BRADENTON, Fla. (August 18, 2014) In an effort to promote the continuing conversation and consideration regarding a Public/Private Operating Partnership (PPOP) for mass transit in the Sarasota/Manatee region, the Sarasota and Manatee Chambers of Commerce have launched SMARTransit.org.
The site is a result of the Chambers’ desire to reaffirm their shared resolutions in support of considering proposals to enter into a PPOP for their mass transit systems. The goal for the site is to serve as an information gateway where stakeholders can learn more about the concept and benefits of a PPOP. Users can also ask questions and provide feedback through a friendly contact form.
Additionally, the site exists to further promote the potential for the transit systems to become co-managed in a way that would fully realize the benefits of such an operating model. Rather than operate as separate entities, our region would benefit far greater from a co-managed platform that would service the ridership as a Sarasota Manatee Area Regional Transit system. The concept is smart – it’s innovative, it’s better for the ridership, and it’s better for the taxpayer.
While the term ‘merger’ has been used in more recent conversations surrounding the topic, the concept for SMARTransit is more acceptable and advanced. Such an idea would actually see the individual counties retain ownership of all pieces of equipment, maintenance facilities and bus shelters. The local governing bodies would also continue to make policy decisions about fares, routes and development of the system.
In other communities, the PPOP model has resulted in a reduction in the cost of service by as much as 29% while at the same time increasing service. PPOP models have also proven successful in reducing accident rates, maintenance calls, and customer service complaints. All the while, some of the risk associated with operating mass transit services is shifted away from the local government (i.e., our hardworking taxpayers) and is instead used to incent better service and more efficient operations from a private operator.
Given the ongoing budget pressures facing both counties, there’s likely not been a better time to review proposals for a PPOP system for mass transit. This type of partnership could literally save our taxpayers, who currently fund over 65% of our nearly $30 million fixed-route transit services, millions of dollars per year.
For more information, visit SMARTransit.org