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Bus links downtown, Carillon

(ran East, South, West editions)

A new bus route from downtown to the Carillon office park in north St. Petersburg should cut riding time for commuting workers, say county transit agency officials.

Route No. 97 began running Monday from Williams Park. It makes four morning trips to Carillon and four afternoon return trips Monday through Friday.

The new route was part of Route 52. In essence, it was pulled out to become a separate run, said Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority marketing director Janet Recca.

The change should mean quicker trips to Carillon, Recca said. "This will free up some seats for sure," she said.

Route 97 will leave Williams Park at 5:15 a.m., 6 a.m., 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. It leaves Carillon for downtown at 3:20 p.m., 3:50 p.m., 4:50 p.m. and 5:20 p.m. The morning trips take an hour; the afternoon runs an hour and 10 minutes, according to PSTA schedules.

Commuters who formerly rode Route 52 to Carillon also can take the new route 97 to Central Plaza, the Shoppes at Park Place, PSTA's new headquarters at 34th Street N and Scherer Drive, and the Pinellas County Criminal Justice Center on 49th Street N.

Route 52 will continue to run between Williams Park and downtown Clearwater. It will also serve Central Plaza, ParkSide Mall, the criminal justice center and the PSTA complex.

Meanwhile, demolition of Crossroads Mall in Largo means new passenger on-and-off points for routes 11, 19, 52, 79 and 98.

Buses previously stopped at a shelter on mall property but will now stop at shelters on the U.S. Highway 19 frontage roads, both northbound and southbound.

"We'll be back on the property when (the mall) is rebuilt," Recca said.