July 8, 2012

Transit to Green Space (to Save Our Seabirds), Sarasota

The Manatee-Sarasota Sierra Club hosted an outing today, but we didn't climb around mangroves, paddle down a spring-fed river, or hike underneath lush tree canopy. Instead, we hopped on a bus and traveled from downtown Sarasota to the Save Our Seabirds Sanctuary. Public buses pose a less polluting way of reaching natural areas than driving alone. And this holds true in Sarasota.

Before touring Save Our Seabirds, we heard more about public transit initiatives at the local level. Britten Cleveland opened the discussion with the disturbing news that opponents of mass transit have really started to dictate the debate with an organized campaign, both nationally and locally. As counterpoint, Timothy Martin, from St. Petersburg, shared great news of grassroots organizing by Awake Pinellas to get folks to attend meetings in support of light rail, rapid bus transit, better bus options, and more bike lanes. They mobilized 100 people to ride the bus over to one such meeting. Ann Mesnikoff joined us from Washington D.C. to share her perspectives on the it-could-have-been-worse Transportation Bill that recently passed Congress. She also let us know about the Washington D.C. bike-share and car-share programs. Johannes Werner from the Sarasota-Manatee Transit Group spoke about small changes that could dramatically improve the bus-riding experience, such as increasing frequency and decreasing transfer times along key routes. For some, this was their first time on a Sarasota bus. SCAT (Sarasota County Area Transit) received a thumbs up for this ride.

Without so much as a prompt from me, Ann Mesnikoff pointed out that money-in-politics was a contributing factor to the disappointment of the 2012 Transportation Bill. Will turning out large crowds supportive of mass transit at local meetings help matters? These folks think so!

More Info:
Manatee-Sarasota Sierra Club,
Sarasota Manatee Transit Group,
Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT),
Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO),
Sierra Club Beyond Oil Campaign,
Awake Pinellas,
Well-Attended Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) meeting,
Save Our Seabirds


  1. An important issue. We could put a lot of people to work by improving our transit system. In addition, it would provide more opportunities for job seekers if they were able to travel greater distances to look for work without needing to spend a lot of money on gas. Congrats to these tireless champions of mass transit!

  2. My kids and I ride the Trolley on Anna Maria Island several times each week. The service is fantastic and runs pretty much every 20 minutes from 6 am to 10:30 pm. Many tourists and locals use the system on a daily basis and as a long term resident, I can see the difference it has made on the traffic on the island. Sure, sitting behind the trolley can be a pain but I often remind myself that I could be sitting behind an additional 20 -30 vehicles without the trolley service.

    This service connects to the Sarasota County system at Coquina Beach. From here, you can get to Venice using the SCAT services. You can also go out east using either the Manatee County or the Sarasota County systems. In my opinion, our area has one of the better bus transportation systems.

    I find it sad that our current state government cannot see the value of a light rail system for Florida. So KUDOS to those working to promote MASS TRANSIT for FL!