MANATEE -- A new transit service study recommends a Lakewood Ranch bus route along State Road 64 through Lakewood Ranch and then to the Mall at University Town Center at Interstate 75 and University Parkway.
The bus route would connect to Manatee County Area Transit's Route 3 west of I-75, run south on Lakewood Ranch Boulevard through the Main Street area, past State College of Florida's east campus, San Marco Plaza and on toward the mall, according to the study.
There's no money for the route to start immediately, so it would begin in early 2017, said Richard Dreyer, consultant for Tindale-Oliver & Associates Inc. of Bartow, who presented the study Monday at a meeting of the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization.
The MPO commissioned the $59,000 study and paid for it with federal funds, he said.
Buses on the Lakewood Ranch route would operate from 6:15 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. weekdays, he said.
"Our recommendation is it should connect to as many existing routes of MCAT as possible," said Dreyer after the meeting. "They will improve service on S.R. 64 and have more connections there as well as have a new route on State Road 70."
As the study progressed, it became clear MCAT's plans to develop a better route along State Road 70 was doubly important, Dreyer said. That bus service would run all the way from Cortez on the west to Lorraine Road on the east, he said.
It is also important for new or revamped routes to interconnect smoothly with the neighboring Sarasota County Area Transit, he said.
"The bus route is an exciting new opportunity for students who otherwise would not have transportation to SCF-Lakewood Ranch," emailed State College of Florida public information coordinator Jessica Klipa. "...We look forward to welcoming new students to SCF Lakewood Ranch as the bus route begins and expands in upcoming years."
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twittercface fontname="Roman" naxe="0" iaxis="0"/>