Sarasota Democrats Criticize County Commission Transit Fare Hike As A Misplaced Priority

The Sarasota County Democratic Party (SCDP) condemned the Sarasota County Commission today for its recently approved counterproductive 20 per cent transit fare hike for Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT).

“Instead of dealing with the urgent and worsening red tide crisis fouling our coastlines and beaches, the Republican commission has decided, in one of its first acts since the Nov. 8 election, to raise transit fares on the working poor and others who are dependent on SCAT for their transportation,” said SCDP Chair JoAnne DeVries.

Effective Dec. 1, bus users in Sarasota must pay $1.50 per one-way ride, up from $1.25. In addition, and instead of incentivizing daily transit use, SCAT will penalize frequent riders by phasing out the half-price monthly pass.

“As if the lack of affordable housing wasn’t enough, the county commissioners are again hurting working families by making commutes even more expensive,” Devries added. “Scores of counties and transit authorities nationwide are lowering fares, to help working people, counter inflation, and act against climate change. Talk about a misplaced priority!

“The farebox increase is yet another sign of the decades-long neglect this Republican-controlled county commission has given to transit, and the disrespect it has for county residents who cannot, or do not want, to drive. The commission’s neglect is forcing us into an increasingly costly dependency on our cars while ignoring the very real environmental challenge posed by red tide.”

Transit systems in Portland, New York City and California have recently taken steps to reduce fares for frequent commuters and those who use contactless payment. Denver, Kansas City, Salt Lake City, Richmond and Alexandria, Va., have even temporarily made transit use free, to incentivize drivers to leave their cars at home and boost transit ridership.

Current bus service in Sarasota — with infrequent service, a time-consuming central transfer station system, lack of service for people working early or late shifts and weekends, and low reliability due to frequent delays and buses failing to stop for riders — is far from user-friendly.

“Instead of raising fares, the commissioners should figure out how to make transit user-friendly and do something that will help alleviate the climate crisis,” DeVries added.