MANATEE -- Students at Manatee Technical Institute chatted with officials Wednesday at the first of five transit workshops about proposed new bus routes and fares.
"I definitely think there should be a bus running here," said Phebe Simmons, 43, of Palmetto, an MTI student studying medical coding and billing. "It's been very difficult for me. I have had car issues."
The mother of three said she is trying to be self-sufficient, but when the transmission in her van malfunctioned, she had to ask for rides with others to get to school until it was fixed.
"Imagine the issue for people who don't have a car," she said.
Simmons and other MTI students were particularly interested in maps showing a proposed extension of bus route 6 along State Road 70, providing a link between the Gulf beaches and Lakewood Ranch.
It would go right past the MTI campus at 6305 E. State Road 70.
"They're definitely in favor of the route 6 proposal," said William Steele, county
transit division manager.
Three more informal workshops are slated over the next week, and a fifth workshop is set for April 24.
Through April and May, the public may also comment via various social media networks, use comment cards on buses and fill out an online survey for the county transit agency.The transit agency's plans will be reviewed by the Manatee County Commission in June.
Other workshops are slated for 10 a.m. to noon Thursday at Holy Cross Manor, 510 26th St. W., Palmetto; 7-9 p.m. Thursday at Trailer Estates Park and Recreation District, 1903 69th Ave. W., Bradenton; and 7-8 p.m. Monday at the Rubonia Community Center, 1309 72nd St. E., Palmetto.The final workshop is set for 2-4 p.m. April 24 at the Fountain Room, 1002 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.Proposed route changes include:
Re-aligning route 16 to connect to Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, along with transfers with buses from Sarasota County Area Transit.
Extending route 6 along State Road 70 to link Gulf beaches and Lakewood Ranch.
Adding new service to connect Palmetto and Rubonia.Proposed fares would increase from $1.25 to $1.50, a day pass would increase from $3 to $4, and monthly passes would go from $30 to $40. Weekly passes would drop from $15 to $12 and a 25-cent transfer fee would be discontinued.
Officials have also proposed a new half-fare discount for active and retired military personnel.
For more information, visit mymanatee.org/mcatplan or call 941-748-4501. Comment via Twitter @ManateeGov or go to the MCAT Facebook page.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.