Manatee County Government Administrative Center Commission Chambers, First Floor 9:00 a.m. - July 26, 2016
July 26, 2016 - Regular Meeting
Agenda Item #86

Proposed MCAT Fixed Route Service Optimization and Restructuring Plan


Contact and/or Presenter Information

William Steele, Transit Division Manager, William.Steele@mymanatee.org, (941) 747-8621, x 7440

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

Action Requested
  • Approve the Public Works/Transit Division's proposed Fixed Route Service Optimization and Restructuring Plan, which includes the reduction of certain low ridership routes and the repurposing of that effort to the core network as matching funds for FDOT service development grants (Manatee Avenue and Cortez Road if FDOT approves the scope change of the Lakewood Ranch grant).

Enabling/Regulating Authority
Florida Statutes 341; adopted Manatee County Ten-Year Transit Development Plan (TDP)

Background Discussion
  • Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) services improve the quality of life for Manatee County residents and visitors by providing, in a cost-efficient manner, a readily-accessible, intermodal means of mobility. These services also reduce the impact of traffic congestion on major roadway corridors in the urban areas of the county by providing an alternative to travel by personal automobile.
  • During the past several months, the Transit Division staff, utilizing analytical ridership and operational information, developed several potential service modifications. The intent of this effort is to optimize service delivery and, when possible, repurpose fixed route service hours to increase service frequency on "core network" routes; in particular, service along the Manatee Avenue and Cortez Road corridors.
  • This study effort includes using up-to-date information from Automatic Passengers Counters (APC's) and comparative analytics relating to passengers productivity for each fixed route. In fact, Transit Division staff reviewed all Fixed Route ridership and operating data collected from the APC's (i.e., ridership and running time for each bus trip, ridership by bus stop and by time of day, etc.).
  • This Fixed Route ridership and operational information allows the Transit Division staff to evaluate each fixed route individually, and conduct a comparative review of weekday and Saturday ridership productivity levels. In short, this effort is a comprehensive review for the entire Fixed Route system and identifies underperforming routes, route segments, and/or specific bus trips.
  • Staff introduced the performance analytics and study approach for the Fixed Route Optimization and Restructuring effort, along with the objectives for the study, to the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) in a Work Session on February 16, 2016.
  • On March 8, 2016, the BCC, in a regular session, approved the use of repurposed service and the savings that accrue in service hours from the Fixed Route Optimization/Restructuring Plan in conjunction with approval to execute Joint Participation Agreements (JPAs) with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). These JPAs provide FDOT Service Development Program funding to enhance the Manatee Avenue corridor/Route 3 service frequency; and in implementation, provide 30-minute service frequency (currently Route 3 operates with 60-minute service frequency). The savings from the Fixed Route Optimization/Restructuring Plan provide the necessary 50% local match for the Route 3 service enhancement.
  • Staff launched a Public Engagement process in May 2016 in order to review/discuss proposed service modifications with MCAT customers and interested stakeholders. On the whole, the concept of restructuring existing service to improve service frequency on "core network" routes is very well received in the community.
  • An online survey instrument offered an opportunity to gauge support for the proposed Service Modifications as well. Website and social media offered an opportunity to engage in the Public Engagement process remotely as well.
  • On June 14th, in a BCC Work Session, the Public Works Department Director and staff further detailed the approach whereby savings from the Fixed Route Optimization/Restructuring Plan is used for the necessary 50% local match for the Route 3 (i.e. Manatee Avenue/SR 64 corridor) service enhancement; and furthered understanding of the fact that the FDOT Service Development Program grant funding would, in fact, pay to add three (3) Transit Operators to the workforce for the Route 3 service enhancement, with implementation in FY 2017.
  • The FDOT Service Development grant program limits project assistance to three (3) years and Manatee County would be responsible for fully funding the service enhancement in FY 2020 (after the service development grant program funding is exhausted). The overall annual increase to the Transit Division budget to fund the Route 3 enhancement is approximately $123,000 in FY 2017 and is FDOT grant funded.
  • Public Works/Transit Division staff recommends that the BCC approve the Fixed Route Optimization/Restructuring Plan and authorize staff to use repurposed service hours to serve as the local match for the FDOT Route 3 Service development grant. 
  • While implementation is scheduled for November 2016, it is possible that the changes in service on Long Boat Key may not take place until early 2017 due to necessary advertising and education effort of the changes and coordination with Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT).  Once the changes to the Longboat Key route have been made, there will be sufficient hours available for a local match should FDOT approve repurposing the Lakewood Ranch grant to Cortez Road. A separate BCC action would be required in the future to formally enter into a Joint Participation Agreement (JPA) for the Cortez Road grant.

County Attorney Review
Not Reviewed (No apparent legal issues)

Explanation of Other

Reviewing Attorney

Instructions to Board Records
Please forward a copy of the Board Action/Approval to Ryan Suarez, Transit Planning Division Manager, ryan.suarez@mymanatee.org , (941) 747-8621, x 7622.

Cost and Funds Source Account Number and Name

Amount and Frequency of Recurring Costs

Attachment:  Service Modifications Public Outreach Summary.pdf
Attachment:  BCC Regular Meeting_Service Optimization_072616 v7.pdf