BRADENTON BEACH -- A new initiative by a Bradenton Beach-based business will offer new ways to get around Anna Maria Island.
Adventure Away of Bradenton and the Gulf Islands plans to roll out alternative transportation services Feb. 15 through an initiative called Ride AMI.
"Ride AMI is really multiple services and it's hopefully the start of efforts related to alternative transportations," said Walter Loos, a managing partner of Ride AMI. "We're talking about entertainment and park-and-ride services, but the important part is it will interconnect with other alternative transportation modes like bike share. We're in the process of implementing bike share racks over in our Cortez location, where people can come park at our location and ride across the bridge in bikes."
The business also is launching a water taxi service, the first leg of which is going to take passengers from the waters off Cortez to the Historic Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach.
"This newly developed service is aimed at connecting the other alternative transportation island options like the Island Beach Monkeys and the Anna Maria Island Trolley," according to press release from Adventure Away. "Many of the businesses within the Bridge Street and Bradenton Beach Business District have been looking at creative solutions to address the mounting parking and transportation challenges. Ride AMI's planned shuttle service is part of an ongoing effort to spearhead the development of an interconnected multi-modal parking and transportation plan for Anna Maria Island."
To directly support local businesses within the district, Ride AMI will operate scheduled routes between the business district and designated parking, according to the release. The service, called the Bridge Street Hospitality and Entertainment Shuttle, will run daily from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., serving those in the district. There is a $2 suggested gratuity for the park and ride component of the shuttle services.
Sherman Baldwin, a captain for Bradenton Beach-based tour company Paradise Boat Tours, is one of several partners. He also sits on the Board of Directors for Bridge Street Merchants Association, a local nonprofit organization aimed at promoting Historic Bridge Street, the Bradenton Beach community, and its businesses.
"We as a merchants association, but also as individual proprietors of businesses, are always dealing with the parking difficulties that we face island-wide," Baldwin said. "It's not just Bradenton Beach, but the whole entire island is really facing these difficulties."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.