PSTA Fall, 2019 Service Changes

It’s that time again…


The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) is enacting its fall, 2019 service changes on Sunday, October 20, 2019. While most of the changes comprise of minor scheduling adjustments, some big changes are coming to Routes 18, 73, the Central Ave Trolley, & the North County Connector network. In this post, I’ll first highlight these four significant changes & what they mean for riders, then briefly highlight which routes will see the minor changes. Such minor changes include running time &/or time point changes.


Route 18

# 2629 at the Park St Terminal in Clearwater.

For many years, Route 18 has made several trip deviations off Seminole Blvd in the northern Seminole/south Largo area to serve the Heritage Presbyterian Apartments complex – a low income senior living apartment complex on 122nd Ave. These trip deviations are currently made 6 times a day Monday through Saturday & 5 times a day on Sundays. While these trips allow apartment residents to catch the 18 during these selected trips, the deviations often cause buses to run well behind schedule – especially during weekday rush hours. On top of this, overall boardings/de-boardings along the deviation have been rather low. I’ve witnessed this for myself while riding the 18 through one of these deviated trips & noticed that no one had gotten on or off the bus at the Heritage stop. Because of the overall low usage of this deviation, along with the need to keep buses running on time, PSTA has proposed eliminating the deviation several times over the past decade, but ran into opposition from apartment residents.

A Direct Connect sign at the Pinellas Park Transit Center. A new Direct Connect stop will be added as part of the Route 18 changes.

Since the Direct Connect partnership between PSTA, Uber, United Taxi, & Wheelchair Transport went countywide a couple years ago, many customers like myself have been able to enjoy a seamless first-mile/last-mile link that we previously did not have. In order to compensate for the removal of the Route 18 deviation, PSTA has been working very closely with residents & staff at Heritage, as well as with United Taxi, to come up with a solution. That solution is a new Direct Connect stop located near the intersection of Seminole Blvd & Walsingham Rd, which would allow residents to summon a United Taxi cab & traverse to or from the stop at little to no out-of-pocket cost to them. To me, this is definitely a huge win-win for both PSTA & the residents at Heritage.

In addition to this major change, many bus stops along the Route 18 corridor will be balanced out as part of a systemwide effort to consolidate & balance out bus stops. As a result of this, some closely spaced stops may be combined & others with very low usage may be removed entirely. This will in-turn allow for faster travel along the already very long route. In conjunction with the overall bus stop balancing, the three stops currently in place at the Largo Mall complex will be consolidated. Stop #’s 3634 (Dollar Tree) & 3667 (Bealls/Rue 21) will be eliminated, while Stop # 3651 (Target) will remain active. Routing within the mall’s parking lot will also change as a result. Finally, as a result to both of these changes, scheduling changes will be enacted with more uniform frequencies throughout the day.


Route 73

# 2655 leaving the Park St Terminal.

While on the subject of bus stop balancing, Route 73 will be seeing faster travel times & a scheduling adjustment due to these changes.


Central Ave Trolley

# 922 approaching Grand Central Station.

The Central Ave Trolley (CAT) will also undergo some bus stop balancing, but the biggest change will take place in St. Pete Beach.

If you reside in Pinellas County, then chances are, you’re already aware of the discord between PSTA & the community of St. Pete Beach. I won’t go into details as to what it’s all about, but to give a brief synopsis for those who aren’t familiar with the situation; St. Pete Beach is NOT a member city of the PSTA network. They’ve simply paid PSTA an “a-la-carte” fee every year to have CAT service provided to Pass-A-Grille beach. This agreement remained intact with few (if any) changes for many years until the Central Ave Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project came to light.

With the BRT project, there have been some miscommunication between PSTA & St. Pete Beach leaders by which have resulted in not only these leaders not supporting the BRT project wholeheartedly, but also effectively ending the prospect of CAT service serving Pass-A-Grille for at least the foreseeable future. Instead, city leaders have signed an agreement with a microtransit provider that will be running electric golf cart-like vehicles (you may have seen these in Downtown Tampa & Downtown St. Pete previously) through the community.

With these changes come the loss of what was a very convenient one-seat ride for those who wanted to visit Pass-A-Grille, which is often times far less congested than Clearwater Beach. In my personal opinion however, if St. Pete Beach is unwilling to work with PSTA & would rather play blame games & spew misinformation about the BRT, then I’d say, let these leaders do what they wish & see who suffers later. Because it won’t be these elected leaders who feel negative repercussions later on, it’s the countless number of residents & workers who rely on the CAT each day to get to & from work, school, & other necessary places.

Commentary aside, here’s what to expect over the next couple of months.

  • Sunday, October 20, 2019:
    • CAT service will begin to be phased out of the Pass-A-Grille area of St. Pete Beach. New schedules & maps reflect this change.
    • An 8-week transition period will take place between CAT service ending & the start of the new St. Pete Beach microtransit service.
  • Sometime in December, 2019:
    • The St. Pete Beach microtransit service, provided by BeeFree, will begin. An exact date is yet to be determined.
  • Sometime in February, 2020:
    • Very likely during the February, 2020 service change cycle – depending on when modifications to the Pinellas County beach access at 4600 Gulf Blvd can be completed, CAT service will begin truncating here & will no longer proceed south of 46th Ave on Gulf Blvd.
    • Changes to Route 90 may also be enacted during this time. Right now, it’s business as usual for the 90 (no changes will be enacted on 10/20/19).
  • View my Google Map showing these changes.

North County Connector

You may still see these vans around the Countryside & Dunedin areas, but for how much longer remains a question. # 1805 is pictured here.

Due to current ridership patterns, PSTA has decided to convert all three North County Connector flex routes into standard fixed routes. Few people were making flex reservations & when such reservations were made, vans were often thrown behind schedule – despite several efforts to try & build such time into account. The new routes will go by the current internal numbering for the flex routes – which are 812 (Tampa/Oldsmar), 813 (Dunedin/Palm Harbor), & 814 (Safety Harbor). Additionally, the 812 & 813 will see a shift back to their pre-2018 routings in the Countryside & Dunedin areas respectively. During the past year, the 812 was removed from Countryside Blvd in favor of Belcher Rd & the 813 was shifted off Alderman Rd in favor of Nebraska Ave.

A lot of questions have been raised as far as how much longer these routes would remain in operation due to the overall low usage. In my opinion, I can see the 813 & 814 being combined into one fixed route in the next couple of years that would run limited Monday through Saturday trips. For the 812, once the All For Transportation money in Hillsborough is available & transit system improvements are able to kick into high gear, that route will be eventually replaced by a HART-operated limited express service. Both changes would allow for the current line of vans to be used elsewhere in the PSTA network – for maybe circulator shuttles or special events.


Other Changes

# 17101 on the 100X. The 100X will not change this time around, but the 300X will see some minor scheduling adjustments.

Minor scheduling changes will be made to Routes 9, 14, 20, 52, 52LX, 59 (Largo Mall routing/stop consolidation), 62, & 300X.


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HART July 4th Holiday Service & July Service Changes

Plus holiday schedules for other selected transit agencies

This combined post will cover special holiday service that Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) will be launching for the July 4th holiday, holiday schedules for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) & a few others, plus go over approved service changes for HART that will take place on Sunday, July 14, 2019.


So what exactly is HART doing for July 4?

Generally, HART has provided some form of extra transit service for the July 4th evening festivities – including extended streetcar service. However this year, they will be running two special complimentary shuttles in the downtown Tampa area to help shuttle people between points in downtown & the Marion Transit Center. This will make it convenient for those who don’t want to hassle with parking in downtown.

A map of the complimentary HART services during July 4th holiday festivities. Click on the image to view the full PDF file.

In addition to the above services, HART will operate its entire system FARE FREE that day. Just keep in mind that all routes will operate on a Sunday schedule & not all routes operate through 12-midnight. Below is a quick rundown of what times the last buses depart the Marion Transit Center.

  • Route 1 – Florida Ave Corridor: 10:05pm
  • Route 5 – 40th St Corridor: 10:00pm
  • Route 6 – 56th St Corridor: 11:00pm
  • Route 7 – West Tampa: 10:00pm
  • Route 9 – 15th/30th Streets: 10:00pm
  • Route 12 – 22nd St Corridor: 10:00pm
  • Route 19 – South Tampa: 10:00pm
  • Route 30 – Kennedy Blvd Corridor/TPA Airport: 12:05am
  • Route 60LX – TPA Airport: 10:00pm
  • MetroRapid Nebraska: 12:00am
  • Routes 8 & 275LX end prior to 9:30pm & thus aren’t listed here.

For schedule information, visit the HART website.
For information on the July 4th festivities – Boom by the Bay, visit the City of Tampa website.


July 4th holiday transit schedules elsewhere

Many transit agencies across the nation will operate limited to no service due to the holiday. Please be sure to plan accordingly if using transit.

  • Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA), StarMetro, the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX), & Miami-Dade Transit will also operate a Sunday schedule.
  • Votran will operate on a special holiday schedule. Please view the website for details.
  • Many other agencies – such as Pasco County Public Transportation & Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) will not operate. SunRail in Orlando will also not operate.

HART July Service Changes

Finally, I’d like to quickly highlight some of the system changes that HART will be rolling out on Sunday, July 14, 2019. These changes will mostly comprise of minor scheduling/time point changes, but three routes will be changed to help restore service lost during the Mission MAX system restructuring in 2017.

Schedules can be viewed on the HART website by selecting the menu button on the upper-right-hand corner, then selecting “Maps & Schedules”, then selecting “System Map & Schedules”, then selecting the routes drop-down box, & then scrolling down to the bottom listing within the drop-down that reads “HART Service Changes, Effective 7/14/19 – Coming Soon”.

  • Route 16 – Waters Ave: Will continue to serve the Rowlett Park loop on eastbound trips. However, buses will travel to the Yukon Transfer Center via Florida Ave after completing the loop & layover at the transfer facility. Buses will then travel straight to Northwest Transfer Center going westbound.
  • Route 30 – Kennedy Blvd/TPA Airport: Service in the WestShore Business District will be altered to restore fixed transit service to Cypress Point Park & the Social Security Administration offices off Cypress St. This area used to be served by Route 10 prior to its elimination during Mission MAX.
  • Route 39 – Busch Blvd: After completing the southbound/eastbound jog on Puritan Rd, 50th St, & Sligh Ave, buses will terminate at the NetPark Transfer Center. Westbound buses will not service 50th St & will continue directly to Northwest Transfer Center. Service to Yukon Transfer Center will NOT be restored at this time. It is unclear what HART may do in the future.
  • Routes 7, 8, 35, 37, and 38 will see minor scheduling changes during the weekdays, with Routes 14, 16, 30, 39, 45, and 46 seeing minor scheduling changes during the entire week.

I will begin updating my HART section here on the Global Transit Guidebook website soon. This will include a brand new route listing, an expanded transit vehicle photo gallery, & updated customer information.


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Getting Around Pinellas During Spring Break 2019

Avoid parking & traffic hassles, use transit this Spring Break!



It’s hard to believe that March is just around the corner, and with that comes the rush of college students and families from all across Pinellas County and beyond to enjoy the county’s award-winning beaches. Also along with that, comes a lot of traffic and parking headaches. In this post, I will break down some of the alternatives available to you should you join in on the Spring Break hustle and bustle.


Extra Transportation Options in Clearwater Beach

Looking towards Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach, a hotspot of tourist activity during Spring Break.

Let’s begin with the award-winning Clearwater Beach, which is a consistent hotspot for tourists & residents alike. Because of the immense amount of people who visit Clearwater throughout the year, peak tourist seasons always bring forth massive amounts of traffic across the Memorial Causeway bridge, & this year will certainly be no exception.

To help alleviate some of the congestion and to promote an alternative option to get to and from Clearwater Beach, the City of Clearwater and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) collaborated last year to provide additional bus trips between the beach and designated park-and-ride lots in downtown Clearwater. While the initiative was considered a success, it was met with many challenges – including where to let customers on and off at once at Clearwater Beach.

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) Clearwater Beach Transit Center – which was constructed last year – will once again become the focal point of beachside transit operations in Clearwater Beach. While this facility provides a safe avenue for tourists & residents to board or de-board a bus on the westbound side of the causeway, the eastbound side has remained a challenge. This year, the agency – with its partners at the City of Clearwater – has constructed a second transit platform by the Clearwater Beach Marina to allow those heading back to Downtown Clearwater a safe avenue to board without having to circle the roundabout.

Whether you’re driving into the Clearwater area, or using a PSTA bus route to connect to the trolleys, you can leave the driving to your bus operator and not have to worry about changing lanes or battling other visitors to find a parking space. I will tell you right now that finding parking in Clearwater Beach is extremely difficult during the peak tourist season, and you could be waiting over 15 minutes in some cases just to find a parking space.

For the Spring Break 2019 season, PSTA has created a page on its website where you can learn more about the expanded trolley service and park-and-ride lot locations. Buses will depart the park-and-ride lots every 15 minutes (with PSTA and Jolley Trolley vehicles alternating trips) and customers will be able to park at the lots for free. Once at Clearwater Beach, you will be able to exit at the Clearwater Beach Transit Center and will only need to walk a short distance to get to the powder white sand of the beach, or other nearby shopping and dining destinations.

Please keep peeled to the PSTA website for special Spring Break transit promotions!


The Clearwater Ferry

For those who enjoy being out on the water, the Clearwater Ferry is a fun & convenient alternative to crossing the Memorial Causeway. Ferry landings are located alongside Downtown Clearwater, the Clearwater Beach Marina, Island Estates, and the northern end of Clearwater. There’s also a separate route that serves Dunedin, so you can take advantage of that avenue as well! Further information regarding the ferry, including current fares, are available through their website.


Transportation Options to St. Pete Beach

St. Pete Beach is another tourist hotspot during Spring Break, but isn’t as congested as Clearwater Beach. Nonetheless, roadways can get jammed at times and parking can be a hassle. Additionally, roadway construction around Pass-A-Grille is making getting around a headache of its own.

PSTA provides trolley service to St. Pete Beach and Pass-A-Grille via the Central Avenue Trolley. The trolley operates every 20 minutes during the day on weekdays and every 30 minutes during the evening and all day on weekends. Please note that some trips may be delayed or rerouted due to construction in Pass-A-Grille. PSTA is currently exploring the possibility of truncating Central Avenue Trolley service at the Don Cesar Beach Resort stop, and having customers transfer to a shuttle bus or van to complete their trip to Pass-A-Grille.

St. Pete Beach also serves as the southern terminus for the Suncoast Beach Trolley – which departs every 30 minutes. You can catch either trolley at the Gulf Blvd/75th Ave transfer point and quickly get to and from the beaches – whether you’re coming from St. Pete, Clearwater, or somewhere in between.


What if I’m going to another beach?

Most of Pinellas’ award-winning beaches are served by either a PSTA bus or trolley, or the Jolley Trolley lines. The only exceptions are Fort Desoto Park/Beach, Honeymoon Island, Sunset Beach, and Fred Howard Park, as there is no transit service to these destinations. However, bicyclists can ride to these areas without having to venture too far off from a bus route or The Pinellas Trail system.

The Central Avenue Trolley serves the following destinations:

  • Pass-A-Grille Beach
  • St. Pete Beach (transfer point to the Suncoast Beach Trolley is at 75th Ave @ Gulf Blvd)
  • South Pasadena
  • Central Avenue Corridor & the historic Grand Central District
  • PSTA Grand Central Station
  • The Edge (Arts & Entertainment) District
  • Downtown St. Petersburg (including Beach Dr, Sundial Shoppes, and The Pier District)

The Suncoast Beach Trolley serves the following destinations:

  • St. Pete Beach
  • Treasure Island
  • Madeira Beach (including the John’s Pass Shopping District & Boardwalk)
    • Connection to Route 68 is available at John’s Pass. Simply exit the trolley at the stops across from the shopping district and board Route 68 at the northbound-facing stop along Gulf Blvd. You may also transfer by exiting the trolley at any stop along Gulf Blvd between the shopping district & 150th Ave (Tom Stuart Causeway).
  • Reddington Beaches (including Reddington Shores)
    Indian Shores
  • Indian Rocks Beach
    • Connection to Route 59 is available at 4th Ave. Simply exit the trolley at the Gulf Blvd stop by the CVS Pharmacy at 4th Ave & walk one block east to the stop on 4th Ave @ 1st St.
  • There are no stops in the Belleair Beach or Belleair Shores areas.
    • Unfortunately, these communities are not very friendly to transit and do not wish to place any funding towards transit service, so thus there are no trolley stops in these communities.
  • Sand Key Beach
  • Clearwater Beach (including dining and entertainment)
  • PSTA Clearwater Beach Transit Center
  • Island Estates (early morning trips only)
  • PSTA Park St Terminal
  • Downtown Clearwater dining and entertainment
    • The Jolley Trolley Beach Route serves Island Estates after 10:00am. The route also serves many popular Clearwater Beach destinations throughout the day. Departure times are staggered so that you don’t have to wait too long for either a PSTA Suncoast Beach Trolley or a Jolley Trolley vehicle to arrive if you’re traversing the island.

The Jolley Trolley Coastal Route serves the following destinations:

  • Sand Key Beach
  • Clearwater Beach (including dining and entertainment)
  • PSTA Clearwater Beach Transit Center
  • Island Estates
  • PSTA Park St Terminal
  • Downtown Clearwater dining and entertainment
  • Various coastal destinations throughout Dunedin, Ozona, and Tarpon Springs – including the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks.

Regardless of where you venture off to via PSTA, be sure to download the Transit App before you go!


What other transportation options are available?

For those who aren’t using transit to get around, but still don’t want to rent a vehicle, you can utilize Uber and Lyft. Just keep in mind that surge pricing may be in effect during periods of high demand. Taxicab companies will also be busy shutting people around the area.

If you’re visiting Downtown St. Petersburg, you can also take advantage of Coast Bike Share. Fees are affordable and there are numerous hubs located throughout the city.

Going into other counties?

If you plan to visit Hillsborough, Pasco, or Manatee County, please see the resources below for further information.


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Toronto Blue Jays Spring Training Transportation

Park for free, Ride for free…


Baseball Spring Training is back, which means heading out to the stadium, fighting traffic, battling to find a good parking spot, & maybe having to pay to get into the lot in the process.

It doesn’t have to be that way if you’re heading to Dunedin Stadium to watch the Toronto Blue Jays though. The city of Dunedin, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), & the Clearwater Jolley Trolley, have teamed up to provide a free Park-N-Ride lot in downtown Dunedin, along with free Jolley Trolley service to and from the stadium. The promotion begins Saturday, February 23, 2019 & runs until Friday, March 22, 2019.

For further information, please select from one of the following links. Please be advised that game dates & times are subject to change.


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PSTA Express Routes Revisited

Moving Towards Better Express Bus Service In Tampa Bay



Post was updated on 03/03/2019.
Information has been added regarding the planned start of the PSTA/FDOT shoulder-running pilot project on I-275.


The last time I wrote a post on my experiences on Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) Routes 100X & 300X was way back in 2012. Lots have changed since that time – including me moving over to Pinellas County & PSTA changing the routing and schedules for both routes. In this post, I will provide an update on where these routes are now and where we’re heading.


Route 100X

Ever since it was established, the 100X has always traveled between Downtown Tampa & Gateway Mall in St. Petersburg. Originally, the route was operated by Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART), but was handed over to PSTA in 1990. Frequency has greatly varied over the years, with departures ranging between 30 minute peak headways and 60 minute off-peak headways, with limited midday service. However, the biggest limitation of the 100X is that current funding levels do not allow it to run on weekends – creating a large void for those who want to cross into Hillsborough County and vice versa all week long.

PSTA Route 100X map. Select the image to view the current schedule.

While the map can look a bit intimidating, one thing to note is that only certain marked stops are served. In some areas, the bus will serve nearly all localized stops, while in other areas, buses will only serve selected intersections. It is important to know which stops serve the 100X so that you can properly catch the bus.

You’ll be able to spot a 100X stop by the two above indicators: GREEN – the 100X label on the standard PSTA bus stop & RED: a special designation sign indicating that the 100X bus stop here.
  • Downtown St. Petersburg
    • A vast majority of designated PSTA stops along portions of 1st Ave N & 1st Ave S are served, as well as selected stops along other downtown corridors. Buses use I-275 & I-375 to traverse between 54th Ave N & Downtown St. Pete. Please note that there are currently no stops along 54th Ave N.
  • Fossil Park
    • Buses travel northbound only on 4th St N between 54th Ave N & 77th Ave N & southbound only on MLK St N between 77th Ave N & 54th Ave N. Only selected stops at selected intersections are served.
  • Gateway Mall Transfer Center: Connections are available to Routes 4, 9, 16, 58, 74, & 75.
  • South Gateway
    • From the Gateway Mall Transfer Center stop to Gandy Blvd via MLK St N, 83rd Ave N, & 4th St N, almost all designated PSTA stops are served.
    • On Gandy Blvd, all designated PSTA stops are served, but stops are limited along the corridor approaching the Gandy Bridge.
  • South Tampa
    • Once in Hillsborough County, buses traverse Gandy Blvd from the bridge to Dale Mabry Hwy with localized stops available. Customers can connect with HART Route 17 at Manhattan Ave.
    • Buses then travel on Dale Mabry Hwy between Gandy and the Britton Plaza Transfer Center, with localized stops available. Customers can connect with HART Route 360LX anywhere along the corridor.
  • HART Britton Plaza Transfer Center: Connections are available to HART Routes 17, 19, 36, 360LX, & the South Tampa Flex route.
  • Downtown Tampa
    • After leaving Britton Plaza, buses go non-stop again, but via the Selmon Expressway, to travel to Downtown Tampa. Those wishing to access points along Dale Mabry Hwy between Britton Plaza & Bay to Bay Blvd, or Bay to Bay Blvd between Dale Mabry Hwy & MacDill Ave will need to use HART Route 360LX instead.
    • Once in Downtown Tampa, buses serve all stops along the Marion St Transitway & terminate at the HART Marion Transit Center North Platform. Customers can connect to either PSTA Route 300X, or a variety of HART services – including MetroRapid. Connections with MegaBus & RedCoach services are also available at the North Platform. Please visit www.gohart.org for a current listing of connections at the Marion Transit Center, as routes & boarding locations can change.

Route 300X

Route 300X was established in 2003 to allow customers in central Pinellas direct limited-stop access to Downtown Tampa. A Park-N-Ride lot (originally a KFC) is situated near the corner of Ulmerton Rd & Starkey Rd for customers who wish to leave their vehicles instead of crossing the Howard Frankland Bridge. Customers from Routes 59 & 73 are also able to easily access the facility. In 2016, the lot received a much-needed facelift that included lot resurfacing, bus lane redesign, a new green space, & shelters.

Like the 100X, overall frequency on the 300X has varied since its 2003 launch, with initial frequency being every 30 minutes during peak hours & limited midday service. Over time, peak frequency has been cut back to every hour due to ridership pattern changes & funding constraints. Also like the 100X, there is also no weekend service. However, unlike the 100X, the 300X has always had limited stops throughout its entire journey (see the route map below).

In 2018, PSTA restructured & re-branded the 300X to serve Tampa International Airport’s public bus hub, located adjacent to its rental car center. This allows customers to leave their vehicles at home or park conveniently at the Ulmerton Park-N-Ride lot & catch a bus to the airport. To address rider concerns about connecting between the lot & Downtown Tampa (including HART’s Marion Transit Center) directly, one AM trip & one PM trip skips the airport.

As a result of the restructuring, the 300X is now referred to as the “Airport Express” & buses # 16101, 16103, & 16106 (all 2016 40-foot Gillig Low Floor hybrids) have sported special wrapping for the service. Additionally, some seating on these buses have been removed to accommodate luggage racks.

PSTA Route 300X map. Notice the limited number of designated stops? Select the image to view the current schedule.

What does the future hold?

Unless PSTA is able to locate additional funding avenues, such as the passage of a county-wide sales tax referendum, don’t expect too much to change with either express route. However, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is currently working with PSTA on two projects that will affect the 100X.

The first is a shoulder-running pilot by which when congestion on I-275 becomes bad, buses will be allowed to run along a hardened outer shoulder to bypass traffic. The second is the redesign and usage of an FDOT-owned lot on 22nd Ave N by the interstate that is currently used for Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (TBARTA) sponsored carpools & vanpools. PSTA would be able to use the redesigned lot for Park-N-Ride operations for the 100X. Both projects are connected to the broader, yet controversial plan to bring variable toll lanes to I-275 and other thoroughfares throughout the region. FDOT also continues to provide funding support for both routes via its Urban Corridor Project.

On February 26, 2019, FDOT announced that construction of the revised shoulders on I-275 between Gandy Blvd & 5th Ave N will begin this fall, with scheduled completion & operation in early 2020. It is not clear when the Park-N-Ride project will commence.


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Winter 2019 Service Changes

It’s that time again…

It’s that time again, time to roll out the next batch of transit system service changes. Effective dates and scope of changes will vary greatly by transit agency. For this post, I’m going to divide each of the changes by transit agency and arrange by effective date.

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Fall 2018 Service Changes

It’s that time again…

It’s that time again, time to roll out the next batch of transit system service changes. Effective dates and scope of changes will vary greatly by transit agency. For this post, I’m going to divide each of the changes by transit agency and arrange by effective date.

Read more

PSTA Bus Fleet – September, 2018

#2116 at Williams Park. I last saw this bus in operation back in February, 2018.

Something that I don’t talk about too often via a blog post is bus fleet changes. And for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), there’s been a ton going on recently – old buses leaving, new buses arriving or on order, and sadly…buses getting into accidents.

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Summer Service Changes – PSTA, HART, LYNX, SunRail, Votran

This post was last updated on 06/19/2018
More information has been released regarding the upcoming service changes for LYNX, SunRail, & Votran

It’s that time again…service changes, service changes, service changes!

In this post, I will outline some of the key changes that are coming to the following transit agencies: Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART), Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (d.b.a. LYNX), SunRail Commuter Rail, & Volusia County Transit (Votran).

Please note that with some of the agencies, further detailed information may not be available immediately as of this posting. Updates will be made when that information becomes available. This post is meant to present a general level overview of some of the key changes that will be enacted during the course of the next two months.

Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA)

PSTA is enacting several map/scheduling/time point changes on Sunday, June 17, 2018, which can be viewed on the PSTA website. The most significant changes however will take place the following day, Monday, June 18, 2018 – when Routes 100X & 300X will be officially re-launched as extended versions of their current selves. This will allow both routes to each serve a key area in the Tampa Bay region that wasn’t previously served by a PSTA express bus route.

  • Route 100X – St. Petersburg/Gateway/Tampa Express: Thanks to additional Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Urban Corridor Project funding, the 100X will be extended southward to serve Downtown St. Petersburg via Interstate 275. All existing points (Gateway Mall, Britton Plaza in South Tampa, and Downtown Tampa) will continue to be served as they are today, with the limited trips to the Fidelity National (FIS) complex on Roosevelt Blvd & 16th Ct N being kept. The overall span of service within the existing route will largely remain the same, but adjustments to the schedule have been made to account for the Downtown St. Petersburg leg, thus creating an expansion to the overall span of service when the extension is accounted for.
    • The redesigned Route 100X will continue to operate Monday through Friday only, but will have a peak-hour frequency of roughly every 45 to 50 minutes, instead of the current 30 to 60 minute frequency. The midday trips have also been re-timed.
    • Buses will originate in Downtown St. Pete, at The Pier District (2nd Ave N, just east of the Sundial Shoppes where the Central Ave Trolley terminates), with the first trip of the morning departing at 4:42am.
    • From The Pier District, buses will circulate through the downtown area – serving all designated bus stops along the way – before entering the interstate system via I-375. Buses will then exit I-375 and enter I-275 north, then exiting at 54th Ave N.
    • From 54th Ave N, southbound/westbound buses travel along MLK St N while northbound/eastbound buses use 4th St N to enter/exit Gateway Mall.
    • From Gateway Mall eastward, the existing routing is used. The last trip from downtown St. Pete will be at 5:42pm.
  • Route 300X – Gateway/TPA Airport/Tampa Express (re-branded as the “Airport Express”): With the opening of the bus transfer hub at Tampa International Airport’s Rental Car Center, PSTA began formulating plans to alter Route 300X service while longer term plans for a direct express route from Clearwater Beach to Tampa continue to materialize. FDOT Urban Corridor funding will allow for the 300X to serve the TPA Airport Bus Hub on most trips while maintaining hourly peak service & the limited midday trips. Two trips (one AM eastbound & one PM westbound) will be kept as direct trips between the Ulmerton Rd Park-N-Ride Lot & Downtown Tampa via I-275. The overall span of service will remain largely the same – with a slightly earlier start time & somewhat later end time.
    • The redesigned Route 300X will continue to operate Monday through Friday only, with peak frequency changing to operate hourly versus the existing schedule. The midday trips have also been re-timed.
    • Buses will continue to originate at the Ulmerton Rd Park-N-Ride Lot on Ulmerton Rd, just east of Starkey Rd. The only major routing change is that most trips will now serve the TPA Airport Bus Hub, where customers from Pinellas can easily transfer to HART Routes 30, 32, 35, 60LX, & 275LX. Future plans also include Pasco Transit launching its own express route from central Pasco County to the bus hub.
    • The first eastbound trip of the morning will be at 6:10am, with the last trip being 6:20pm.
    • Only the 7:00AM Eastbound trip from the Ulmerton Rd Park-N-Ride Lot & the 4:55PM Westbound trip from HART’s Marion Transit Center will skip the airport. These trips will travel between Downtown Tampa and the Gateway area directly. These trips are being retained as direct trips to/from Downtown Tampa due to concerns from customers who use the existing 300X during the height of rush hour to get to/from work.
  • Other Changes: Minor map/scheduling/time point changes will be made to Routes 5, 7, 14, 15, 16, 20, 68, & the Dunedin/Palm Harbor Flex Connector (Route 813).

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART)

HART will be enacting similar changes to some of its bus routes on Sunday, July 1, 2018, which can be viewed on the HART website (Select the Routes drop-down menu and scroll to the “HART Service Changes – Effective 71/18” section to view maps and schedules). The most significant changes will include the replacement of Route 51LX with Route 275LX, the addition of Route 48 – which restores service to key areas of northeastern Hillsborough that was lost when Route 57 was eliminated in October, 2017, and the elimination of the Downtown Tampa In-Towner Trolley Services due to ultra-low ridership.

  • Route 14 – Armenia Ave: Weekday service will be completely re-timed to reflect traffic patterns during the day. Buses will now depart roughly every 30 to 35 minutes. Weekend frequency will remain unchanged.
  • Route 48 – Temple Terrace: One of the biggest complaints by far that I’ve seen since the Mission MAX system restructuring was implemented back in October of 2017 was the elimination of Route 57 through Temple Terrace. The 57 was eliminated due to lower ridership & high upkeep costs, but many residents complained that they were left with no avenue to get to work or other destinations in Hillsborough without the route in place. While these residents clamored for HART to revive the 57, the route in its previous form was not going to return due to certain areas having ultra-low ridership levels. However, talks for a replacement service to serve key areas where residents were left with no service begin gaining traction during the late winter of 2017, when Hillsborough County officials began discussing the possibility of additional funding for the transit system. While a recurring funding arrangement failed to be reached, a one-time infusion was agreed upon to provide additional funds for service maintenance and expansion through FY 2018.
    • The routing for the 48 will be similar to how the 57 operated, with buses originating at the NetPark Transfer Center on 56th St & Harney Rd. Buses will leave the transfer center going south on 56th to Harney Rd, then 78th St, Temple Terrace Hwy, Davis Rd, Morris Bridge Rd, and then Fowler Ave. The previous segment of the 57 along 56th St and Fletcher Ave will not be served by the 48 due to the 6 already serving those areas. 42nd St & Skipper Rd just north of the USF Tampa campus will also not be served by the 48. Buses will instead continue down Fowler Ave to 30th St, where they will connect to the University Area Transit Center.
    • Service will run hourly, with weekday service starting at 5:30AM & running through 9:30PM. Weekend service will pretty much mirror the weekday schedule.
  • Routes 51LX/275LX: Due to the continuing decline in ridership of Route 51LX, which runs from Pasco County to Downtown Tampa via Temple Terrace, HART will be eliminating the route entirely & replacing East Pasco to Downtown Tampa Limited Express service with Route 275LX. The 275LX will operate all week long instead of just during weekday peak hours with hourly frequency, plus service to Tampa International Airport. The agency is re-allocating its funds through the FDOT Urban Corridor Project to fund the 275LX service.
    • With the 275LX, buses will originate at the Wiregrass Park-N-Ride Lot in Wesley Chapel, then travel down Bruce B. Downs Blvd to the Lowe’s Park-N-Ride Lot near I-75 in Tampa Palms. From there, buses will make a stop at the University Area Transit Center via Bruce B. Downs Blvd, then to Downtown Tampa & the Marion Transit Center via Fowler Ave & I-275. The segment along Bruce B. Downs Blvd & Fowler Ave will essentially restore basic service to areas along these corridors that were lost when Route 45 was re-aligned & Route 57 was eliminated back in October, 2017.
    • From the Marion Transit Center, buses will re-enter I-275 and terminate at the Tampa International Airport Bus Hub at the Rental Car Center, with departures synchronizing with Route 60LX so that customers traveling between the airport & downtown can enjoy a roughly 30 minute headway. Service on the 275LX itself will be hourly, with service starting up at approximately 5:10AM & running through about 10:00PM. Two trips will originate at the Marion Transit Center going to Tampa International Airport & the other two will originate at the University Area Transit Center going to Wiregrass. In the evening, trips will stagger to end at either transit center between 9:50PM & 11:00PM. Weekend schedules will basically mirror the weekday schedule.
  • In-Towner Services: Due to the continuing decline in ridership, Routes 96 & 97 will be eliminated. Customers wishing to traverse through Downtown Tampa can utilize Routes 1, 8, or 19, with Routes 1 & 19 serving western Downtown & the Riverfront, & Route 8 serving eastern Downtown & the Channelside District. Customers can also use the Downtowner free shuttle service provided by the Tampa-Downtown Partnership. Talks are currently underway as to the possibility of the partnership transferring operation of the shuttle service to HART.
  • HyperLINK Service: Despite the initial success of the HyperLINK ride-share type program, various factors – including whether there would be future commitments to run the service by private sector vendors – have prompted HART to end the service. Service in all zones will wind down on July 31, 2018.
  • Other Changes: Minor map/scheduling/time point changes will be made to Routes 1, 25LX, 31, 42, & 45.

Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (d.b.a. LYNX) & SunRail Commuter Rail

In anticipation of the opening of Phase II of SunRail from Sand Lake Rd in southern Orlando to Poinciana, LYNX is making key changes to the bus network in Osceola County, along with changes to other routes in the overall network to improve system efficiency.

Xpress Route 208, which currently runs from the SunRail Sand Lake Rd Station to the Kissimmee Intermodal Station, will end services on Friday, July 27, 2018. SunRail trains begin operating between the Sand Lake Rd & Poinciana Stations the following Monday, July 30, 2018.

Also in anticipation for the SunRail extension, a new route will be created in Osceola County – Route 155 – which will serve The Loop, Osceola Parkway, Tupperware SunRail Station and Buena Ventura Lakes.

You may view all of the upcoming changes – most of which will become effective on Sunday, July 15, 2018 – on the LYNX website. Further updates will be made when schedules for each individual route become available.

The new SunRail schedule is now available on the SunRail website by selecting the banner on the homepage. A PDF file will then open with the new schedule.

Volusia County Transit (Votran)

Votran has an odd tendency to not post service changes in a very timely manner. However this time, they’ve posted a week ahead regarding the launch of Route 44 in the New Smyrna Beach area. This route will connect the Julia St & Sams Ave transfer point in downtown NSB to the WalMart supercenter & Shoppes at Coronado complexes on the northwest corner of SR 44 & I-95. Buses will then travel eastward to the beachside, to Indian River Village, before heading back to the downtown NSB transfer point. Service begins on Monday, June 25, 2018 and will operate on a flag-stop system until permanent stops are constructed.

Further updates will be made when the new schedule & map are posted.


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Getting Around Pinellas During Spring Break 2018

It’s hard to believe that March is just around the corner, and with that comes the rush of college students and families from all across Pinellas County and beyond to enjoy the county’s award-winning beaches. Also along with that, comes a lot of traffic and parking headaches. In this post, I will break down some of the alternatives available to you should you join in on the Spring Break hustle and bustle.


Extra Transportation Options in Clearwater Beach

Looking towards Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach, a hotspot of tourist activity during Spring Break.

Let’s first begin in Clearwater Beach, which is extremely popular amongst county residents and visitors alike. In fact, the beach was just named the best beach in the United States by TripAdvisor, based on reader reviews. It’s also one of the most congested beach communities in Pinellas due to the massive amounts of traffic that come across the Memorial Causeway bridge each day during the peak tourist season.

To help alleviate some of the congestion and to promote an alternative option to get to and from Clearwater Beach, the City of Clearwater and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) collaborated last year to provide additional bus trips between the beach and designated park-and-ride lots in downtown Clearwater. While the initiative was considered a success, it was met with many challenges – including where to let customers on and off at once at Clearwater Beach.

For this year, PSTA – along with the City of Clearwater – constructed the Clearwater Beach Transit Center along the westbound lanes of the Memorial Causeway, just east of the Clearwater Beach roundabout.  This facility includes a bus pull-in bay that can accommodate up to three transit vehicles, as well as shelters for customers. The PSTA Suncoast Beach Trolley, as well as both Jolley Trolley routes (Beach and Coastal), will serve the facility.

Whether you’re driving into the Clearwater area, or using a PSTA bus route to connect to the trolleys, you can leave the driving to your bus operator and not have to worry about changing lanes or battling other visitors to find a parking space. I will tell you right now that finding parking in Clearwater Beach is extremely difficult during the peak tourist season, and you could be waiting over 15 minutes in some cases just to find a parking space.

For the Spring Break 2018 season, PSTA has created a page on its website where you can learn more about the expanded trolley service and park-and-ride lot locations. Buses will depart the park-and-ride lots every 15 minutes (with PSTA and Jolley Trolley vehicles alternating trips) and customers will be able to park at the lots for free. Once at Clearwater Beach, you will be able to exit at the Clearwater Beach Transit Center and will only need to walk a short distance to get to the powder white sand of the beach, or other nearby shopping and dining destinations.

Anyone who parks their vehicle at one of the designated Park-and-Ride Lots will receive a FREE day pass for use throughout the entire PSTA system.

In addition to the PSTA and Jolley Trolleys, the Clearwater Ferry is also making improvements to handle this year’s Spring Break crowds – by adding boats and boosting its schedule. The service is also planning to execute an expansion to Dunedin, with further plans to expand to other beachside destinations. Fares are $4.00 each way, with discounted fares available for Seniors, active Military members, and children.


Transportation Options to St. Pete Beach

A Central Ave Trolley vehicle at Pass-A-Grille.

St. Pete Beach is another tourist hotspot during Spring Break, but isn’t as congested as Clearwater Beach. Nonetheless, roadways can get jammed at times and parking can be a hassle. Additionally, roadway construction around Pass-A-Grille is making getting around a headache of its own.

PSTA provides trolley service to St. Pete Beach and Pass-A-Grille via the Central Avenue Trolley. The trolley operates every 20 minutes during the day on weekdays and every 30 minutes during the evening and all day on weekends. Please note that some trips may be delayed or rerouted due to construction in Pass-A-Grille. PSTA is currently exploring the possibility of truncating Central Avenue Trolley service at the Don Cesar Beach Resort stop, and having customers transfer to a shuttle bus or van to complete their trip to Pass-A-Grille.

St. Pete Beach also serves as the southern terminus for the Suncoast Beach Trolley – which departs every 30 minutes. You can catch either trolley at the Gulf Blvd/75th Ave transfer point and quickly get to and from the beaches – whether you’re coming from St. Pete, Clearwater, or somewhere in between.


What if I’m going to another beach?

Most of Pinellas’ award-winning beaches are served by either a PSTA bus or trolley, or the Jolley Trolley lines. The only exceptions are Fort Desoto Park/Beach, Honeymoon Island, Sunset Beach, and Fred Howard Park, as there is no transit service to these destinations. However, bicyclists can ride to these areas without having to venture too far off from a bus route or The Pinellas Trail system.

The Central Avenue Trolley serves the following destinations:

  • Pass-A-Grille Beach
  • St. Pete Beach (transfer point to the Suncoast Beach Trolley is at 75th Ave @ Gulf Blvd)
  • South Pasadena
  • Central Avenue Corridor & the historic Grand Central District
  • PSTA Grand Central Station
  • The Edge (Arts & Entertainment) District
  • Downtown St. Petersburg (including Beach Dr, Sundial Shoppes, and The Pier District)

The Suncoast Beach Trolley serves the following destinations:

  • St. Pete Beach
  • Treasure Island
  • Madeira Beach (including the John’s Pass Shopping District & Boardwalk)
  • Reddington Beaches (including Reddington Shores)
  • Indian Shores
  • Indian Rocks Beach
  • There are no stops in the Belleair Beach or Belleair Shores areas. Unfortunately, these communities are not very friendly to transit and do not wish to place any funding towards transit service, so thus there are no trolley stops in these communities.
  • Sand Key Beach
  • Clearwater Beach (including dining and entertainment)
  • PSTA Clearwater Beach Transit Center
  • Island Estates (early morning trips only)
  • PSTA Park St Terminal
  • Downtown Clearwater dining and entertainment
  • The Jolley Trolley Beach Route serves Island Estates after 10:00am. The route also serves many popular Clearwater Beach destinations throughout the day. Departure times are staggered so that you don’t have to wait too long for either a PSTA Suncoast Beach Trolley or a Jolley Trolley vehicle to arrive if you’re traversing the island.

The Jolley Trolley Coastal Route serves the following destinations:

  • Sand Key Beach
  • Clearwater Beach (including dining and entertainment)
  • PSTA Clearwater Beach Transit Center
  • Island Estates
  • PSTA Park St Terminal
  • Downtown Clearwater dining and entertainment
  • Various coastal destinations throughout Dunedin, Ozona, and Tarpon Springs – including the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks.

Regardless of where you venture off to via PSTA, be sure to download the Transit App before you go!


What other transportation options are available?

For those who aren’t using transit to get around, but still don’t want to rent a vehicle, you can utilize Uber and Lyft. Just keep in mind that surge pricing may be in effect during periods of high demand. Taxicab companies will also be busy shutting people around the area.

If you’re visiting Downtown St. Petersburg, you can also take advantage of Coast Bike Share. Fees are affordable and there are numerous hubs located throughout the city.


Going to Manatee County?

If you decide to venture into Manatee County during the week, Manatee County Area Transit continues to provide its award-winning Skyway ConneXion bus route (Route 203) with two trips per day, Monday through Friday. A one-way fare is $5.00 (with the intercounty fare being $3.00). A day pass can be purchased on board the bus for $10.00, which can be used on all MCAT bus routes. For more information, please visit the MCAT website.


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