PSTA Receives Grant to Fight Human Trafficking
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 29th, 2020
St. Petersburg, FL – The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) was awarded $43,630 in federal grants today to combat human trafficking.
The funds, which were announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA), will further train PSTA bus operators to better recognize indicators of passengers being trafficked and how to help them. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Truckers Against Human Trafficking, and the Department of Homeland Security (DOS), the PSTA program, ‘The Eyes of the City’, consists of training sessions like looking for signs of a person being disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse. Safety is a number one priority for PSTA, not only for our drivers but also our riders. To date, 117 bus operators have been trained on this important issue.
“This money will help spread awareness and further our training with our drivers,” said Adriana Rodriguez, RISK Coordinator for PSTA and ‘Eyes of the City’ creator, “It will help us continue to make a difference in our community.”
Currently, Florida ranks 3rd in the U.S. in human trafficking cases reported by states, behind only California and Texas. According to the Polaris Project, many abusers use public transportation to move nearly half of human trafficking victims.
“I’m thankful to the U.S. Department of Transportation for recognizing how vital this training is for our operators to recognize signs of someone needing help, as well as Adriana spearheading this important issue in our community, “said Brad Miller, PSTA Chief Executive Officer, “Since our nearly 400 bus operators are out in the community on a daily basis, it makes sense to take advantage of their eyes to help combat this serious issue.”
The federal money comes from FTA’s Innovations in Transit Public Safety funding. The primary purpose of this grant is to identify innovative solutions to reduce or eliminate human trafficking occurring on transit systems. ‘The Eyes of the City’ was created in May of 2019 and is the first in the Tampa Bay region to educate bus drivers on this issue. The next class will be February 11th.
PSTA Public Relations Coordinator
O: (727) 540-1853 | C: (727) 249-6542
PSTA: The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is the public transit provider for Pinellas County, providing more than 12.1 million rides per year. PSTA operates 40 bus and trolley routes with a fleet of 210 vehicles.