Nearly 9000 People Used Uber in Glades in August County Records Show

The Glades, a 110 square mile area with 41,000 residents on the western edge of the county close to Lake Okeechobee, is difficult for people to navigate. It is one of the state’s poorest areas. Since more than a third of its citizens live in poverty, many of them find it challenging to afford a car. It can be challenging to get to pharmacies and food stores frequently.

That’s where the relatively new Uber-like service from Palm Tran comes in. The organisation completely swapped out its fixed-route bus system in February for vans that offer curb-to-curb transportation. In August, Go Glades registered a monthly high of 8,883 passengers, an increase of nearly 50% in six months.

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Riders book curb-to-curb transportation with a smartphone app

The Go Glades system had been steadily growing even before the modification. Melissa McKinlay, a commissioner whose district includes the Glades, said the service has made it possible for those who depend on public transportation to go about their daily lives.

“The pilot programme was a success, and changes have been made as time goes on in response to client input. We’ll keep working to make the system more effective and better “said McKinlay.

“But for the first time in a long time, Glades residents believe that their mobility options are at least as good as those offered by their neighbours in coastal communities. And knowing they were heard is a source of satisfaction.” Every day from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., the service is offered throughout Pahokee, Belle Glade, and South Bay. A single journey costs only $2.

Go Glades is more than simply a convenience for Yovana Hernadez. She claimed that without it, going to the store, the pharmacy, or the laundromat required relying on either her parents or friends.

The Palm Tran Go Glades app for smartphones, which has close to 3,000 users as of now, allows Hernandez and other users to make reservations for the journeys. By calling Go Glades, they can also make a service request. The programme was purchased by the Florida Department of Transportation.

Hernandez remarked, “Before this service was available, I sometimes had to wait a week or even more to get out.” This is fantastic that they did. I don’t have a car, and many others here also don’t. Todd Bonlarron, the assistant county administrator, declared that “it has obviously taken off.” We will investigate whether the initiative may be extended to other parts of the county because we are really happy with it.

Every day from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., the service is offered throughout Pahokee, Belle Glade, and South Bay. A single journey costs only $2. Go Glades is more than simply a convenience for Yovana Hernadez. She claimed that without it, going to the store, the pharmacy, or the laundromat required relying on either her parents or friends.

The Palm Tran Go Glades app for smartphones, which has close to 3,000 users as of now, allows Hernandez and other users to make reservations for the journeys. By calling Go Glades, they can also make a service request. The programme was purchased by the Florida Department of Transportation.

Hernandez remarked, “Before this service was available, I sometimes had to wait a week or even more to get out.” This is fantastic that they did. I don’t have a car, and many others here also don’t. Todd Bonlarron, the assistant county administrator, declared that “it has obviously taken off.” We will investigate whether the initiative may be extended to other parts of the county because we are really happy with it.

A key question going forward: What’s the cost to Palm Beach County?

County commissioners requested Palm Tran to estimate the price of running the programme internally rather than through a private vendor as it is currently done. The company’s transportation planner, WSP, located near Tampa, said last month that continuing to contract out the work to a private company is the wiser choice.

If Palm Tran conducted the programme directly in 2023, it would cost $3.3 million as opposed to $1.4 million to hire the private company. Reduced labour expenses and increased flexibility to change routes would account for a large portion of the cost savings from outsourcing the operation. The present agreement ends on December 31.

The request from Palm Tran to publish a call for proposals for a two-year contract that will start when the present contract expires was approved by the county commissioners in August. Bidders will be encouraged by the bid criteria to include more competitive pay and benefits in their proposals. The Palm Tran maintenance facility in Belle Glade should be accessible to the winning bidder.

In recent years, the county has been forced to utilise a growing portion of its property tax money to help pay for Go Glades. Its portion is anticipated to increase to more than $900,000 in FY 2022, which is three times what it was in FY 2021. Bonlarron informed the county commissioners that he is optimistic about securing more state and federal monies.

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