Considering gas is averaging close to $5 a gallon, taking a trip to the mall can cost a great deal even before shopping starts, not to mention the hassle of parking, dealing with other drivers and just getting the car AC to kick in during a hot South Florida summer day.
On June 17, 2022, Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia C. Baker, Palm Tran Executive Director Clinton B. Forbes and Transit Ambassador Nicky Brown boarded a clean and very cool, air-conditioned bus to the Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens. It was Dump the Pump Day and along with the 21,000 average daily riders, they took the bus, Route 1, to encourage everyone to leave their cars behind and give transit a try.
“The cost of gas is so high right now and Palm Tran can take you from Boca Raton to Jupiter to Belle Glade and more for just $2 a ride,” Baker said. “It is such a nice way to travel in Palm Beach County and so cost-effective. I enjoyed not needing to navigate traffic, and just sat back and enjoyed the ride.”
In early June, the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners officially declared June 17, 2022, Dump the Pump Day with a proclamation, presented to: Palm Tran, the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency (TPA) and South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRA)/Tri-Rail. National Dump the Pump Day is organized by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and it has gained the support of hundreds of transit agencies throughout the nation. The day is to encourage everyone to try out public transportation instead of traveling by single-occupant vehicles.
“There has never been a better opportunity to give public transit a try than right now with gas prices at historic highs,” Forbes said. “It is a great way to get to where you need to be and even with gas prices up, our bus fare is not. Instead of swiping your card at the pump and paying way too much for gas, get your Paradise Pass, a tap-and-go app and smart card that is easier on your pocketbook.”
As an added incentive in encouraging people to leave their cars behind and take public transit throughout the day, Palm Tran had a one-day promo code, “VALUE,” for new and existing riders to load $6 onto their Paradise Pass smart card or app. Regular bus fare is $2 a ride, with the Paradise Pass having a cap at $5 per day. If taking three or more buses a day, with the Paradise Pass, the most a passenger will spend is $5 each day, the current average cost of a gallon of gas.
The promo code was a success. It was used 519 times on the Paradise Pass app and 36 new users registered a Paradise Pass smart card. Today, there are 14,550 Paradise Pass users. Ridership was higher than average on Dump the Pump Day with 22,398 people transported on Palm Tran’s fixed-route, Connection and Go Glades.
For their bus ride, Baker, Forbes and Brown met up at the Intermodal Transit Center, which is a passenger-friendly station in West Palm Beach that allows riders to connect to nine routes in one convenient location. It is also adjacent to a Tri-Rail station to improve connectivity between public buses and trains.
“I was so pleased to see so many passengers riding the bus and I know why,” Baker said. “Riding Palm Tran is enjoyable, affordable and stress-free. I was very impressed with how clean and cool each bus was, how courteous the drivers were and by the two video screens on each bus filled with information everyone can use, including upcoming stops. I encourage everyone to get a Paradise Pass and take a Palm Tran bus to their next destination.”
Brown, a transit ambassador who provides insight on the rider experience for Palm Tran, said encouraging others to ride the bus helps everyone in the community.
“You get to meet people from all over the county from nurses, students, and various professionals who ride the bus daily,” Brown said. “Riding with Mrs. Baker and Mr. Forbes was an honor because it gave them a true understanding and experience of the transit system and demonstrated to those hesitant, that it is a great way to travel and they should give it a chance.”