Sarasota County Area Transit is launching its new campaign this weekend, complete with island-themed buses and a new mobile website.
Starting Saturday, residents can scan a QR code to access the SCAT mobile website; the QR codes are located on about 400 signs spread out across the transit routes. The QR code will bring up the site, where users can track buses en route, view schedules and find the nearest bus stops.
In addition, SCAT will begin operating two new routes Saturday. A second route will be added on Siesta Key, and a new express route will come to University Parkway. The fare for each is $1.25.
The new Siesta route, 10, will begin at Westfield Southgate Mall and travel through the current route (Route 11) yet it will extend to the southern end of Siesta, stopping at Turtle Beach before double backing to end at the Sarasota Pavilion. With this second route, there will be a bus stopping at Siesta Key every 20 minutes instead of every hour, said Kendra Keiderling, SCAT public outreach and marketing coordinator.
Route 11, which saw a total of 124,866 passengers last year, is considered one of SCAT’s well-performing routes, said Sarah Blanchard, SCAT’s planning manager, in an email. That number means an average of 15 riders an hour. The new route’s goal is to attract at least seven passengers an hour during the peak riding season (December through March) Blanchard said. SCAT hopes the new route will also help alleviate overcrowding of available parking in Siesta Village and on the beach.
The bus route will begin from Westfield Southgate Mall at approximately 9:12 a.m. and end at 10:07 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
The new route on University Parkway, 30, will run from the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport to the Mall at University Town Center, Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and Lakewood Ranch Professional Parkway.
The Route 10 bus to Siesta will sport an island-themed wrap, along with six other buses on different routes. Also, SCAT is adding 19 new buses, with several decal themes — “SCAT to the airport,” “SCAT to school” and “SCAT to the beach,” for example.
In May, Sarasota County commissioners approved $3.4 million to fund the new buses, the additional Siesta route and expand services. The new University Parkway route was funded by a $1.06 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration.
SCAT’s new mobile website
The website will go live Saturday, July 12. The site features a bus stop search relative to the user’s location, bus schedules and a real-time tracker. Users will need a QR code reading app to access the website. The QR codes are already on about 400 signs along SCAT’s routes.
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