Sarasota Gathering Input on Future of Transit

Government

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY MAY 16, 2019

As Sarasota creates its first transportation master plan, officials say they need to plan for more than automobiles on the road in the future.

“The direction from our City Commission is to look at expanding the range of transportation options beyond the car,” says Colleen McGue, chief transportation planner for the city.

That could mean new accommodations for ride share services like Uber, wider bike lanes on major traffic corridors, or even electric scooters that people can ride around downtown and toss to the curb when they reach their destination.

But officials won’t guess just yet what the top priorities will be. Rather, they want to hear first from citizens. The city last week launched its Sarasota In Motion survey, which individuals can fill out at SarasotaInMotion.com. Citizens can also attend visioning workshops on June 4 at the Bayfront Community Center at 11am or at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex at 4pm. The event hopes to draw voices to chime in before snowbirds head up north and vacationers skip town for the summer.

“We are really in listening mode,” McGue says. Whatever the future may hold in the automotive and technology world, it’s important to Sarasota leaders that options the public desires become priorities here.

Could curb space be set aside specifically so Lyft drivers can drop off guests at popular destinations? Will there be autonomous vehicles taking commuters to work on Sarasota roads in 10 years? It’s all a possibility.

But officials also want to look at the most efficient use of transit options available today. That includes making sure the highest demand for bus transportation gets met. 

McGue says the city hasn’t given up on micro transit. The city for a time subsidized Gotcha service to run for free in town, but the service now charges $3 to customers.

Some advances are already in motion at City Hall, which has a request for proposals regarding bike share services, and McGue says the city is gauging interest in vendors regarding scooter services.

The city also will host the 2019 Florida Commuter Transportation Summit later this month, when Sarasota officials plan to speak with attendees about local demands for transit. “It’s exciting that it’s going to be here,” McGue says.

A number of large employers from the region will be in attendance, McGue says, as will officials from the Florida Department of Transportation and officials in the field from around the state of Florida. 

That event takes place at the Lido Beach Resort on May 29.

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