Award-winning Bay Runner turns one March 2
Ridership continues to grow and surpass expectations as the inaugural year for the complimentary open-air trolley service the Bay Runner is marked Thursday, March 2. Over 150,800 passengers have experienced the award-winning Bay Runner during the first 12 months of operation.
Sarasota, FL (March 1, 2023): Ridership continues to grow and surpass expectations as the inaugural year for the complimentary open-air trolley service the Bay Runner is marked Thursday, March 2. Over 150,800 passengers have experienced the award-winning Bay Runner during the first 12 months of operation.
“The popularity of the Bay Runner is greater than we could have imagined,” said Planning Director Steve Cover whose parking, mobility and transportation teams implemented the City Commission’s vision of a free shuttle service to help alleviate traffic congestion between downtown and Lido Beach. “People in Sarasota truly want to live more and drive less. The Bay Runner is a unique experiential service that is relaxing, fun and helps get vehicles off the road and reduce emissions in our beautiful coastal community.”
From the first day of service on March 2, 2022 when an impressive 208 passengers tried the Bay Runner, the trolley has become increasingly popular. In April 2022, the monthly ridership was 14,291. By February 2023, it grew to 17,000 passengers.
“The Bay Runner is a convenient, safe, and stress-free option to travel between the mainland and barrier islands,” said Mayor Kyle Battie. “By opting to leave their vehicle behind and ride the trolley, each passenger is doing their part to reduce traffic congestion and that’s significant, especially during peak season. We’re proud of the Bay Runner’s success and want to keep the momentum going.”
The Bay Runner provides free service on a fixed route along Main Street through downtown, over the John Ringling Bridge, around St. Armands Circle and to Lido Beach and Ted Sperling Park.
Service is available every day of the year from 8 a.m. to midnight. A route map is available at www.SarasotaBayRunner.com A mobile app with real time tracking and arrival information can be downloaded via the Apple App Store and Google Play.
The Bay Runner carries 28 passengers, is equipped with a wheelchair boarding lift and transports bicycles.
The service is operated by CPR Medical Transport, the same company that runs the popular Siesta Key Breeze trolley.
The City Commission partnered with the Downtown Improvement District (DID), St. Armands Business Improvement District (BID), Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and City staff to launch the trolley service. In addition to City economic development funds, and a $1.5 million FDOT grant, the DID and BID each allocate $50,000 annually toward the initial three-year program.
“We understand the important role the Bay Runner is playing with mobility,” said City Manager Marlon Brown. “We are reviewing all potential funding sources to ensure the trolley continues.”
The trolley, plus micromobility options, were identified through citizen input during the creation of the City’s first transportation master plan, Sarasota in Motion, adopted by the City Commission in 2020.
Just two weeks after the Bay Runner launch, the City rolled out a new e-scooter/bicycle rental program to provide quick, convenient mobility. Veo, the operator, is reporting record demand in Sarasota with 127,753 total trips taken between March 2022 and January 2023. Many riders incorporate the Bay Runner and Veo to reach their destination, by taking the trolley then a scooter or vice versa for the first or last mile of their trip.
The City’s trolley and e-scooter/bike rental programs were honored together in June 2022 by the International Parking & Mobility Institute (IPMI) with an Award of Excellence for innovation with a mobility program.
The Bay Runner also received four prestigious awards this month from the American Advertising Federation for creativity and excellence in branding and marketing provided by Sarasota-based marketing firm Next-Mark.
About the City of Sarasota: Distinguished by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top 10 Best Places to Live in the U.S. and the number one place in Florida, the City of Sarasota is a diverse and inclusive community located on Florida’s Suncoast with 56,000 year-round residents, several internationally recognized cultural arts venues, stunning sunsets along Lido Beach and Major League spring training baseball with the Baltimore Orioles. Learn more about us at www.SarasotaFL.Gov