Manatee County Area Transit Goes Fare-Free

Manatee County Area Transit Goes Fare-Free
Posted on 10/28/2022
MCAT BusMANATEE COUNTY, FL (October 28, 2022) – Starting Tuesday, November 1, Manatee County bus riders can get from here to there without paying a fare as Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) initiates an 18-month pilot program of fare-free transportation.

Passengers will not have to pay on MCAT buses in Manatee County. Fares will still be collected on the Sarasota County portion of the Route 99 service linking Downtown Bradenton, Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) and Downtown Sarasota.

At-Large Commissioner George Kruse initially suggested looking at free fares in September, pointing out that what is collected represents a small part of the $20 million Manatee County spends on Transit—especially after the costs associated with fare collection are calculated. He also noted that the free fares are already working in Manatee County—with the popular Anna Maria Island Trolley.

“If we start treating transit like infrastructure instead of like a service, I think you're going to start seeing a massive improvement in people's lives,” said Commissioner Kruse.

The Board of County Commissioners asked for a pilot program that could stimulate and encourage the use of mass transit and reduce operational costs by eliminating fares. Adopted on September 27, Resolution R-22-186 makes all fixed route fares free and complimentary beginning November 1.

The Riding MCAT page has the latest on routes and rules. MCAT Customer Service is available at (941) 749-7116 for more information.