The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office mobile video visitation bus was listed as one of the top 25 innovations in American government.
The announcement was made Monday by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
The county's mobile video visitation bus program was unveiled in December 2008 and rolled out to the James B. Sanderlin Center at 2335 22nd Ave. S in St. Petersburg for its inaugural run in February 2009.
Through the efforts of Sheriff Jim Coats, the bus was purchased, outfitted with lap top computers/workstations, and rolled out into the community with the goal of facilitating visitations for residents who were facing transportation challenges and or other hardships in coming to the jail's central Video Visitation Center.
The bus concept was designed to ease the traffic at the center on 49th Street and reduce the wait time for visitation appointments.
In September 2009 a new stop was added to the visitation bus schedule at the Greater Ridgecrest YMCA/Omni Center, at 1801 119th St. in Largo.
Since then, a new bus was added and currently provides service to four location is St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tarpon Springs and Largo.
The Sheriff's Office schedules between 90 and 100 visits per week on the visitation bus.
Visits are limited to 40 minutes. Available time slots are 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.