MCAT service without fares coming for Ringling, New College students, faculty

  • Jul 13, 2016

MANATEE COUNTY, FL (July 13, 2016) – Later this summer students, faculty and staff from both Ringling College of Art & Design and New College of Florida will be able to ride Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) and Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) buses for free when they present a currently valid college identification card.

 Beginning Aug. 1, the Universal Pass or “U-Pass” Program will allow public transit access for both employment and educational opportunities at the two colleges, promotes economic development, expedites the transit boarding process and furthers ridership on public transportation services according to MCAT Manager Bill Steele. 


Over the past several months, Ringling College of Art & Design, New College of Florida, Manatee and Sarasota County officials worked to establish agreements that allow each educational institution to pay an annual, pre-paid amount rather than collecting individual fares when passengers board the bus. 


“The U-Pass Program agreements really show the continuing effort of public transit agencies to build strong community partnerships to benefit residents and visitors of both Manatee and Sarasota,” Steele said. “Strong collaborative efforts between MCAT and SCAT benefit not only the individual transit agencies, but the Sarasota-Manatee region as well.” 


The two counties developed the area’s first U-Pass agreement with the University of South Florida (USF) Sarasota-Manatee and rolled out the program with the start of spring semester classes in January, 2016. 


As MCAT and SCAT serve three major educational facilities with U-Pass, passengers in both counties will benefit from the jointly operated transit services along U.S. Highway 41. Considering the existing Sarasota-Manatee inter-county transit services in combination with the new Skyway ConneXion transit service offered by MCAT for travel between Manatee and Pinellas County, the larger Tampa Bay region is now poised to accrue significant economic development and regional travel benefits, benefitting both area residents and visitors, Steele said.  


For more information on the U-Pass Program, contact MCAT at (941) 747-8621. For more information on Manatee County Area Transit or to view routes, visit  


For more information on Manatee County Government, visit online at or call (941) 748-4501. You can also follow us on Facebook and on Twitter, @ManateeGov.