Friday, May 24

Booming growth has St. Lucie County looking at future transit plans

As our region continues to grow, and traffic continues to build, area transit organizations are trying to figure out how to serve Florida’s growing population.

Adrian Reynoso found himself recently at the Jobs Express bus terminal off Gatlin Boulevard in Port St. Lucie.

His car was out of commission, but a neighbor told him about area transit options.

“It’s really fortunate because I know it’s hard times lately,” Reynoso said.

He was waiting Wednesday for a ride through the county’s Area Regional Transit (ART).

“I’m going to use it while I can,” Reynoso said. “It’s temporary, and it’s a nice stepping stone to get where you need to go especially when you get to where you need to go and better your life.”

Right now, ART is working on its newest five-year transit plan.

Transit director Adolfo Covelli said their biggest challenge is providing transportation for all in a 600-square-mile county.

“We do have transportation on U.S. 1 … and on our busy roads like St. Lucie West and Gatlin Boulevard,” Covelli said. “Our biggest issue is providing in the northwest section of the county, east of U.S. 1 where we don’t have transit options now. We’re trying to fill those voids.”

With its funding reliant on ridership, the transit service went fare-free in 2018, and its numbers tripled.

The following year, it took a page from Uber and Lyft and developed a micro-transit network.

“As long as Point A and Point B, the origin and destination are within that zone, so we do about 4,000 trips here between the two zones,” Covelli said.

A new service called the Port St. Lucie Express is scheduled to kick off in May connecting Port St. Lucie and West Palm Beach. That service will cost $3.

“It’ll have two services in the morning and two services in the evening to downtown West Palm Beach where you can connect with Palm Tran, the Brightline or Tri-Rail,” Covelli said.

Right now, ART is collecting feedback from residents until the end of the month.

Click here if you have a suggestion or a route request.

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