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What the Heck is Flexible Bus Service?

PSTA is about to embark on a new project that will introduce flexible Connector service to our friends in the northern areas of Pinellas County with three routes.

PSTA is about to embark on a new project that will introduce flexible Connector service to our friends in the northern areas of Pinellas County with three routes.

Before we tell you about flexible service, first let us explain “fixed-route” service. Fixed-route is what most people think of as “regular” bus service. The routes are fixed, that is, they don’t ever deviate from the scheduled routing (except in the case of detours due to road work, accidents, or events).

In comparison, flexible service – HART calls theirs “Flex,” we will be calling ours Connector Service – is a flexible type of bus service that travels along a specific fixed corridor, but will trek up to ¾ of a mile off that route to pick up passengers. Connectors improve mobility for people who don’t live or work right on a bus line, and are often used as a feeder to connect people with regular, fixed-route service. PSTA’s Connector service will use smaller buses, similar to those used for airport shuttles, which are able to get around on narrower neighborhood streets. Riders who want to be picked up and/or dropped off away from the pre-set route will call in advance to make a reservation.

To develop these routes we did tons of public outreach. Over 150 presentations were made at local neighborhood associations, civic groups, libraries – you name it, we presented there. We explained the service and surveyed the attendees to find out where they wanted to travel. This information helped us figure out which streets to put the routes on.

Our extensive public input process should mean that we’ve designed routes that go where  people who live in northern Pinellas want to go. The East Lake Connector will carry passengers from the Shoppes at Boot Ranch along East Lake Road to Tarpon Mall. The Dunedin/Palm Harbor Connector will travel from Westfield Countryside Mall into Dunedin along SR 580, north on CR1/Keene to Nebraska, and north on US 19 to the Palm Harbor Walmart – it will also make a few trips further north to serve the St. Pete College Tarpon Springs Campus. The Countryside/Oldsmar/Tampa Connector will head east out of Westfield Countryside over to Oldsmar where it will travel on Hillsborough Ave all the way into Tampa, serving HART’s Northwest Transit Center.

These new routes will launch on Monday, Dec. 10, 2012 with funding provided by the Florida Department of Transportation. Service will run Monday through Saturday from approximately 8 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. (exact times will be published in beautiful, color brochures). If you want to travel off the pre-set route you’ll need to call the InfoLine (727-540-1900) and make a reservation at least two hours in advance. We're currently working on a special everything-you-need-to-know-about-connectors page for our website and will let you know when it's live.

We know that these routes will provide great service to our friends in Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Tarpon Springs, and East Lake. In fact, we have a really exciting promotion that will come with the launch of these new services: free rides for the month of December! That’s right – just hop on board any of the three Connector routes in December and ride for free*.

So, what do you think, will you hop on board and give it a try? Have questions that will help you decide? I’m ready for them!

~Cyndi Raskin-Schmitt, RidePSTA Blog Editor

*Free rides are on the three Connector routes only; all other routes = regular fare.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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