Palm Tran Seeks To Modernize Shelters And Upgrade Services

The Wellington Municipal Complex.

The Wellington Village Council heard a presentation on Palm Tran’s bus shelter improvement program Tuesday, Dec. 13 that also touched on ways that the countywide bus service has been working to upgrade its services as it looks toward the future.

The presentation was led by Palm Tran Executive Director Clinton Forbes, who noted at the start of his presentation that he is a Wellington resident. Forbes was joined by Yash Nagal, head of transit planning for Palm Tran.

“We provide public transportation service throughout the entire county,” Forbes said as he ran through a PowerPoint presentation about the county’s bus service.

This includes fixed-route buses, paratransit service for the elderly and disabled, and a new offering, the Go Glades micro transit service.

Go Glades was implemented in 2018. It is a door-to-door shared ride system in the Glades communities.

“This is similar to, but better than Uber and Lyft,” Forbes said. “As part of our transit development plan, we are looking to see where in the eastern communities we can implement a system like this.”

Go Glades started with 1,000 boardings and has grown to more than 10,000 boardings a month on the system now. It costs $2 per trip for a one-way ride, door to door.

“This is a very successful, growing mode of transportation around the country,” Forbes said. It is very expensive, so it has to be scaled appropriately to be cost effective, but it has been proven in the Glades region.”

This is one way that Palm Tran has been working on solving the problem of the first and last mile, getting riders to exactly where they want to be.

“I appreciate the emphasis you guys are placing on the first and last mile, making this a more user-friendly experience,” Councilman John McGovern said.

Forbes noted that Palm Tran’s new buses are very different than the buses people may remember from years ago. They include the new “Paradise Pass” automated fair collection system that makes it easier for riders to pay with whatever payment method or mobile device they have. There are also infotainment systems on the buses that also serve a security purpose.

For the future, Palm Tran has been exploring offering light rail service on Okeechobee Blvd., which is the agency’s most heavily traveled corridor.

“This is a long-term project that we are working to study and implement,” Forbes said.

The agency is also working toward its zero-emissions plan with a goal to convert 25 percent of its fleet to zero-emission vehicles by 2032.

Moving to Wellington, which is home to 50 bus stops and 13 bus shelters, Forbes noted that the Mall at Wellington Green remains a top hub for Palm Tran.

This brought Forbes to the new bus shelter program, which is being led by Nagal, who explained that the old bus stop model based on bus stops provided by advertising agencies is outdated. They needed to come up with a new proposal, which put Palm Tran in control of where the shelters go and what they look like.

Nagal showed the council a new, modern shelter prototype with LED information screens, real-time bus arrival times, solar lighting, shaded seating, better signage at bus stops, and QR codes to provide immediate bus information. He called it “the bus stop of the future.”

This project will be implemented starting in 2023 and will include locations in Wellington.

“We want to coordinate closely with your staff on these bus shelters,” Forbes said.

He added that Wellington will have options when it comes to the bus stop aesthetics to create a look that better fits the community.

That idea pleased Mayor Anne Gerwig. “We want our own brand involved,” she said.

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