It's no secret that traffic and parking have been difficult in Sarasota of late.
City officials are hoping a free trolley service will help alleviate those problems for locals and visitors looking to easily transit downtown Sarasota and Lido Key.
The Bay Runner trolley service is set to debut in Sarasota, Wednesday, March 2.
The initial offering will have trolleys carrying up to 28 passengers each through 12 eastbound and westbound stops, with end points at Main Street at School Avenue and Ted Sperling Park at South Lido Beach.
They'll be running from 8 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week including holidays. Trolleys will run every 20 minutes during peak hours and 30 minutes during off-peak hours.
The trolleys have wheelchair lifts and storage for bicycles for those who wish to bike to their next location.
The city approved the initiative with a three-year, $4.4 million contract last November. The service is funded by $1.59 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation as well as the city’s economic development fund.
Washington, D.C.-based CPR Medical Transport will manage the trolley service, much as it does the Siesta Key Breeze trolley.
City officials took Downtown Improvement District members, St. Armands Business Improvement District members and press on an early tour of the trolley's route on Feb. 25. City commissioner Hagen Brody and Parking management division general manager Mark Lyons led one of the trolley rides and spoke to the initiative.
There's no air conditioning on the trolley (as you'd expect), but the speed and open air makes it a pleasant riding experience when you're going over the John Ringling bridge. Trips
An additional stop is planned for the Golden Gate Point area upon completion of the 41-Gulfstream roundabout. A Bay Runner app for tracking the next trolley in real time is planned to be released soon as well.