Systems Show Ridership Spikes as 2013 Plans Unveiled
[Panama City, Fla.] – The Bay County Transportation Planning Organization (Bay TPO) has wrapped a busy year and continues to roll into 2013 with planned enhancements that will impact both the fixed route and demand response services. Pending funding, planned improvements include:
- Additions to current trolley fleet
- Improvements at trolley stops throughout Bay County
- Exploration of partnering with Google Transit
These upgrade discussions come at a time when 2012 fourth quarter ridership numbers for Bay Town Trolley are showing a 2.4 percent increase as compared to the same quarter in 2011. Likewise, the demand response service, Bay Area Transportation, reported a total of 193,433 rides in 2012 – an increase of more than 5 percent from last year. Both increases chart above preliminary national average ridership growth, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
“To say that 2012 was a very exciting year for us, is an understatement,” said Gene Keen, Chief Administrative Manager for Bay Town Trolley. “During the past 12 months, we have consistently moved full buses throughout the community. With increased demand and loading times, we’ve continued to work hard on maintaining route schedules to get passengers where they need to go. We look forward to continuing to meet this need in 2013.”
The new fleet additions will include five full-length buses, set to arrive and begin operation in spring of 2013. These new vehicles will assist with current overcrowding on some of Bay Town Trolley’s highest traffic routes. Additionally, as part of a continued effort to enhance the rider experience, the Bay TPO is working to improve trolley stops throughout the area. This includes improvements that will make stops compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Perhaps the most exciting improvement for current and potential Bay Town Trolley users is the exploration of partnering with Google Transit. If successful, the system-wide integration would allow riders to easily plan trips using public transportation with the click of a button. Trip planning will give users step-by-step directions, including distance to a nearest trolley stop, route transfers and total travel time.
“We are always working to improve the rider experience and look forward to these exciting enhancements in 2013,” said Vikki Garrett, staff to the Bay County TPO and West Florida Regional Planning Council planner. “These public transportation services in Bay County continue to meet a strong demand in the community. With the support of both riders and non-riders alike, we will continue to blaze a path to mobility and access for all.”
Since just 2008, Bay Town Trolley has experienced a ridership increase of nearly 60 percent. This unprecedented growth, while presenting some obvious challenges, is a remarkable testament to the hard work of local transit operators, planners and administrative staff.
For more information about Bay Town Trolley or Bay Area Transportation, or if you have insight into a trolley stop that needs upgrading, please contact Vikki Garrett of the West Florida Regional Planning Council at 850-332-7976, extension 211.