On Jan. 29, Sarasota County Transit to begin serving all of Longboat Key

County Commission approved plans on Jan. 10

Image courtesy Sarasota County

On Monday, Jan. 29, residents, commuters and visitors in the Manatee County portion of Longboat Key will have a new transportation option: Sarasota County’s Breeze OnDemand service, Sarasota County staff has announced.

For the past two-and-a-half years, public transportation on Longboat Key has been split, a county news release points out. In the northern portion, service has been provided by the Longboat Key Shuttle, for which individuals could call ahead. That shuttle is operated by Manatee County Area Transit.

However, in the southern portion of Longboat, service has been provided by Sarasota County’s Breeze OnDemand, the release notes. “Customers needing to travel across the dividing line were required to transfer services.”

Leaders of the Town of Longboat Key have been “advocating for one service that would allow seamless travel through the county line,” the release continues.

Earlier this month, the Manatee and Sarasota County commissions signed an agreement to implement Breeze OnDemand throughout the island, the release adds.

As part of their regular meeting on Jan. 10, the Sarasota County commissioners unanimously approved the service change. The item was listed on the board’s Consent Agenda of routine business matters that day.

A memo included in the Jan. 10 agenda packet explained, “Breeze OnDemand is managed by Sarasota County Transit and operated by a vendor through a contract. Sarasota County Transit staff has developed a costing model for extending Breeze OnDemand that is based on the Longboat/Lido/Downtown Sarasota Zone, including the amount paid to the vendor for the service plus administrative costs to manage the service, in relation to the number of trips completed in the zone, which establishes a per trip cost. As the contract with the vendor and operator of the service is based on hours, this methodology was determined to be the best way to simplify the service costs and attribute future trips that are performed on behalf of Manatee County.”

The funding agreement included in the agenda packet said that the Transit staff had identified “an initial contract cost of $30.67 per trip for those trips that begin or end in the Manatee County portion of the Town within the expanded Longboat/Lido/Downtown Sarasota OnDemand Zone,” which will reach MCAT’s Coquina Beach Transfer Point.

Additionally on Jan. 10, the Sarasota County commissioners unanimously approved a resolution that amended the county’s budget for this fiscal year to include a total of $833,813 for the new Transit service.

The Jan. 10 staff memo did note, “The Funding Agreement also incorporates the provision of performance metrics to Manatee County and an annual update of the cost per trip. The Funding Agreement is set to automatically renew each year for five years unless terminated per one of the conditions of the agreement and can be extended by action from both [county commissions].”

The funding contract also specifies the hours of service for Breeze OnDemand on Longboat:

  • Monday through Saturday from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • The following holidays have revised service hours — New Year’s Day, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Thanksgiving Day, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Christmas Eve, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and New Year’s Eve, 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

Further, the Jan. 10 memo pointed out that Sarasota County staff will “prepare public information and marketing materials for the service.”

This is the new Breeze OnDemand route map for Longboat Key. Image courtesy Sarasota County

“Customers will book trips using the Breeze OnDemand app,” by visiting the Sarasota County’s website or by calling the customer service phone number identified by Sarasota County,” the contract further pointed out.

The objective of the service, the memo says, is to improve mobility and reduce traffic congestion.

“This is an excellent example of governmental cooperation between the counties and the Town of Longboat Key,” Jane Grogg, director of Sarasota County Breeze Transit, said in the release.Together we spent many hours evaluating service options, funding mechanisms, reporting requirements and more. Ultimately, we agreed that Breeze OnDemand will meet the needs of all parties. We’re honored to be part of the solution,” she added.

Since its launch in June 2021, the OnDemand service has provided more than 680,000 rides in Sarasota County, the release points out. “It’s a zone-based, curb-to-curb ridesharing service charging only $2 per passenger.”

The hours of operation are Monday through Saturday from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. “The Breeze OnDemand system connects to traditional Breeze routes, creating a countywide mobility network,” the release adds.

“Get started with Breeze OnDemand by downloading the Breeze OnDemand mobile app or visiting breezetransit.net/breezeondemand,” the release adds.

To book rides over the phone, call 941-300-1553.

For more information on Sarasota County’s transit services, visit scgov.net/breeze.