Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is saluting veterans by offering free bus rides starting Friday (Nov. 10).

The initiative started as a class project by University of South Florida student and veteran Steven Brown. During his Florida Politics and Government class, where students tackle an issue and present their solution to the relevant governing body, Brown and a group of students developed a proposal to allow Pinellas County veterans with disabilities to ride public buses for free.

In March, the students presented their proposal in front of the PSTA Board of Directors, who passed the motion and expanded it to allow all Pinellas County veterans.

Steven Brown, a local veteran and University of South Florida student, is hoping to bring his initiative providing free bus rides to veterans to other communities throughout Florida. Photo provided.

“We can definitely save a lot of lives, getting people back and forth to the doctor, to see their grandkids on the weekend, going to get groceries, whatever they need,” said Brown. “Investing in public transportation is not only good for the community, but for the environment as well, with cutting down carbon emissions. I’m really happy and excited.”

“The Veterans Pass program is our way of showing appreciation for their service – and also making sure they have access to the transportation they need to get medical care, shop for groceries or stay connected with family,” said Brad Miller, Chief Executive Officer of PSTA. “When you think about the sacrifices these men and women have made, it feels really good to know that they won’t have to worry about getting where they need to be. They stepped up to keep us safe – they should be able to enjoy the great community they helped protect.”

Brown is hoping the momentum from this initiative will help propel his advocacy work throughout the state.

“We’re setting the example here, so the next steps are to go over to Hillsborough and see if we can do this over there, then maybe Miami-Dade, Tallahassee, maybe even a state-level bill,” said Brown.

In addition to free bus rides, there are numerous events and ceremonies Saturday (Nov. 11) throughout St. Pete to honor those who’ve served our country. Here are a few happening this weekend:

10th Annual Veterans Day Celebration 
The City of St. Petersburg and Mayor Kenneth T. Welch will honor the brave individuals who have served our country at the 10th Annual Veterans Day Ceremony at 9 a.m. in Williams Park (350 2nd Ave. N). The ceremony will take place at the World War Heroes Memorial. See more details here.

6th Annual Veterans Day Bike Ride
The Long Walk Home, Inc. is hosting its 6th Annual Veterans Day Bike Ride, in support of veterans as they make the transition from military to civilian life. The event starts and ends in Fort DeSoto Park and offers distance options of 10, 32 and 55 miles. See more details and register here.

Veterans Day Luau Gala
This event at the Mahaffey Theater is a hula-themed party that supports Cyber Ohana, a nonprofit organization that helps veterans transition into cybersecurity careers. Buy tickets here.

Veterans Day Block Party
Shop from local small businesses in a community market with live music, dancing, a vehicle showcase, barbecued food and a “veterans drink tab” at Bayboro Brewing, 2390 Fifth Ave. S.

Veterans Day Cookout
A short service followed by a cookout of hot dogs, hamburgers and sides at American Legion Post 14, 1520 Fourth St. N.

Heroes Weekend in Gulfport
The Veterans Day festivities in Gulfport will include a parade at 11 a.m. and a Gulfport Police vs. Gulfport Fire Volleyball Match at 12 p.m. See more details here.

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