MCAT Skyway ConneXion

MCAT SX Banner 1

Starting Friday, April 1, 2016, you’ll have a new way to cross Tampa Bay between Pinellas and Manatee Counties! Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) will be launching its new Skyway ConneXion express bus service between Bradenton and St. Petersburg via I-275 and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The service will start out as a pilot that will have two trips during the day, Monday through Friday. The first trip will start out in Bradenton during the late morning and make a round trip to St. Pete and back, with a second round trip crossing the bay during the afternoon.

Planning

The idea for the new Skyway ConneXion service originated from the fact that MCAT was already doing Paratransit runs between Bradenton and the Bill Young VA Hospital at Bay Pines. Recently, demand for this trip has grown to the point to where MCAT began to use a Gillig Phantom transit bus instead of a cutaway van. Since the Paratransit trips are already funded, the new service will not require additional dollars to operate as-is. If demand for the new service increases, MCAT will consider adding in trips to meet customer needs. For the long term, I’m sure that MCAT will need to embark on securing state dollars for further expansion, which include FDOT Urban Corridor Project funds, which play a role in various cross-county express bus services across the state.

Original aspirations for transit service between Bradenton/Sarasota and Tampa Bay

While the Skyway ConneXion is a new service, this isn’t the first time that cross-county service between the Bradenton/Sarasota and Tampa Bay areas have been planned. In 2011, Sarasota County Area Transit proposed two routes – one between Sarasota, Bradenton, and St. Pete, with the second going to Tampa. However, funding issues led to this proposal being abandoned. In the future, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) may launch a cross-county limited express route from southern Hillsborough into northern Manatee.

Route and Stops

The Skyway ConneXion route will only load and unload customers at designated bus stops with the orange and blue MCAT decal.
The Skyway ConneXion route will only load and unload customers at designated bus stops with the orange and aqua MCAT decal.

Since the Skyway ConneXion is an express bus service, there will be very limited stops along the route. The southern portion of the route will connect MCAT’s three major transfer hubs – the DeSoto Station by the DeSoto Mall, the Downtown Bradenton Station, and the Palmetto Station. From there, buses will travel northward along US 41 to US 19 and I-275 and cross the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Once in Pinellas, buses will exit the interstate at the US 19/Pinellas Bayway/54th Ave S interchange and travel northward on US 19 (34th St S). The first Pinellas County stop will be situated at the intersection of US 19 and 50th Ave S, adjacent to Bay Pointe Plaza, where MCAT customers can connect to Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) bus routes 11 and 19. The next stop is along US 19, just shy of the 1st Ave S interchange by Checkers. This stop is just a short walk away from PSTA’s Grand Central Station, where customers can connect seamlessly to numerous destinations throughout Pinellas. From there, there is one more street-side stop along Tyrone Blvd and 68th St N, next to the Tyrone Square Mall, before the route terminates at the VA hospital at Bay Pines.

Fares

A one-way cash ride on the Skyway ConneXion will be $3.00 if only traveling within Pinellas or Manatee Counties, and $5.00 if you decide to cross county lines. An all-day $10.00 pass is available and will be valid across all MCAT operated bus routes. It is currently unclear if PSTA will be providing any sort of incentives (such as a free PSTA transfer) for MCAT customers.

More Information

More information about the Skyway ConneXion service can be obtained at MCAT’s website.


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One thought on “MCAT Skyway ConneXion”

  1. good stuff. l’ve done the tampa/rt. 19 corridor via public transit, from marion st to brookridge in brooksville. this was prior to purple line service, so there was the one gap between little road and phsc…an interesting walk up 19, especially with a pretty large carrying bag ( i had arrived by train the day before, bused to my motel room, next day went back downtown). it was a proof-of-concept run.

    1. the expresses west over the tamp bay bridges are damn impressive. true “region as viable concept” components. and the “public transit between two urban cores traveling over large bodies of navigable water” aspect tickles my brooklyn vibes. as in, it’s cool to be able to walk down a street in one part of town and simply jump on a [bus/lrtv/heavy rail/ferry] and be quickly transported to a whole nother part of town.

    2. rt. 19 corridor is definitely an “urban” corridor. would not, i think, hurt at all for some type of regional overview of the roadway, it’s impact. i would love to see the whole thing get sidewalked, for one thing.

    3. pasco county 19 should be extended to southern terminus of the hernando the bus purple line. this would create a defacto unterrupted (albiet with transfers) linear transit pathway.

    again, thinking regionaly, the introduction of brooksville – tampa commuter rail service over the csx trscks would be an unequalled opportunity for the solidification of the notion of public transportation as a viable, vibrant transportation system in the tampa “metro” area. brooksville would be especially enhanced by this service.

    thanks.

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