Surtax investments include the acquisition of new vehicles and increased service for fixed route bus, TOPS Paratransit, municipal community shuttles, and studies for transit routes and infrastructure to promote connectivity, facilitate traffic management, and enhance transit services.
As part of the impacts of COVID-19, BCT maintained service during the pandemic, suspending fare collections which are set to resume on June 1, 2021. The fair suspension ensured essential workers and first respondents had access to transportation. As an additional effect of COVID-19, some initiatives planned for 2020 were postponed, including:
- Delayed construction of 88 new bus shelters for late 2020, into 2022
- Postponed construction of 62 new shelters until 2022
- Microtransit pilot program deferred until 2022
- Fixed route service increase is under review, and 131 planned positions deferred
- Service revision and Comprehensive Operational Analysis deferred
With the passage of the transportation surtax, Broward County Transit (BCT) immediately began fixed-route bus service enhancements in 2019, including:
- Restoration of service that was eliminated during the recession (Routes 8 –Taft Street and 88 - Pine Island)
- Increase in bus frequency and expansion of service hours on local routes to meet the needs of customers and requests from the business community (Routes 4, 12, 16, 19, 31, 55, 62, 101)
- Purchase of 65 new fixed-route buses to support these services
- On-board Wi-Fi equipment, mobile ticketing, and a pilot program for free download of music and books from Broward Libraries
- New shelters and local bus infrastructure improvements
Expansion of Service Hours
- 121,000 annual revenue hours of new service were added system-wide in 2019
- New service was deployed during July 2019 (54,000 new service hours) and September 2019 (67,000 new service hours)
- In January 2020, additional new service was deployed (1,300 new service hours), but the scheduled 10% increase in service during May and September 2020 has been put on hold due the COVID-19 pandemic
TOPS! Paratransit Service
The Broward County Commission increased the per trip subsidy for BCT’s Paratransit Rider’s Choice Program from $15 to $18. The Rider’s Choice Program is a pilot program, through January 31, 2021, that allows existing paratransit riders to choose same-day, direct-to-destination taxi service, in lieu of TOPS paratransit service.
Pre-pandemic demand for TOPS! Paratransit Service had been increasing annually for several years, often by double-digit growth. For example, TOPS! Paratransit Service experienced a 13.4% growth in service in 2019. By 2030, Broward’s 60+ population will increase 48 percent; nearly half will be in the 75+ age group. The highest rate of growth will be in the 80-84 age group which is expected to grow by more than 73% by 2030. In response to these ridership trends and future projections, 128 new TOPS Paratransit propane-fueled vehicles were purchased in 2019, and 49 new TOPS Paratransit vehicles were purchased in 2020. These 49 new 2020 vehicles are also programmed for propane conversion in 2021.
Of the 177 Paratransit vehicles purchased with surtax funds, 98 replaced existing vehicles that had exceeded their useful life, and 85 vehicles were purchased to expand the fleet to meet increasing demand. The 85 surtax funded expansion vehicles, along with 13 federally funded vehicles, have increased the Paratransit fleet from 252 vehicles in 2018, to 350 vehicles in 2020.
New Service - Two new Community Shuttle routes will begin in 2021
In addition to the existing program, BCT reached out to all 31 Broward County municipalities in 2019 with an invitation to apply for new or expanded Community Shuttle service. BCT received applications from North Lauderdale, Oakland Park and Plantation. After staff review, one of these proposals met the established criteria and was approved for funding. In 2021, new East and West routes in North Lauderdale will be implemented, including the purchase of three new buses, with the use of funds from the transportation surtax.
Requests for new or expanded service in 2019 were received from several existing Community Shuttle partners including Coconut Creek, Deerfield Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Hallandale Beach. Deerfield Beach’s service application for a route 22 >> Mobility Advancement Program (MAP) - Inaugural Report called “Express 1” was approved for funding. Coconut Creek’s and Hallandale Beach’s service applications are pending further staff review. Fort Lauderdale withdrew its application and will be seeking instead to apply in future years. In 2020, requests for expanded service from existing Community Shuttle partners included Lauderdale lakes and Deerfield Beach. These requests are pending further review.
Vehicle Purchase and Upgrades
In 2020, a total of 30 new buses were purchased for the existing Community Shuttle program. In addition, 3 new buses were purchased for the new expanded East and West routes in North Lauderdale. These 33 new buses will be delivered in early 2021, and they are also scheduled for propane conversion in 2021.
2020 Studies by Broward County Transit Include:
In 2020, BCT began an extensive study and planning phase that includes the analysis, planning, environmental review, preliminary engineering design, and the development of recommendations regarding the phasing and implementation of premium high-capacity transit countywide. The objective is to obtain a final Transit Systems Plan (TSYS) report in twelve (12) to fifteen months. The TSYS will evaluate and determine the feasibility of adopting Rail, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and other modes of transportation into the current transit system. In addition, a service revisioning and Comprehensive Operational Analysis (COA) for existing fixed-route bus service has been postponed due the COVID-19 pandemic. Current studies and planning activities include the following:
Transit Systems Plan (TSYS) - $10.6M
- Conduct a system-wide transit study that will make recommendations and identify the potential 26-mile rail network corridors to be developed, including commuter service
- Conduct an analysis that identifies suitable transit capital and operational investments on major corridors in Broward County and provide recommendations for implementing corridor-based Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or fixed guideway BRT on corridors identified in a system-wide transit study
- Include a comprehensive public participation program, environmental analysis, corridor feasibility and alternatives analysis, market research, strategic planning, financial planning, implementation planning and safety and security
- Provides funding to achieve 30% design completion for one Rail project and one BRT project
General Planning Consultant Services (GPC) - $2M annually for up to 5 years
- The intent of the GPC program is to provide BCT with the expertise and flexibility necessary to carry out planning and study needs on a timely, and “as needed” basis in the following areas: Capital Project Planning and Development; Transportation Planning and Analysis; Environmental Planning; Economic Development Planning; Public Involvement and Outreach; Grants Compliance, Monitoring, and Development; and Organizational Assessment and Review
- Some of the potential products expected include but are not limited to: data collection and passenger surveys; service planning (all modes), analysis and evaluations; intelligent transportation systems planning and engineering (i.e., transit signal priority, autonomous vehicles); field/condition surveys; conceptual designs; funding and financial systems; environmental analysis (per state and federal law); strategic planning/business process development/organizational efficiency; facilities (existing and new; safety and security planning; and rail (service and capital plans)
- Service Revisioning and Comprehensive Operational Analysis (Postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic) - $2M
- Detailed review of existing operations and transit services to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of the system and provide recommendations for BCT’s future system
- Provide practical strategies to enhance service quality for existing and potential customers to increase ridership and productivity; update service and productivity standards; update route and stop-by-stop data; and provide recommendations for financial and operational improvements
- Design transit services not only for BCT’s current services but also new modes such as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems, electric bus technology, autonomous technology, and the feasibility of incorporating Mobility on Demand as a service options for customers
- BCT’s Five-Year Plan includes the continuation of transit improvements including service increase, new vehicles and amenities in fixed routes and paratransit, continuing implementation of Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects, and traffic infrastructure county-wide and for regional development.