Broward County Transit (BCT) has one of the best and most productive public bus systems in the nation, transit director Tim Garling told County Commissioners on May 10 at the fourth Best of Broward presentation series.
Best of Broward is presented monthly at the beginning of a County Commission meeting and showcases a noteworthy county project or program.
“When you combine our fixed bus routes, community buses and Paratransit service, BCT provides close to 40 million rides each year," Garling told commissioners, according to a statement from BCT.
“BCT plays a large role in the future economic development, livability and sustainability of our county and region,” Garling said.
BCT strategies for meeting the future transit needs of the community include attracting new commuters to the bus system, promoting energy efficiency, connecting with passengers through smart phones and other technology and providing for rider safety, comfort and convenience. "We're working hard to attract the next generation of transit riders," Garling said.
With regard to improvements in the system, Garling cited the following:
• Two new Interstate 595 Express routes from southwest Broward to downtown Fort Lauderdale and Miami are scheduled to start in early 2012. New Interstate 95 Express Route service from southwest Broward County to downtown Miami and the Miami Civic Center area “has been highly successful.” Since the service began in January, ridership has increased 126 percent to more than 450 rides per day. These popular routes use 60-foot-long articulated buses with Wi-Fi capabilities and hybrid diesel engines that reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
• BCT was the first transit system in South Florida to introduce Google Transit to assist riders with online trip planning.
• Social media has been incorporated to appeal to a wider audience. A Facebook page provides frequent system updates and information of interest to customers. A BCT YouTube site includes an informative new "Go Green" video that shows the environmental benefits of using public transportation.
• "Real Time" bus information will be available via handheld devices, laptops and personal computers by 2013.
• Easier ways to pay a bus fare are in the works. Garling said plans include a fare payment system in which commuters can use a bank card or even a mobile phone to purchase trips on the BCT system.
• New customer comforts and conveniences are on the horizon. A $23 million construction program calls for an additional 680 new bus shelters by 2014, bringing the total to 1,177 countywide.
Also, a new Northeast Transit Center will open this fall at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Dixie Highway in Pompano Beach. Future construction projects will include a major renovation at the Ravenswood Bus Facility in Dania Beach, a Park and Ride lot at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise and an updated transfer facility at the Lauderhill Mall in Lauderhill.
“Technology is key to our future,” Garling said, “but the strength of Broward County Transit has been and always will be its employees. We are all here to get you there.”
For more information on Broward County Transit, visit www.broward.org/bct. To view the Best of Broward presentation on BCT, visit www.broward.org/newsmakers.