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Here’s The Scoop…Pelican Hopper …FARE Play?…

HOPPING TO PAY YOUR FARE SHARE TO KEEP THE COMMUNITY BUS?….

The Broward County Transit Community Forum came to Jarvis Hall last night…but the Hall was locked and no Town Manager or Assist. Town Manager were there to meet and greet them or the few residents in attendance!

This is forum that is being put on in all municipalities as directed by the Broward County Commissioners to get the input from the citizens on what the public transportation issues are , what should be done now and in the future to improve public transportation….

First and foremost it has become the disturbing, embarrassing  M.O.  of our Town to find such planned programs in such disarray when the presenters arrive at our hall….We have seen it multiple times before…It began with the first MPSC meeting …which was bad enough when dealing with volunteer residents..but it expanded onto RFP meetings….and  community outreach programs such as the ISO, Turtle Workshop and now this Transportation Forum…A “black eye” for the Town…

In attendance were Mayor Minnet, Comm. Dodd, L. Peanuts Wick, 3 residents…1 gentleman from Fort Lauderdale ( a member of the Florida Coalition of Rail Passengers), Finance Director Kaola King, and 4 members of the Transit Dept….including Bob Nelson Director of Broward County Transit (for the last 4 months coming from Portland Oregon)..and Suzanne Campbell who is in charge of the Community Bus (Pelican Hopper)…

After and introduction by Dir. Nelson there was a brief PowerPoint presentation was made addressing the Broward public transportation challenges…The daily ridership is 125,000 a day…38 million passengers a year..38-39 passengers per hr. (nat. avg. is 36 per hr.) …with rush hours purported to being so “packed” that larger buses have been purchases to handle the loads…Comparisons were made to other cities nationwide..which showed for example King County Metro  in Seatle…having a population of 1.9 million (Broward 1.7 million) …with 1,413 buses (Broward 289)…King County employees 4,361 (Brow. 1,016)…What was stressed in the comparison and throughout the meeting was the difference of a “predictable source of income” …. a “dedicated source of revenues”…meaning  a sales tax (1/2 cent)…Broward County provides $52 million out of its General Fund..”it’s capped”…and although federal funds are available for purchase of buses..the funds for the drivers and those who maintain and repair the buses are lacking…To deal with the larger buses some of the stimulus will be used at the Ravenswood location to increase the bays that are not long enough to do….Also discussed were the costs associated with adding more service…with the example given of frequency…every 15 minutes means more buses are needed…There are 4 major Broward Transit agencies…Broward/Miami-Dade/Palm Tran/RTA (tri-rail)…they provide over 153 million trips a year…2700 combined square miles service area…fleet of 1600 vehicles…Each County has its own planning organization at the present time…but there is a move to combine the agencies together to compete with larger cities such a San Francisco…Growth statistics were given showing an increase in population with the economy stabilizing…leaving the transit system unable to accommodate it…A challenge was shown with the time stuck in traffic due to congestion…and of course the environmental impact was addressed…along with the fluctuating costs of gas…The presentation showed by the year 2030 there will be 48% more people compared to 2000 (HMMM)…At the end was the age old problem of dealing with the other challenge…that people are “married to the steering wheel”…

After a brief time for refreshments …brought in by Broward Transit…two tables sat independently to discuss the “challenge” and get the input…At our table was Comm. Dodd, Brow. County  Rep.Israel (did not get a last name), Suzanne Campbell, Peanuts Wick , Michael Smith (Ft. Laud. FCRP member), a resident and this writer…Comm. Dodd asked for information on density to allow for a correct comparison between cities…( the info was not on hand)…along with speaking about the priority given to buses in other countries and what would need to be done along those lines to increase ridership…Israel spoke about both with input from Ms. Campbell…they are looking at buses having a device similar to emergency vehicles that have the ability to hold the traffic lights for 8-10 seconds allowing them to go through…especially for certain routes …also in the works “dedicated” lanes …where there will be the HOV lane…then the bus lane and then lanes for cars…Peanuts asked about passes and spoke of “smart cards” similar to the type used in Chicago (work like credit cards) …Those are in the works as well…Prior to the discussion Peanuts spoke to Comm. Dodd about the Pelican Hopper route…Peanuts again brought it up at the discussion with Ms. Campbell…a loop that would extend to the Galt  ( including that maybe the condos would “kick in” funding…see 3/10/09 meeting below) to Oakland Blvd…go to Holy Cross Hospital and come back to Terra Mar…Ms. Campbell said we have the say for the routes (a sharp contrast to the 3/10/09 comments on the dais from the Town Manager and the Vice Mayor…(see below)…Ms. Campbell took down the suggestion…she also spoke of community bus signs that are available for the town to have to put up anywhere…such as condos…The resident briefly added that she would be happy to pay for the service….(see 3/10/09 meeting below)…This writer asked Ms. Campbell about the apparent “disconnect” over the assumption there will be a community bus next year…due to the 3/10/09 meeting…the cut in county funding…and the lack of riders…Ms. Campbell was unaware of the meeting…and the Commission’s comments…She did say that the “talk” right now is that Broward County will cut down from $20 to $15 with LBTS picking up the difference …She was surprised that Assist. Town manger Olinzock was not there and said she contacted him, but received no reply….Also discussed were bus shelters…on the budget tonight under Capital Imp. for 2010-2011…after being removed this last year…The presentation included the stimulus providing for bus shelters in Broward County…This writer asked for further info and was told the Town should contact them…a brief discussion included the ADA requirements of the shelters…but Ms. Campbell added that contacting them could also allow for a “grandfathering” in that could alleviate those requirements in certain areas and the same requirements did not apply to the community bus stops…

LBTS video of 3/10 09 Town Manager item 7 C..Community Bus- consideration of fare for riders (County recommends)

http://lbts.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=200

The disconnect for this writer came from the 3/10/09 meeting …Town manger Report…7C…

The Town Manger said  the budget went down $14,000 and we are lacking in ridership…no double digits per hour as required for the grant…Some of the cities are looking at fares…and the County was asking for the Town to start looking towards that direction…without funding the cost to the Town $102,00 for the next year….She added a resident sent in a suggestion that with the lack of ridership why make the taxpayers pay?…She was looking for direction and felt as if she had received none…The Manager added that the Town sent out 200 letters to businesses asking for help…none was forthcoming…although for a brief time some restaurants and businesses did offer a coupon or discount…She said times are hard…and with Easter, 4th of July coming up she was being careful…Later on she added the problems she had with the wrong route being used saying it had been corrected and added the bus has to go where Broward County wants the bus to go (not according to the Broward County Community Bus Rep. Ms. Campbell…see above)…

The Vice Mayor asked for big signs saying FREE…and the manager said we had them on the bus..not the sides …could be added…He also stated without ridership with it being free and if  a fare is asked for “we’ll get nobody paying for a ride”…He added elderly depended on it….and we should do what we can to keep it but “I agree if it’s only 3 or 4 people we have to draw the line” ending with “Free and if we charge it’s history anyway.”…

Comm. Dodd asked about the cost being solely LBTS and if Galt Ocean was charged…this led to the route discussion by the Town Manager…

Comm. Clottey asked about a resident’s suggestion to ask Publix and CVS to provide funds or donate which brought forth the Town Manger’s letters sent reply…

The Mayor added that she did know people tipped the driers and she knew some that would pay a fare, that we should look in that direction to make it viable to keep the bus…

Comm. Dodd asked that Galt Ocean should be approached to ask for funds…(Peanuts brought this up after Comm. Dodd suggested it …see above)…

Vice Mayor McIntee said “Lauderdale-By-The-Sea doesn’t own the bus the County pays everything so to say we is not fair to the County or VM Keechl or anybody.in the County. They provide all the money and if they want to make the bus go all the way to Oakland Park and they give us a free bus, God Bless em cause we aren’t paying anything”…HUH?…

The Mayor ended the discussion saying we’re “status quo” and “maybe the businesses will kick in”…

BC- The ridership did not improve…The County is cutting its funding…We do have the 1st Budget Workshop tonight…What will the Town do with the Pelican Hopper in 2009-2010?…What will be a cost to the taxpayers?….Those who want to pay fares…those that will be willing to pay to keep it or those who will not want to pay.either way…..better let their Commissioners know!…The Broward County Transit Forum will return for a second time…This will be a second chance for the Town and the residents to participate…

more to come……

Town link with Pelican Hopper info …Broward County Transportation links for maps…and more…

http://www.lauderdalebythesea-fl.gov/town/hopper.htm

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