Flexing for You
Page was last updated on 12/16/2018
The PSTA North County Connector 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 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 are made at specific points within the flex zone.
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 continues to serve the Palm Harbor and Dunedin communities while the Safety Harbor Connector provides service to the Safety Harbor community.
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.
As of December, 2018, eight new 2018-series Freightliner Defender cutaway vans, #’s 1801 through 1808, have been ordered and delivered to PSTA. The vans are currently being prepped for service and could replace the aging Gillig buses during the month of February, 2019. I will have photos of these vans once they’ve entered service.
The North County Connector currently comprises of three zones
- 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).
- All above routes operate Monday through Saturday on an hourly basis. Please visit psta.net for current schedules.
Fares for the North County Connector are the same as the rest of the PSTA bus system. There are no special fare categories for the service.
Reservations & Walk-Up Service
Walk-Up Service is available by walking up to any marked PSTA bus stop and waiting for the van or bus to arrive. Because seating is limited on the vans, it is strongly recommended to call the PSTA InfoLine at 727-540-1900 (option 2) to be guaranteed a seat. The Connector Reservation Line is open between 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m, Monday through Friday, and between 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m on Saturdays, 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.
Take your bike with you
All PSTA Connector vans are equipped with bike racks (maximum of two bikes per bus), 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 PSTA at 727-540-1900. Step-by-step instructions are also available at PSTA.net.