Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority’s HARTPlus paratransit vans provide door-to-door transportation service to qualified riders.

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) is the main provider of public transportation in Hillsborough County, but commuters willing to join up with a group of their colleagues for a ride can do so through the vanpool service managed by the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA). The service is available to commuters in Hillsborough, Pasco, Citrus, Hernando and Manatee counties as well as Pinellas County.

The benefits touted include less wear on personal cars and overall lower commuting costs. The service fee per commuter depends on the distance and number of riders in the group. It’s part of an effort to develop a system that can respond to on-demand transportation needs as well as operate the traditional fixed routes that commuters have known.

This has been especially helpful for people with disabilities who have access to the HARTPlus paratransit program, which provides door-to-door service via specially equipped vans that can easily accommodate wheelchairs and other medical equipment. There is a two-step eligibility verification process, including documentation of a disability and an interview. Cash fare is $4 for a one-way trip.

In the SouthShore area, HARTFlex provides on-demand, door-to-door pickup service to riders in an area roughly defined as extending from Ruskin to Wimauma and just north of 19th Avenue to south of Sun City Center Boulevard. HARTFlex operates Monday through Friday from 6 a.m.-7:30 p.m. on a route between HCC SouthShore on 24th Street and La Estancia Apartments on Guadalupe Boulevard. Passengers can also board at designated HARTFlex stops along the route. On-demand rides to or from a non-HARTFlex route pickup stop must be reserved from three days to two hours in advance with a fare of $1.

According to Justin Willits, HART’s director of planning and scheduling, on-demand transportation is being examined for growth opportunities while balancing fixed-route needs.

“We’ll define mobility on demand, where those zones are, where we think and know we can afford to put a few of those zones out there, and then some of those zones that currently could not be funded based on our existing service levels, and we’ll work out what that mix is,” Willits told a recent meeting of HART’s strategic planning and external relations committee.

To find out more about HART’s van on-demand services, visit https://gohart.org/ and https://psta.net/ to learn more about the vanpool commuter program.

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Brad Stager
Avian-named publications have figured prominently in Brad Stager's career. Besides writing for the Osprey Observer, he started out writing sports articles for the Seahawk, a weekly newspaper serving the military community aboard Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. That position followed a career documenting life in the Fleet, from the Straits of Magellan to the North Arabian Sea, as a Navy Photographer's Mate. Since settling in the Tampa Bay area, Brad has produced a variety of written, visual and aural content for clients ranging from corporate broadcasters to small businesses.