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Longboat Key Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018 9 months ago

Longboat SCAT route cut from 2019 county budget

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Sarasota County Commissioners cut Route 18, which serves Longboat Key, from its Fiscal 2019 budget, saving the county nearly $140,000 annually.
by: Bret Hauff and Cassidy Alexander

The Sarasota County Area Transit bus route that serves Longboat Key will be eliminated starting in fiscal year 2019, pending final approval after a public hearing.

The change comes as part $5.4 million in cuts to recurring expenses, approved Jan. 31 by the County Commission. Fiscal year 2019 starts Oct. 1.

Town Manager Tom Harmer, in an Feb. 1 email to Longboat Key commissioners, wrote, “there have not been any discussions between the Town and the County in advance of the [budget] workshop.”

Route 18 extends between the north end of Longboat Key and downtown Sarasota and makes five stops: at First Street and Lemon Avenue, St. Armands Circle, Mote Marine Laboratory, Harbourside Drive and Bay Isles Parkway.

On average, 62 people ride the bus daily. The route makes 14 round trips a day, beginning at 6:05 a.m. and ending at 7:50 p.m.

It will take about a year for the change to go into effect, as SCAT has to conduct an Equity Analysis, which will include gathering input at public hearings and final approval from the commission.

“However, please be assured that the SCAT staff is looking at alternatives models and methods to provide service to Longboat Key in place of Route 18,” Sarasota County Director of Community & Intergovernmental Relations Rob Lewis wrote Feb. 1 in an email to Harmer.

The move will save the county nearly $140,000 annually.

The Longboat bus route is one of three being cut, including one that runs between the airport and North Port, and one that serves Venice and South Venice. Each averages about 60 daily riders.

The Saturday schedule will also be reduced to the same operating schedule as Sundays, which varies by route.

 

I’m a Longboat Key Staff Reporter. I write stories about how decisions and events affect the island, its leaders and its citizens. I received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Emerson College, where I wrote for The Boston Globe. Reach me at 941-366-3468 ext. 333.

See All Articles by Bret

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