Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9 - 10

2018 BUS & PARATRANSIT CONFERENCE

Palm Tran Transforming Entire Bus System
BY SHERNIDE DELVA
Public Relations Specialist
Palm Tran
West Palm Beach, FL

P

alm Tran is overhauling its
decades-old bus system as the
agency seeks to make its service
more efficient, convenient and attractive
to "choice" riders-those who own cars
but might be interested in trying public
transit.
The agency also anticipates that
increased ridership will lead to improved
quality of life for residents, including
less traffic congestion and enhanced
economic development in the area.
Palm Tran hired transit consulting
firm Jarrett Walker & Associates to help
develop the agency's Route Performance
Maximization (RPM) project. In the
automotive industry, RPM stands for
Revolutions Per Minute. Palm Tran's
RPM symbolizes how route reorganization will "rev up" the agency and get
customers to their destinations more
quickly.
When RPM fully launches-projected
to be this fall-Palm Tran riders will
enjoy reduced travel times, more-direct
service and an overall improved customer experience.
"I did not come to lead the existing Palm Tran system. I came to lead
the newer, nimbler Palm Tran that will
continue to transform
in the coming years,"
said Executive Director
Clinton B. Forbes, who
accepted the lead role
at the agency in 2015.
"Our current bus network is outdated. RPM
will carry our transit
system into the future."
Palm Tran provides
more than nine million
fixed-route rides annually throughout Palm Beach County-
geographically the largest county east of
the Mississippi River, where 1.4 million
people currently reside. The county's
planning division estimates that, by
2020, that number will increase to 1.46
million, soaring to 1.54 million by 2025.
The agency, however, anticipates its
annual ridership numbers will stagnate
unless service changes are made.
RPM's comprehensive, redesigned bus

Since the expansion,
the agency has seen an
almost 90 percent
increase in ridership
on the route.

With nearly 30 years of experience in transit,
Palm Tran Executive Director Clinton B. Forbes
is looking to take Palm Tran to the next level
with RPM.

network will create the foundation for
accommodating the region's increasing
population.

Getting to The Root of the Issue

Palm Tran's bus network is hindered
by infrequent service, insufficient evening hours and less-than-ideal routes
and stops. The region has more than
3,200 bus stops-almost as many as
Miami-Dade Transit, which caters to
a much larger population. RPM could
eliminate many inefficient stops, making transit times more competitive with
vehicle travel times.
"Palm Tran has
too many routes
that snake through
neighborhoods
rather than go
in a straight line.
I call them spaghetti routes," said
Director of Transit
Planning Khaled
Shammout. "There
are also too many
bus stops and many
are less than a quarter mile apart from
each other. Together, these issues result
in an inefficient bus network."
RPM will streamline the entire system. "Streamlining the spaghetti routes
and the number of bus stops will result
in more direct and frequent service,"
Shammout said. "We will incorporate
surveys and public meetings and outreach. We also have stop-level data
collected by sensors on the buses, so
we have a good idea
where the high-frequency stops are and
the destinations of our
riders."
The Palm Tran
planning team analyzed the agency's
35 routes, resulting in
two redesign options:
the coverage model
and the ridership
model. The coverage
model emphasizes
redrawing routes to
Palm Tran provides more than nine million one-way passenger trips and
reach as many poten800,000 paratransit trips annually.

Attracting new riders-
who might have other
mobility options,
including personal
vehicles-is key to the
success of Palm Tran.

10 | Passenger Transport

tial passengers as possible. The ridership
future of transit in this community."
model focuses on increasing frequency
One of the goals of RPM is to offer
and speed while reducing service in
a service that attracts choice riders and
areas with unproductive routes.
builds rider loyalty. Forbes believes
Both models were presented to the
attracting new riders-who might have
Palm Beach County Board of County
other mobility options, including perCommissioners (BCC)
sonal vehicles-is key
in November 2017.
to the success of Palm
Ultimately, Palm Tran
Tran.
and the BCC signaled
Efforts have
that the enhanced
already been taken
coverage model was
to attract the choice
preferred. The board
rider population.
favored continued
These include adding
growth in the western
USB ports on buses
portions of Palm Beach
for charging phones
County, with residents
and introducing a
there having public transit options
new uniform policy for bus operators.
available.
RPM is the next step in this process.
"The enhanced coverage model was
"Palm Tran wants to win over the
preferred to ensure that residents that
population of people who drive. These
live in the western parts of the county
people don't like a lot of roadblocks.
continue to have access to public tranThey want to look at their personal
sit," Forbes explained. "The enhanced
devices while our buses whisk through
coverage model really exemplifies our
traffic," Forbes said. "They want a direct
mission statement: 'to provide access
service to their destination of choice and
to opportunity for everyone,' which
RPM will aim to provide that."
will ensure the maximum number of riders
have access to Palm Tran
while still improving its
efficiency."
Palm Tran aims to
redesign its bus network
by allocating 60 percent of
bus service to high-ridership routes and 40 percent
to coverage lines. Some
routes will be adjusted to
improve their coverage
and efficiency, while other
routes will be adjusted to
Palm Tran's executive leadership team and consultants develop the
increase frequency.
Route Performance Maximization project.

Building a Loyal
Ridership

Encouraging Results

Palm Tran is conducting extensive and
intensive public outreach prior to implementing major service changes. The
agency has engaged Adams Consulting
Group Inc. and C. Robinson and Associates for development of an outreach
plan. Most of the initiative's marketing,
however, will be handled in house.
The agency is hosting outreach
events across the region, from Boca
Raton to the Glades-roughly 25 miles
from the county's most populous city,
West Palm Beach. The agency is using
street teams, hotlines and surveys to
gather crucial data and public input.
Palm Tran teams have also attended
local area events, conferences and clubs
to gather public feedback and to answer
questions. Additional outreach has
included sharing information on palmtran.org and the agency's social media
platforms; further messaging will incorporate signage, five full bus wraps, bus
interior cards and a seat drop.
"We want to have a robust conversation with the public before any changes
are made to the system," Forbes said.
"We want to reach as many people as
possible to obtain their feedback on the

As part of the preliminary phase of RPM,
Palm Tran expanded its Route 4 six
miles via Haverhill Road in West Palm
Beach in January of this year, resulting
in improved access to the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and VA Medical Center.
Since the expansion, the agency has
seen an almost 90 percent increase in
ridership on the route. This unprecedented increase foreshadows the potential success expected from the overall
RPM project. "If that increase serves as
any kind of barometer of the results we
can expect, then I am certain that when
RPM fully launches, it will encourage
more choice riders to utilize transit,"
said Forbes.
"RPM will 'rev up' Palm Tran service
in our community," Forbes said. "I am
excited about all the improvements
to come as part of this initiative," he
concluded.
Once RPM launches, Palm Tran plans
to look at modernizing fare technology
to allow the use of smartphones and
credit cards. To learn more about Palm
Tran's RPM project, reach out to the
RPM team at palm-rpm@pbcgov.org.


http://www.palmtran.org http://www.palmtran.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9

Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9 - 1
Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9 - 2
Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9 - 3
Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9 - 4
Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9 - 5
Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9 - 6
Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9 - 7
Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9 - 8
Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9 - 9
Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9 - 10
Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9 - 11
Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9 - 12
Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9 - 13
Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9 - 14
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Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9 - 20
Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9 - 21
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Passenger Transport May 2018 Vol 76 No 9 - 24
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