In 2017, JWA assisted Palm Beach County’s transit agency Palm Tran in the first phase of its Route Performance Maximization (RPM) Initiative, an effort intended to improve the usefulness of the transit system and ultimate stimulate the agency’s ridership.
Since the 1990s, Palm Beach County has been one of Florida’s fastest-growing areas, but bus service has expanded only incrementally in that time. With the emergence of extensive new suburban development in the urban-rural interface, and the continued densification of downtown areas of West Palm Beach and Boca Raton and the US-1 corridor more generally, new transit needs have arisen throughout the County. The first phase of the RPM designed two different Service Concepts illustrating network design changes that could be implemented to better meet these needs using the current resources available to the agency.
As part of this process, JWA delivered:
- A Choices Report, illuminating the trade-offs that Palm Beach County stakeholders and elected officials would need to consider to make if they wished to change their transit system;
- A multi-day Core Design workshop with Palm Tran staff and representatives of key county and municipal planning staffs, where the initial design of each Service Concept was developed.
- A Service Concepts Report, describing each refined conceptual network in detail, including operational cost factors, key outcomes (changes in access to jobs, etc.), and clear maps of the options.
- Presentations to both the agency’s Service Board, and the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners, explaining the process and describing the purpose and content of each service alternative.
In Spring 2018, Palm Tran began seeking public comment on a set of changes based on JWA’s “Coverage” Service Concept. A new network was implemented in October 2018. The new network was designed to maintain existing coverage, and not to concentrate service into fewer, higher-frequency and higher-ridership routes. Yet the streamlining and connection improvements have resulted in a 2% increase in ridership, at a time when ridership is falling on peer systems.