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SRQ-to-downtown shuttle service to begin before year's end

Sarasota County sets the fares for a new trolley route that will serve the airport and five stops downtown.

Sarasota County's planned shuttle service between downtown and SRQ would utilize trolley-like vehicles every 20 to 30 minutes.
Sarasota County's planned shuttle service between downtown and SRQ would utilize trolley-like vehicles every 20 to 30 minutes.
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A new trolley service will connect downtown Sarasota with the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport by the end of the year. 

On Tuesday, the Sarasota County Commission approved a staff recommendation for fares for a service to routes between the airport and five stops in downtown Sarasota. The primary intent of the service is to provide convenient transportation for visitors to and from the rapidly growing airport.

Rick Piccolo, the president and CEO of the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority, recently told Sarasota city commissioners that the airport has grown from 1.3 million passengers per year in 2019 to a projected 4.3 million by the end of 2023. Currently under construction is a new terminal with five ground-based boarding gates, all of them leased to Allegiant Airlines. 

Sarasota County’s Breeze Transit has purchased and is awaiting delivery of two trolleys for the service. Both will be equipped with luggage racks. Stops for the service will include:

  • Boulevard of the Arts at Quay Commons
  • Ritz Carlton Drive at First Street and Watergate Drive
  • Second Street at U.S. 41
  • Ringling Boulevard at Palm Avenue
  • Boulevard of the Arts between U.S. 41 and Cocoanut Avenue

Stops along the route will be served every 20 to 30 minutes.

The shuttle fare is set at $2 per standard trip and $1 per trip for riders who are ages 65 and older, who receive Medicare or have a disability beginning March 1, 2024. The half-price option is required to be offered to those groups by recipients of Federal Transit Administration grants.

In preparation for the new service, fare cards with electronic magnetic data strips that are read in the transit fare boxes are being procured. 

Because of the lead time to acquire and program the cards, staff proposed implementing the new fare amount on March 1, 2024. Until then, the standard fixed-route bus prices of $1.50 for regular trips and 75 cents for those qualifying for half-fare will be applied. 

Because this route is designed to serve tourists, outreach has been targeted at organizations and businesses serving visitors. 

Staff held conversations with hotels located along the route, soliciting feedback on the service characteristics and route stop locations. Staff also had dialogue with Visit Sarasota County and SRQ leadership regarding the service and route.



Andrew Warfield

Andrew Warfield is the Sarasota Observer city reporter. He is a four-decade veteran of print media. A Florida native, he has spent most of his career in the Carolinas as a writer and editor, nearly a decade as co-founder and editor of a community newspaper in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

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