Manatee County buses are becoming more efficient.
Since the county implemented the first phase of the fixed route service optimization plan last November, there has been a 10 percent system-wide on-time performance improvement, according to Bill Steele, the county’s transit division manager.
“Ridership productivity on several routes improved significantly and for the fixed route services in the Palmetto/Ellenton area as well,” he said.
As a way to optimize service and improve frequency for the county’s core network of bus routes, Manatee County Area Transit route modifications went into effect last Nov. 12.
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Route 3, which services Manatee Avenue/State Road 64, was one of the routes that now arrives more frequently as it operates with 30-minute frequency instead of the previous 60 minutes.
“Route 3 ridership improved by 15 percent in January 2017 with the recently improved service frequency,” Steele said. “Ridership growth for Route 3 and the Palmetto-area routes is expected as passengers become more accustomed to these recent service modifications.”
The service frequency of Route 6, which serves the Cortez Road corridor, is also expected to increase to 30-minute frequency instead of the current 60 minutes. But the funding to make this a reality has not been determined.
According to a county document, the county made a request to Florida Department of Transportation to repurpose Transit Service Development Funding from Lakewood Ranch, since the county eliminated bus service to Lakewood Ranch last November, but FDOT denied this request.
“That funding remains in the purview of FDOT since there was never an executed Joint Participation Agreement,” Steele said.
A request for Mobility Enhancement Grant funding to increase the route frequency was not approved.
“Staff work includes a business case that the Board of County Commissioners will review and consider as part of the FY 18 and FY 19 budget process,” Steele said, adding that additional operational staffing is required for the Cortez Road corridor. “So that request must be reviewed/considered by the Board (as well other County Department requests), through the budget review and approval process.”
Next month, there will be additional modifications made to bus service on Longboat Key. On April 15, the Longboat Key Shuttle, which is a new reservation-based on-demand service, will be rolled out.
“The service is tailored to meet the needs of local residents and visitors, and scaled to promote service efficiency,” according to a county document. “The LBK Shuttle will also connect passengers with adjacent bus routes, including the SCAT bus service at Bay Isles Parkway and MCAT Route 6 and the Anna Maria Island Trolley service at Coquina Beach.”
It will cost $1.50 for a one-way , and reservations can be made at 941-748-2317.
“Phase 2 is focused on right-sizing transit service for Longboat Key, and using the remaining service hours to enhance service frequency for the Cortez Road route corridor,” according to the county document.