SARASOTA, Fla. — There's a new way to get around town in Sarasota, one that lets you soak in the sites and enjoy the beautiful weather. Plus, it's free.
The Bay Runner trolley launched Wednesday to begin offering complimentary transportation between downtown Sarasota, St. Armands Circle and Lido Beach.
City commissioners approved the new ride as a way "to help alleviate traffic congestion between downtown Sarasota and the barrier islands by offering an easy, hassle-free alternative to an automobile."
The open-air trolley has 12 pre-determined stops stationed about two to three blocks apart between the corner of Main Street and School Avenue and Ted Sperling Park at South Lido Beach.
The Bay Runner will operate daily from 8 a.m. to midnight, including holidays. It carries 28 passengers and is equipped with a wheelchair boarding lift.
While city leaders expect visitors to use the trolley for sightseeing, they hope people living and working in Sarasota can take advantage of it, too.
"One of the groups of folks that we really hope utilizes this are employees that come into the city, that park downtown at one of our several parking garages. And then, they can take this free ride out to St. Armands Circle or wherever they work along this line," City Commissioner Hagen Brody said.
Brody presented the trolley concept to the city commission for consideration last year.
One of the main focuses of the Bay Runner will, of course, be Sarasota's award-winning beaches. City leaders encourage riders to bring along beach totes, shopping bags and other carry-ons that can easily fit in the seats.
"With the Bay Runner, riders can live more and drive less,” Mark Lyons, Parking Management Division General Manager, said.
If you're looking to catch a ride, you can monitor the trolley's location and approximate arrival times through the Sarasota Bay Runner app, which is set to launch soon.