Manatee County Government Administrative Center Commission Chambers, First Floor 9:00 a.m. - July 26, 2016
REVISED July 26, 2016 - Regular Meeting
Agenda Item #88

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
Adoption of Resolution R-16-118 as the new Handy Bus fare structure effective October 1, 2016, and utilize the additional fare revenue for maintaining current Handy Bus service level.

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 by appointment to individuals who are eligible under the State Transportation Disadvantaged (TD) Program and as a requirement for 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 20 percent. Over time, the demand for paratransit services in Manatee County (at the present staffing levels) has put a strain on the Handy Bus operations workforce, and the ability to maintain high customer satisfaction levels is increasingly difficult. Average ridership levels peaked in October 2015 to over 400 daily trips and the agency started incurring large overtime costs in order to meet demand and provide timely customer service. To satisfy ridership demand, ensure effective operations, and maintain the established level of service quality, Public Works/Transit Division staff is proposing a new Handy Bus fare structure which includes an increase to ADA and TD fares from $2/trip to $3/trip. Additional funding from the fare increase will be used to support the Transit Division in meeting the current demand for Handy Bus service.

To inform the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) of proposed Handy Bus fare modifications, two work sessions were held, one on September 1, 2015, and a second one on April 19, 2016. Transit Division staff also conducted an extensive public outreach process in Fall 2015 followed by a Public Hearing on January 26, 2016. 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 second/final public hearing with the BCC later in 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 office. Attendees were given the opportunity to view materials regarding the Handy Bus service, ask questions of staff, and were also 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 works with the system users that would be directly affected by the proposed fare modifications.

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. 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 was held in January 2016. Staff presented all public outreach feedback and riders commented on the fare modification proposal. Given the time lapse from the September 1, 2015, BCC Work Session, the public hearing was continued to a later date.

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 developed for distribution to social service agencies and was posted at MCAT stations and other areas where Handy Bus users are known to frequent.

Situational Analysis - It is important to note that 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 provision and on-time performance. In summary, many passengers understand the need to utilize fare revenue to support ridership growth and increased operating costs, and are willing to pay a higher fare to maintain the existing level of service and customer satisfaction. Moreover, the current fare structure for Handy Bus TD and ADA trips has not changed in at least twenty (20) years.

If increases in the Handy Bus fare are not implemented, Handy Bus service levels will be further constrained and existing and future demand for the Handy Bus service will not be met. Staff has determined that existing operational resources (Transit Operators) are at a sustainable capacity limit of about 325 trips per weekday, which is an overall reduction of approximately 6,400 trips per year. To accomplish this reduction, the number of TD trips must be further reduced to make way for the growing number of ADA service trips. Any capacity constraint on the ADA service could jeopardize Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funding for public transportation services in the County; so these trips must be served.

As a result, the following is proposed for Board approval:

  1. Adopt Fare Resolution # R-16-118 as the new MCAT Handy Bus Fare Structure, effective October 3, 2016.
  2. Utilize the additional revenue generated from the Handy Bus fare to maintain the current Handy Bus service level.

County Attorney Review
Not Reviewed (No apparent legal issues)

Explanation of Other

Reviewing Attorney

Instructions to Board Records
Please forward the signed Resolution and a copy of the minutes to William Steele, Transit Division Manager, William.Steele@mymanatee.org, (941) 747-8621, x 7440.

Cost and Funds Source Account Number and Name

Amount and Frequency of Recurring Costs

Attachment:  R-16-118_Handy Bus Fare Resolution.pdf
Attachment:  Para Fare Modifications Public Outreach Action Plan.pdf
Attachment:  BCC Para Fares Public Hearing 072616 v6.pdf