weekday daytime route (noted on maps with a solid red line) operates every 15 minutes from 10:00AM until 5:00PM, with the final round trip departing the Beach Dr parking lot (formerly known as the Dolphin parking lot) at 4:30PM. The Friday/Saturday evening route (notes on maps with a dotted red path) operates every 20 minutes from 5:00PM to 12-Midnight, with the final round trip departing the Beach Dr parking lot at 11:40PM.
The segment of 2nd Ave N between Sundial and The Pier approach, as well as the portions of Beach Dr and Bayshore Dr between 2nd Ave N and 5th Ave N (includes Looper Stops 1-5 and 14), are part of a Fare-Free Zone. Customers who board and de-board the trolley within this zone do not have to pay a fare. Customers travelling to and from points outside of this zone will pay a 50 cent fare when they board the trolley. A half-fare (25 cents) is provided for Seniors (aged 65 and older), persons with disabilities, and Medicare Cardholders. Children under 5 years of age can ride the trolley (with a parent) for free.
The Clearwater Jolley Trolley
The Clearwater Jolley Trolley is a circulator trolley that travels through various points throughout Clearwater (both downtown and Clearwater Beach), Dunedin, Tarpon Springs, and Safety Harbor. The trolley service began in 1982 as a city-run service. Then, for several years, PSTA operated the service, before a non-profit company was formed to take over day-to-day operations. However, PSTA continues to support the trolley, and its Go Cards are interchangeable with Jolley Trolley passes.
Sorry, I don’t have a trolley photo to share at this time.
Routing and Frequency
The Jolley Trolley is split into three routes; the Clearwater Beach, the Clearwater Coastal (which includes Dunedin and Tarpon Springs), and the Safety Harbor Route. Operating times and frequencies between the three routes vary, so it is best to check the Jolley Trolley website for the latest information, as schedules can change. Maps of each of the routes, as well as additional trolley information can be found on the Jolley Trolley website as well.
The one-way cash fare is $2.25, with the reduced fare of $1.10 for Seniors and persons with disabilities. These cash fares, as well as the cost of the daily, weekly, and monthly passes are the same costs as their respective PSTA Go Cards. Additionally, passes on either system are interchangeable with one another, meaning that you can seamlessly connect from the Jolley Trolley to the PSTA system, and vice-versa. Childen under 5 years of age (with a parent) can ride the trolley for free.