HART Flex Service

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Page Updated on 11/3/15.

Updated Information, including the addition of the planned New Tampa Flex Zone.


Service Overview

HART Flex is a flexible-route neighborhood circulator service that provides a combination of door-to-door service via advance reservation and travel along a fixed circulatory route serving designated stops. A fleet of cutaway vans enable customers to travel from their doorstep to school, work, shopping, and other local destinations within their flex zone.

With a reservation, one can travel virtually anywhere within the flex zone. Customers can also walk up to designated stops along the fixed route (marked with a “FLEX” decal on the bus stop sign) and wait for the van to arrive, just like a regular fixed bus route. Connections to points of interest (such as schools, shopping centers, and government buildings) and HART Local and/or Commuter Express routes are made at specific points within the flex zone.


History

Planning for HART Flex began in 2006, when a study was launched to help identify customer needs for the service and flex zones. During the study process, roughly a dozen flex zones were identified throughout Hillsborough County; including SouthShore, Brandon, Riverview/Gibsonton, Seffner, Temple Terrace, Carrollwood, Town-N-Country, Drew Park, and South Tampa.

In 2007, deep state-mandated budget cuts forced HART to postpone the initial launch of HART Flex, as well as impacted which zones could start service. HART eventually chose the SouthShore (replacing faltering circulator route 87) and West Brandon areas as starting points for the service, while maximizing efficiency and reducing costs. This first phase of HART Flex went online on April 12, 2010 and has since seen phenominal response and ridership.

On July 11, 2011, HART Flex was expanded to Northdale, as well as Town-N-Country & South Tampa (replacing circulator routes 88 & 89 respectively). All five zones have since seen a couple of minor tweaks to make the service run more efficiently. Depending on funding levels and customer input, the HART Flex system may be expanded further in the coming years.


Fleet

A CNG-powered cutaway van on the South Tampa Flex route. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012. June, 2014.
A CNG-powered cutaway van on the South Tampa Flex route. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012. June, 2014.

A fleet of 2010 and 2011 model, 22-foot Chevrolet Express Champion Cutaway vans were initially purchased for the HART Flex system. These vans can be easily rebranded into HARTplus Paratransit vehicles if needed. During the course of 2014, a fleet Ford Econoline 450 CNG-powered cutaway vans were brought in as part of HART’s initial CNG-powered cutaway van purchase. These new vans are already being deployed throughout the HART system, replacing older diesel powered vans.


Practical Information

The next section will go through practical information, such as zones and fares.


Zones

HART Flex currently comprises of five zones: SouthShore, West Brandon, Northdale, Town-N-Country, and South Tampa, with a sixth zone to be implemented in New Tampa during the 2015/16 Fiscal Year. Detailed information is listed in the table below. All HART Flex zones are given 500-series route numbers, but these numbers are currently not published on schedule booklets or on goHART.org.

Departure times for Walk-Up Service are posted on HART Flex zone brochures and on goHART.org (these are subject to change of course). Departure times are currently not available on Google Maps or on OneBusAway due to vans not having fareboxes, I’m not sure why this is. Tracking information is not available on Google Maps or through OneBusAway due to privacy laws (due-in-turn to the deviation of routes).

Name (and route number) of HART Flex Zone Operating Hours Destinations Walk-Up Service Departure Times
HART Flex Brandon (570) Monday through Friday: 6am to 8pm.NO WEEKEND OR HOLIDAY SERVICE. Westfield Brandon, Brandon Regional Hospital, Providence Lakes, Bloomingdale Palms. Vans depart Westfield Brandon Mall (bus stop next to the Food Court) every hour at :00 past.
HART Flex SouthShore (571) Monday through Friday: 6am to 8pm.NO WEEKEND OR HOLIDAY SERVICE. Ruskin Winn Dixie, HCC Southshore, Ruskin Sr. Ctr, Ruskin Neighborhood Service Ctr, Suncoast Health Ctr, Southbay Hospital, Kings Point, Sun City Plaza, Sun City Center, Sun City Publix, Wimauma Walmart, Wimauma Senior Ctr, La Estancia Apartments. Vans depart HCC SouthShore campus every hour at :00 past & La Estancia Apartments every hour at :30 past.
HART Flex Northdale (572) Monday through Friday: 5am to about 8:50pm.Saturdays: 6:45am to about 6:30pm.NO SUNDAY OR HOLIDAY SERVICE. Dale Mabry Hwy @ Fletcher Ave, Target, Publix, Gaither H.S., St. Joseph’s Hospital North. Vans depart St. Joseph’s Hospital North and the transfer point at Fletcher Ave & Dale Mabry Hwy every hour at :00 past.
HART Flex Town-N-Country (573) Monday through Friday: 5:15am to 7pm.NO WEEKEND OR HOLIDAY SERVICE. Timberlane Park, Publix, Town N Country Hospital, Town N Country Library. Vans depart the Northwest Transfer Center every hour at :15 past.
HART Flex South Tampa (574) Monday through Friday: 6am to about 7:20pm.NO WEEKEND OR HOLIDAY SERVICE. Westshore Plaza, MacDonald Training Ctr (Select Trips Only), Palma Ceia Country Club, Britton Plaza. Vans depart Britton Plaza every hour at :00 past and WestShore Plaza every hour at :30 past.
HART Flex New Tampa (575)  To be implemented sometime during FY 2015/16  N/A  N/A

Fares

A one-way HART Flex trip is $1.00 and a day pass is $2.00. All HARTride passes are accepted on the HART Flex System. For USF students, the U-Pass Program also extends to HART Flex (meaning that USF students can ride HART Flex at no additional cost with their valid USF ID).


Making a Reservation

Because vans can only seat 12 to 14 customers at a time (depending on the van used, the newer CNG-powered vans only have 12 seats), HART strongly recommends customers to make an advance reservation to be guaranteed a seat. Customers can call 813-254-4278 (Option 2), seven days a week from 8AM to 5PM, to make a reservation. Reservations can be made as early as 3 days in advance, to as late as 2 hours prior to the scheduled trip. If a particular trip that you want to take is full, alternate times will be suggested.


Walk-Up Service

All zones currently offer “Walk-up” service by which a customer can walk up to any designated HART bus stop (with a FLEX decal) and wait for the HART Flex van to arrive. However, walk-up service is first-come, first-served, depending on how full the van is.


“NO-SHOW” POLICY

HART enforces a “No-Show” policy: meaning that…

  • If a customer does not meet with the HART Flex vehicle within five minutes of the scheduled arrival time.

-OR-

  • If the customer fails to cancel his or her reservation less than two hours prior to arrival time.

…then that customer will be considered a “no-show”.

Customers who violate this policy four times within any 30-day period will be suspended from receiving HART Flex service for a two week period. This policy went into effect on June 1, 2010 and has been revised since 2012.


Take your bike with you!

All HART Flex vans are equipped with bike racks (maximum of two bikes per van), and folding bicycles are permitted onboard all vans. No permit is required, but if you’re a first-time user, you can set up a brief training demonstration by contacting HART at (813)-254-4278.

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