Russell Matthes says he hopes trolley service comes to Siesta Key in a few months.
Although it’s still unclear whether the service will actually become a reality, Sarasota County Area Transit is soliciting bids for a potential operator.
Matthes, who made the announcement Tuesday during a meeting of the Siesta Key Village Association, said service could begin by Dec. 1. However, county projections show the service beginning in February.
Early proposals for a trolley service on Siesta Key included two routes that extended onto the mainland at the north and south bridges, with a tram serving as a connector between the two. However, according to Matthes’ presentation, the latest plans call for the trolley to remain on the island, at least in its early stages.
Matthes, an SKVA board member, said his discussions with the county suggested they would be moving forward with three trolleys operating on one route. That route would run on a loop from Turtle Beach to the Crescent Beach area, then up to Siesta Beach and Siesta Key Village before coming back to Turtle Beach.
SCAT spokeswoman Kendra Keiderling was unable to comment on the ongoing discussions because the bid for the project is still outstanding.
Even at this early stage, village business owners are excited at the prospect of an open-air transportation option for the Key. It’s a long-standing topic of discussion in the area. SKVA members have been considering the idea for nearly 15 years.
Matthes said increased traffic on the island and continued development both on and off the Key make the trolley an appealing solution to mitigate congestion-related issues. Even before plans have formally been approved, Matthes is encouraging businesses to reach out to condo associations to encourage ridership.
“This is great news if we can get ridership out here,” Matthes said.
Long term, Matthes said he hopes service on and off of the Key is added to the trolley service. For now, though, he’s focusing on ensuring any new transportation option attracts enough riders in the short term to make expansion a possibility.
“We really need to push this program,” Matthes said. “The more ridership we get, the more
This article has been amended to show the county projections for the service.