Counties discuss mutual concerns: Dual-county, single-fare bus pass unveiled at meeting

LAKEWOOD RANCH — In July, Manatee and Sarasota bus riders will be able to commute between the two counties on one bus pass.

The single fare pass, or Green Pass, will allow riders to get on a bus in Manatee County and continue their trip into Sarasota County without having to purchase a transfer, Manatee County Area Transit Manager Ralf Heseler explained Tuesday during a joint meeting between the Sarasota County Commission and the Manatee County Commission.

The two governing bodies met at the Gold Coast Eagle Distributing company, the area Anheuser Busch distributor.

Heseler said the Green Pass will cost $60 and will be good for a month.

Heseler’s counterpart, Anthony Beckford, highlighted two other areas where the two counties are cooperating: inter-county routes such as Route 99, which takes riders from downtown Sarasota to north of Palmetto and bus rapid transit systems, which will create a commuter system among developing areas. The systems will be compatible with a broader commuter system that the Tampa Bay Area Rapid Transit Authority is planning.

Commissioners also were given an update on the Intelligent Transportation System, an automated traffic management operation intended to reduce congestion by using cameras to monitor traffic flow through intersections.

In Manatee County, Phase I will include 70 miles of fiber optic lines, about 40 cameras and cost $9.8 million.

This phase was expected to be completed by June 2011, said Sage Kamiya, Manatee County traffic engineering division manager.

Phase II will cost about $5.5 million and will include another 44 miles of fiber optic lines and 23 more cameras. Completion is expected to be in the fall of 2011.

The cost for all phases of Sarasota County’s portion of the system will be about $15 million.

The commissioners also heard from U.S. Congressman Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, on federal issues that affect both counties.

He told commissioners about his helicopter tour to the site of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and spoke of his efforts to get help for small businesses.