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The Sarasota County commissioners this week gave staff the go-ahead to conduct a thorough study of the operating expenses of the Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) bus system. The independent cost estimate (ICE) will focus on ways the sys- tem can be run more efficiently. More sig- nificantly, it will mark the first step toward evaluating whether privatization of the transit system would save money. County Administrator Tom Harmer told the commissioners on April 29 that before staff undertook any further exploration of the privatization proposal, he wanted to know whether they would prefer a study of that option for just some of SCAT's services or all of them. " I ' m v e r y m u c h i n f a v o r o f p u r - s u i n g a s t u d y o n t h i s , " r e p l i e d Commissioner Nora Patterson, referring t o a r e v i e w o f t h e entire system. A Sarasota County Area Transit paratransit bus (right) is stopped at Southgate Mall in Sarasota at the same time a SCAT hybrid bus is picking up passengers. File photo THE COUNTY COMMISSION APPROVES A STUDY OF ITS BUS SERVICE'S OPERATING EXPENSES THE PRIVATIZATION TRACK We are reviewing this to see if we can get the same level of service or better level … Charles Hines Chairman Sarasota County Commission By Roger Drouin County Editor

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