At Payne Park today, booths and busses occupied the parking lot as Sarasota County Area Transit held its second-annual Try Transit Day in an attempt to promote the use of alternative forms of transportation.
The event was held as Sarasota’s tourist season is winding down. Although the timing is coincidental — Florida Department of Transportation districts use April, Earth Month, to hold public outreach events — it’s well suited for some of the organization’s goals. SCAT Manager Glama Carter doesn’t believe the county’s population is reluctant to use public transit, but she does think SCAT has to do more to attract year-round residents to keep its bus ridership stable.
“I think our population is very seasonal, very heavy during the winter but not in the summer,” Carter said. “What we're trying to do is create that constant utilization — not just throughout the winter months, but in the summer as well.”
SCAT is launching two new routes beginning July 12. A Siesta Key trolley will run roughly the length of the key along preexisting bus routes, offering service every 20 minutes. The other will travel along University Parkway from Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport to Lakewood Ranch, stopping at the forthcoming Mall at University Town Center.
To fund the University route, the county cut the number and frequency of trips along other routes, including ending service after 10 p.m. As SCAT faces funding issues, Carter indicated that would continue to be a strategy to offer an increased level of service to some riders.
“What we are trying to do now is reallocating resources,” Carter said. “Our goal is to evaluate those routes that have low impact, and reallocating them to the routes that should have more frequency and deserve the increase in service.”
Contact David Conway at email@example.com.
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