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Tallying bus complaints to change

The Pinellas bus system plans to abandon its new rules for counting complaints. The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) last month reported a 44 percent drop in complaints from October to November. But that was partly because, under the new rules, the PSTA was not counting 17 complaints that it considered "unverifiable."

PSTA officials defined unverifiable as complaints that wereanonymous or did not contain a bus number or the time the problem happened and therefore could not be traced to a driver.

The St. Petersburg Times reported that board members were not told about the new rules and that some complaints were counted as "unverifiable" even though they did not fit the PSTA's definition.

David T. Welch, a PSTA board member, said that looked like "manipulation of information."

Now, the PSTA is scrapping the new rules.

PSTA Executive Director Larry Newman wrote to the board Thursday that separating unverifiable complaints was "easier said than done . . . we will henceforth report only total complaints received."

The complaint totals are provided to the board each month as a measure of customer satisfaction. The transit authority receives about 90 complaints each month about reckless driving, rude drivers and missed bus stops.