Manatee and Sarasota Counties
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
In July 2011, Manatee County Area Transit and Sarasota County Area Transit unveiled the R-Card, which would allow riders in each county to connect to each system, without a transfer fee. The R-Card is the first such linking of county transit systems in the Tampa Bay area and is a huge step forward for transit collaboration. Officials with MCAT and SCAT anticipate riders along the busy U.S. 41 corridor to be the R-Card's primary users. For more information on the R-Card, visit MCAT or SCAT.
Sarasota and Manatee Counties recently combined their MPO's to create a single transportation planning body. Below is a map of the transit needs the MPO has identified for these communities through 2035. Click the map to open a larger image in a new window. View the full draft 2035 Long range Transportation Plan by clicking here.
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
The biggest project in this area is Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT. The system, which will eventually run through both counties, is moving forward in Sarasota. BRT systems are a relatively new means of urban mass transportation. The system typically offers premium services on existing roadways or dedicated rights of way. Service frequency ranges from eight to 20 minutes and the distance between stops ranges from one-quarter mile to two miles. A true BRT system uses dedicated lanes (or its own right of way) so the buses can bypass traffic congestion. A BRT system typically moves between stations designed so a person has not only a shorter but a more comfortable wait compared with an ordinary bus stop. Finally, the BRT system uses vehicles that are attractive and offer a more comfortable ride, with fewer stops and more direct routes.
The proposed route would link the Sarasota campus of the University of South Florida and the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport on the north end with Westfield Sarasota Square Mall on the south end. Implementing the BRT would serve employment needs along this corridor, provide economic development opportunities, and reduce traffic along one of the most heavily congested corridors in Sarasota County.
The map below is the recommended alignment that was identified by SCAT based on extensive technical analysis and public input. This line, referred to as the Locally Preferred Alternative (or LPA), is shown in black on the map below. The black and white striped segments represent areas where the system will operate in a dedicated lane. Click the image to enlarge.
Based on the original project schedule (shown below), the BRT system would have been implemented by 2012. However, the project was submitted to the FTA in 2010, two years later than originally scheduled. This will have a significant impact on the implementation timeline putting the project at least two years behind.
Extension to Manatee
This year, TBARTA will begin a study on extending the Sarasota BRT system north into Manatee County. Information on that study will be available on TBARTA's website, and we will update this page as we learn more.
Sarasota County provides information about the Sarasota BRT project. http://www.scgov.net/brt/default.asp
The Sarasota-Manatee MPO has numerous resources available related to transit planning in both counties. http://www.mympo.org/