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Palm Tran's Enhanced Bus Network: 'Beginning of the Future'

Palm Tran recently celebrated the launch of its revamped bus system—the Route Performance Maximization (RPM) project, the agency’s first redesign in more than two decades—with a unique ribbon-cutting ceremony at the West Palm Beach (FL) Intermodal Center.

With the RPM, Palm Tran “revved up” its bus network with more direct and efficient service. To honor the occasion, a bus instead of scissors cut through a banner held by Palm Tran staff, riders and local county officials. Dignitaries in attendance were Palm Beach County Vice Mayor Mack Bernard, Palm Beach County Commissioners Paulette Burdick and Steven L. Abrams, Palm Tran Executive Director Clinton B. Forbes and Palm Beach County Assistant County Administrator Todd Bonlarron.

“The launch of the RPM project is a huge milestone for Palm Tran and signifies the beginning of the future,” said Forbes. “Through identifying inefficiencies in our network, we were able to vastly enhance our system, which will continue to serve the  ­booming population of Palm Beach County.”
Attending the launch of Palm Tran’s Route Performance Maximization project, from left: Palm Tran Service Board Members Myra Goldick, Allen Boyd II and Carmencita Mitchell; Commissioner Paulette Burdick; Palm Tran Service Board Member Dennis Martin; Commissioner Steven L. Abrams; Palm Tran Executive Director Clinton B. Forbes; Vice Mayor Mack Bernard; Palm Beach County Assistant County Administrator Todd Bonlarron; and Palm Tran Service Board Member and Boynton Beach Mayor Steven Grant.
The system redesign has resulted in improved travel times, more direct service and extended hours for select routes, operating with buses equipped with free onboard Wi-Fi.

Palm Tran collected more than 1,400 surveys through various outreach events prior to implementing any changes. The county commissioners approved the final proposal in August and Palm Tran staff made final preparations to ensure the most seamless transition for riders, including more than 70 outreach events.

Palm Tran operated the new service free for the first week, allowing new riders a chance to try the system and current riders an opportunity to acclimate to their new routes without cost concerns. During this period, more than 80 staff members set out to bus stops throughout Palm Beach County to help guide riders in the right direction.

Ridership soared during the launch of the RPM project, with a 21 percent ridership increase on the Sunday of the launch compared to the prior Sunday. Furthermore, on-time performance (OTP) averaged an unprecedented 82 percent for the first five days of service.

Bernard congratulated Palm Tran for its ability to revamp its system within the existing budget. “One of the best aspects of Palm Tran’s RPM project is that it required no additional funding. Simply by finding inefficiencies, $5 million was identified to be invested into the Palm Tran system,” he said. “These funds will now be used to provide extended hours for select routes and improve the efficiency of bus routes.”

For the special ribbon-cutting ceremony, a bus instead of scissors cut through a banner held by Palm Tran staff, Palm Tran Service Board members and county officials.
Burdick spoke about the cost savings and environmental benefits that can come from riding public transit. “Palm Beach County residents can save $10,000 by giving up their car and ­riding public transit. Imagine the homeownership of our residents by putting that money in the bank,” she noted.

“Transit makes sense economically. Riding Palm Tran reduces traffic congestion, takes the headache out of finding a place to park and creates a cleaner environment,” she added.

Abrams also commended Palm Tran on the launch, highlighting the improvements implemented on two specific bus routes.

“Route 94 always zigged and zagged and went hither and yon. Now it’s going to be a direct shot to downtown Boca Raton, connecting Florida Atlantic University and the Tri-Rail station,” said Abrams. “Route 91 will have more direct trips to the regional hospital and extended weekend service.”

Bonlarron specifically recognized the bus operators who would be behind the wheel at the forefront of the RPM launch. “These are the men and women of Palm Tran who we are going to be relying on to make sure the buses run on time and are properly run,” he said.

Palm Tran reported more than nine million rides a year in 2017 and, with these new enhancements, the agency has set its ridership goal at more than 10 million. For more information on the redesigned bus system, click here.
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