Manatee County Government Administrative Center Commission Chambers, First Floor 9:00 a.m. - January 26, 2016
January 26, 2016 - Regular Meeting
Agenda Item #73

1:30 P.M. TIME CERTAIN - Proposed Handy Bus Fare Modifications


Contact and/or Presenter Information

William Steele, Transit Division Manager, William.Steele@mymanatee.org, (941) 747-8621 x7440

Chad Butzow, Public Works Deputy Director, Chad.Butzow@mymanatee.org, (941) 708-7432

Action Requested

Continue the public hearing to a date to be determined and to be re-advertised.

Enabling/Regulating Authority
Florida Statutes 341; Florida Statutes 427

Background Discussion

Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) provides origin-to-destination Handy Bus (paratransit) transportation service to individuals who are eligible under the state Transportation Disadvantaged (TD) Program and as a requirement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) implementing regulations. Between FY 2014 and FY 2015, ridership levels on the MCAT Handy Bus service increased by 12 percent. When compared to FY 2013, ridership levels in FY 2015 increased over 20 percent. The demand for paratransit services in Manatee County has put a strain on the Handy Bus operation and the ability to maintain high customer satisfaction levels has become increasingly difficult. Average ridership levels have increased to over 400 daily trips and the agency has been incurring large overtime costs in order to meet demand and provide timely customer service. To satisfy ridership demand and maintain the established level of service quality, MCAT is proposing a new Handy Bus Fare structure which includes an increase to ADA and TD fares.

To inform the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) of proposed Handy Bus Fare modifications, a Work Session for review was held on September 1, 2015. Transit Division staff utilized a Power Point Presentation on the fare proposals and outlined a public outreach process for Fall 2015. The intent was to engage the ridership, stakeholders, and affected communities in a conversation regarding the proposed fare modifications and then conclude with final recommendations at a formal public hearing to be held in early 2016. Activities in the public outreach plan fall under two major categories, direct involvement and information distribution activities, and include the following:

I. Direct Involvement Activities

Open House Workshops (November 2015) - Two open house workshops were held to solicit feedback regarding the proposed fare modifications. One was held at the County Administration Building - Commission Chambers, and the second at the MPO administrative offices. Attendees were given the opportunity to view materials regarding the Handy Bus service and proposed fare modifications, ask questions of staff, and were encouraged to complete a short survey that gauged their opinion on the proposed fare modifications.

Transportation Disadvantaged Local Coordinating Board (LCB) Discussion (November 2015) - A brief overview of the fare modifications and the public outreach process was provided to the LCB. The LCB is in a strategic position to provide valuable feedback, given that this Board represents system users and purchasing agencies that would be directly affected by the fare change.

Survey - A short survey was drafted to gauge user perspectives and opinions on the proposed fare modifications. The survey was distributed at the open house workshops and was posted on-line for those who were unable to attend the workshops. In addition, MCAT staff conducted a phone survey of Handy Bus riders using the same set of questions from the workshop survey instrument.

Formal Public Hearing (January 2016) - A formal public hearing with the Manatee County BCC is scheduled for late January 2016. Staff will present all public outreach feedback and request action from the BCC on the fare modification proposals.

II. Information Distribution Activities

MCAT website - All public outreach materials were made available on the MCAT website. In addition, members of the public were also able to complete the same survey distributed at the open house workshops via a web link placed on the MCAT website.

Informational Correspondence - MCAT staff prepared and transmitted a formal letter to all social service organizations that work with Handy Bus users and advised them of the proposed fare changes, opportunities to provide feedback, and also included a public notice for the open house workshops.

Public Notice/Flyer - A notice containing location, date, and time information for the open house workshops was created for distribution to social service agencies and was posted at MCAT stations and other areas where Handy Bus users are known to frequent.

The fare proposals have been mostly well received throughout the public outreach process. In fact, 59 percent of Handy Bus users who were contacted through the phone survey favored an increase in fares in order to maintain the current level of Handy Bus service and continue quality service and on-time performance. In summary, passengers understand the needs of fare revenue to support increasing ridership demand and operating costs and are willing to pay more to maintain a high level of service.

At this time, continuance of the public hearing is required for additional coordination.

County Attorney Review
Not Reviewed (No apparent legal issues)

Explanation of Other

Reviewing Attorney

Instructions to Board Records


Cost and Funds Source Account Number and Name

Amount and Frequency of Recurring Costs

Attachment:  BCC Para Workshop 0915_v6.pdf
Attachment:  Para Fare Modifications Public Outreach Action Plan.pdf
Attachment:  Handy Bus Public Hearing Notice.pdf
Attachment:  Handy Bus Public Hearing Ad_Tempo News.pdf