PSTA North County Connector (Archived)

Flexing for You


Page was last updated on 10/17/2019,
As of 10/20/2019, PSTA has converted all three Connector routes into standard fixed routes – utilizing each route’s previous internal route number. Therefore, these routes have been immersed into the main routes page & customer information on this page have been removed. This page will remain as a historical information page.


Service Overview

The PSTA North County Connector was a flexible-route neighborhood circulator service that provided 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 could travel virtually anywhere within the flex zone. Customers could also walk up to designated stops along the fixed route 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 PSTA Local routes were made at specific points within the flex zone.


History

Following the launch of HART Flex by Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART), PSTA was already planning its own flex van service aimed at serving residents in northern Pinellas County, most of which had no access to transit services. Additionally, much of northern Pinellas mainly comprises of subdivisions by which normal transit buses are too large to access, making the use of cutaway vans more viable to carry out the services needed. Three flex zones were identified; Oldsmar/Countryside/Tampa, Dunedin/Palm Harbor, and East Lake, which all began service on December 10, 2012. While the Oldsmar/Countryside/Tampa and Dunedin zones have become sustainable, the East Lake zone suffered lower than projected ridership and as a result, was eliminated on October 11, 2015.

In October of 2016, changes were made to both the Oldsmar/Tampa and the Dunedin/Palm Harbor Connector Routes to serve areas with higher demand. In February of 2017, the Dunedin/Palm Harbor Connector was split into two routes at Westfield Countryside. The Dunedin/Palm Harbor Connector continued to serve the Palm Harbor and Dunedin communities while the Safety Harbor Connector provides service to the Safety Harbor community.

In October of 2019, PSTA discontinued providing flex service due to low usage of flex deviations & vans chronically running behind schedule due to such deviations – despite efforts to build extra time into the printed schedules. The three existing flex routes were then converted into standard fixed routes.


Fleet

Photo Credit: Carlos A.
The original North County Connector cutaway van fleet comprised of 2012-series Ford Econoline 450 vehicles, #’s 1225 through 1232. Photo credit: Carlos A.

When the North County Connector first launched in 2012, a fleet of eight Ford Econoline cutaway vans were ordered. However, they were phased out in 2015 apparently due to manufacturer defects. Overall, these vans only saw a maximum of about two years in service before being pulled out of service. As a result, two 2002-series and five 2005-series 30-foot Gillig Low Floor transit buses have been retained as a stopgap measure until new cutaway vans could be ordered.

IMG_20151017_094544
#2530 on layover at Shoppes at Boot Ranch. This is one of five 2005-series 30-foot Gilligs that were retained for North County Connector service until new cutaway vans could be ordered.

At the beginning of 2018, PSTA ordered eight new 2018-series Freightliner Defender cutaway vans, #’s 1801 through 1808. These were delivered in November, 2018 and were placed into service in January, 2019. The introduction of these vans have effectively sidelined the 30-foot Gilligs, though the latter are being retained for now used as spares if needed.


Flex Zones

The North County Connector comprised of the following zones.

  • East Lake (Route 811):
    • Service from Shoppes at Boot Ranch to Tarpon Mall.
    • Eliminated in 2015 due to low usage.
  • Tampa/Oldsmar Connector (Route 812):
    • Service from Westfield Countryside Mall to the HART Northwest Transfer Center in Town-N-Country via Shoppes at Boot Ranch and Oldsmar (via State Rd 580).
  • Dunedin/Palm Harbor Connector (Route 813):
    • Service from Westfield Countryside Mall to the Palm Harbor WalMart (Alderman Rd and US Hwy 19) via downtown Dunedin (State Rd 580).
  • Safety Harbor Connector (Route 814):
    • Service from Westfield Countryside Mall to Phillippe Park via McMullen Booth Rd and downtown Safety Harbor (Main St).