LBK trolley future in doubt

The future of the Sarasota County Area Transit trolley that connects Anna Maria Island and Coquina Beach trolley service with Longboat Key and downtown Sarasota may be in jeopardy.

Manatee County public works director Ron Schulhofer says Longboat Key agreed to pay Manatee County Area Transit $42,000 annually to support the trolley, while Longboat Key town manager Dave Bullock and Mayor Jim Brown say the funding agreement was only for one year.

Manatee County subsequently billed Longboat Key for $84,000 for the trolley service for 2012 and 2013.

Schulhofer said Longboat Key has not made a payment and no decision on the future of the service has been made.

Brown said Longboat Key already pays more than $600,000 annually in transportation taxes and that covers the town’s share of the trolley.

According to Brown, he asked Schulhofer to provide a copy of the contract that calls for Longboat Key to make an annual payment of $42,000, but as of last week, it had not been produced.

The SCAT-Longboat Key trolley, which charges a fee to ride, offers Anna Maria Island fare-free trolley-riders a means to connect with the MCAT trolley at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach. The Longboat trolley travels to St. Armands Circle and the downtown Sarasota SCAT depot, where riders can link with buses to other parts of Sarasota, including the Siesta Key and the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.