Privatization of SCAT discussion stirs debate at Sarasota County Commission meeting

Privatization of SCAT discussion stirs debate at Sarasota County Commission meeting

SARASOTA COUNTY (WWSB) - Those opposed to the privatization of SCAT having their voices heard on Tuesday. it’s stirring up quite a debate.

SCAT bus drivers and their union came to the Sarasota County Commissioner’s meeting Tuesday afternoon carrying signs and pushing to put an end to this discussion of privatizing the bus service. Their biggest concerns include rider safety, fare hikes and job loss. Carl Nelson has been a SCAT bus driver for more than eight years. He says privatization of SCAT is not a good idea.

“Privatization does not work in public transportation, it’s supposed to be a public service and these guys that come in they’re doing it for profit and almost in all cases they cut service,” said Nelson.

The county is looking at privatization as a way to cut costs and improve service. A panel had recently ranked possible private vendors with a company called Transdev coming out as their top choice. Commissioners considered a couple of different options today including getting the ball rolling regarding privatization, keeping things as is or continuing to consider options. In the end they decided unanimously to cancel the Request for Proposals and have a future workshop to discuss further options with an adviser.

“I think the world has changed, our buses are too big, they are too empty," said Nancy Detert, a Sarasota County Commissioner. "So we want to make sure we have the right routes, the right services.”

At this point it’s not known when this will be discussed again, but Commissioner Detert tells us it could still take at least six months before they have a final decision on whether or not to privatize SCAT.

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