A pair of shiny new People Mover buses hit the streets of the Village in January, giving residents a new way to get around town.
The buses initially are designed to offer parents who live within a two-mile radius of area schools a transportation alternative to the automobile and reduce traffic congestion. However, the pilot program may evolve into a transit option for all residents that would make it easier to commute around the village and reduce the area’s carbon footprint.
“We surveyed residents and asked them if we offered this kind of transportation would they use it and we received a very encouraging response,” said Village Mayor Cindy Lerner. “It is a great convenience for working parents who now will not have to rush to pick up their kids at school, yet know they will be able to get home safely. Eventually we hope to make the program available to seniors and all residents doing business around the village.”
Funding for the People Mover buses comes from Miami-Dade County’s Peoples’ Transportation Plan established in 2002 with a percentage of tax dollars allocated to all cities for use on transit projects.
“Twenty percent of the allocated tax revenue is restricted to transit,” said Mayor Lerner. “The intent is to encourage the city to create their own smaller transit system to ultimately connect with county pathways and reduce congestion on the streets.”
According to Lerner, before she took office, the accrued transit money amounted to a half-million dollars, but it was lost under the use-it-or-lose-it rule and Lerner did not want to see history repeated.
“Before I was elected, the county audited all the cities and saw that the people’s transportation tax in Pinecrest came to half-million dollars and they took it back because it was not spent,” she said. “When I was elected I said that was criminal, that there is no way we should allow that money to go to other cities when we have never attempted to use it here.”
The Village hired a consultant to examine density issues. Survey indicated that major traffic corridors experience congestion around schools in the morning and early afternoon, before and after school. Survey respondents indicated that a transportation option for students such as the People Mover buses would be utilized.
“We are now getting requests from seniors to make the buses available in the middle of the day and we hope to eventually expand the route so they can travel to and from the community center and the grocery store,” said Lerner. “This is a great additional resource for the community. We are showing the importance of using transit options in the Village to understand that we do not have to get in our car for every little stop around town.”
The two people mover buses operating daily in the morning and early afternoon are being leased until June in cooperation with another municipality. The program will be evaluated and a decision made on buying buses and hiring full-time drivers.
For more information, call Angela Gasca at 305-234-2121, email <firstname.lastname@example.org> or visit the Village website at www.pinecrest-fl.gov.