CLEARWATER — Spring break kicked off this week with a program offering free rides on the Jolley Trolley between downtown and Clearwater Beach until April 29.
The Park N Ride service will pick up riders at two lots downtown every 15 minutes and drop them off at the Clearwater Beach Transit Center near the roundabout. Beachgoers can park free of charge at the two pickup lots: City Hall, 112 S Osceola Ave., and Harborview Center, 300 Cleveland St.
Riders who board at the two Park N Ride lots will receive a free Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority pass good for unlimited usage on any PSTA route that day. Jolley Trolley also has three regular routes that run on the beach.
The city is paying PSTA $65,000 for the spring break service, which is coming out of the city’s parking fund generated from parking fares and fines. The Park N Ride promotion was created last year to ease congestion by encouraging visitors to travel to the beach without their cars.
In 2017 the city contributed $50,000 to the program, and 5,862 riders boarded the Jolley Trolley at the Park N Ride locations, averaging out to $8.50 a person. Regular cash fare on the service is $2.25.
But Assistant City Manager Jill Silverboard said several improvements were made this year to increase ridership: The frequency of the service was increased to move every 15 minutes; signage directing riders to the service is improved; and the free fare this year applies roundtrip — last year riders had to pay their way back to downtown.