Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority Earns TSA’s Gold Standard Award Benchmark Reached for the Third Time

Local Press Release
Thursday, January 28, 2021

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) honored the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) with the prestigious Gold Standard Award virtually at a meeting of the transit agency’s Board of Directors on January 27th. TSA Tampa Federal Security Director Kirk Skinner presented the award virtually to PSTA’s Chief Executive Officer Brad Miller.

 “This award is a credit to all the hard work the entire PSTA staff has done to keep not only the community but also our employees safe,” said Miller. “Safety has always been a top priority for this agency, and we look forward to continuing to work toward this achievement.” 

“PSTA exemplifies the high level of achievement that the TSA Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement (BASE) Gold Standard Award represents,” said Skinner. “Their continual efforts and hard work are reflected in their strong security posture. Their Security and Training Team eagerly work hand in hand with the Tampa TSA Surface Team in an effort to maintain the best possible security posture.”

The Gold Standard Award is the highest recognition TSA can give to a transit agency for achieving top scores during a voluntary BASE review of 17 categories of security and emergency preparedness elements. The review evaluates several aspects of a transit agency’s operations including the security plan; security training; drills and exercise programs; public outreach efforts; and background check processes. This achievement is exceptionally difficult to achieve and/or maintain due to the stringent criteria TSA examines during the BASE assessment. It is also a continual challenge for each agency due to their ever evolving industry, security measures, staff and other governmental regulations.

“Reaching this benchmark is indicative of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s dedication to public safety through strong surface security,” said Mary Leftridge Byrd, TSA’s Regional Security Director. “To be singled out for having reached this benchmark is to say that these partners are consistently working collaboratively. This is what fosters effectiveness and efficiency in partnership.”

This is the third time PSTA has earned the Gold Standard Award. Only four other agencies in the United States have earned this honor three times—Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation (PATH), Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD), North County Transit District (NCTD) (Breeze, Coaster, Sprinter), and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). 

Every year, the TSA assesses a select number of the 6,800 public transit agencies in the country for evaluation through this Baseline for Security Enhancement (BASE) program. A select few achieve scores high enough to receive the Gold Standard Award.

Looking back over the last two fiscal years, recipients of this outstanding achievement also include: MetroLink St. Louis; North County Transit District (NCTD) - Breeze, Coaster, and Sprinter; Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) Washoe; Sacramento Regional Transit (SacRT); Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA); Oahu Transit Services, Inc., which operates TheBus on the island of Oahu, Hawaii; GoTriangle the Research Triangle Regional Public Transportation Authority, which offers regional bus service to Wake, Durham and Orange counties in North Carolina; and the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC) operating in three counties in Virginia.

TSA is appreciative of the tremendous level of participation and support it has received from the mass transit and passenger rail community, as a whole. It is through these sorts of security assessment and program offerings that our agency is able to work collaboratively with key security partners to ensure appropriate security postures are employed.