Sarasota County's OnDemand ride-sharing service rolling to an early success
Sarasota County Area Transit’s (SCAT) OnDemand service has carried thousands of passengers in less than a year, a success that has proven that new transportation alternatives provided cost efficiencies for the community.
Launched in June 2021, this mobility option focuses on four specific zones that cater to residents and visitors alike. Those zones - North Port, Siesta Key, Englewood and Venice, and Lido and Longboat Key – provide rides within the zones and work in conjunction with fixed-route bus service to transport riders throughout the county. OnDemand has served over 100,000 passengers during that time.
SCAT Director Jane Grogg said that although the program is still relatively new and has not been widely marketed, early data indicates it has exceeded original projections.
“We’re still learning and exploring, but the program has proved to be effective,” she added.
OnDemand works as part of broader enhancements to SCAT services, including reducing the number of underutilized routes and lowering paratransit usage. Now, Grogg and her staff are exploring where OnDemand service might be a solution for other areas of the county.
Grogg praised the Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners for their investment and belief in the service changes, along with their continued support of the growing OnDemand program.
“The board challenged us to be more efficient, find cost savings and offer transportation options that reflect the growing trends such as Uber and Lyft,” she said. “We have accomplished that, but there’s more work to be done.”
An OnDemand vehicle will pick up customers within 30 minutes of the ride request and take them to their destinations within the same zone. Other customers traveling similar routes may share rides. Minivans are used to deliver the service, and are accessible for those using mobility devices or needing a ramp to board.
Curb-to-curb rides for this new service will be available from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Each ride will cost $1.25. Rides can be booked using the OnDemand app, through scgov.net/SCAT website or by calling (941) 300-1553. Riders can pay online through the app or by paying cash to the driver. Reservations are required to use this service.