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Deerfield Beach transit option study : executive summary : recommendation demonstration for park and ride service

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Title:
Deerfield Beach transit option study : executive summary : recommendation demonstration for park and ride service
Physical Description:
Book
Language:
English
Creator:
Deerfield Beach (Fla.). Office of City Manager
University of South Florida. Center for Urban Transportation Research
Publisher:
Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR)
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Fringe parking--Florida--Broward County--Deerfield Beach   ( lcsh )
Local transit--Florida--Broward County--Deerfield Beach-- Evaluation   ( lcsh )
Local transit--Florida--Broward County--Deerfield--Planning   ( lcsh )
Traffic congestion-- Florida--Broward County--Deerfield Beach   ( lcsh )
Genre:
letter   ( marcgt )

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University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
usfldc doi - C01-00090
usfldc handle - c1.90
System ID:
SFS0032208:00001


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CUTR CITY DEERFIELD BEACH FLORIDA .---------------------------DEERFIELD BEACH TRANSIT OPTION STUDY Executive Summary Recommendation for Demonstration of Park and Ride Service April1995

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT The Center for Urban Transponation Research (CUTR) has been approached by the City of Deerfield Beach to help develop transportation methods for alleviating traffic congestion and parking problems at the beach. The following CUTR staff helped in the research and preparation of this technical memorandum. CUTR Director: Project Manager{s): Staff Support: Gary L. Brosch Eric Hill, Research Associate Joel Volinski, Senior Research Associate Vic!cy Perk, Research Associate Tony Rodriguez, Graduate Research Assistant Suzi D i eringer Graduate Research Assistant Shelly Happle, Graduate Research Assistant Martin Catala, Graduate Research Assistant

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TABLE OF CONTENTS P urpose of Study ... ............. ........ . ..... ..... , . . . 1 Swve y of Other Beach Comm unities ............. ._ .. .... .... ... . 1 Swvey of Beach Users ............................................. 3 Other Observations . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Recommendations for Mitigating Beach Traffic Problems at the Beach ...... ........ 9 Figure I. Figure 2. Figure 3. Figure 4 Figure 5. LIST OF FIGURES Is there a traffic problem at the beach? .......................... 4 Is there a parking problem at the beach? ................ ...... : 5 Use transit service from a mainland parking facility every ten minutes ..... 6 Use transi t from a parking facility on the mainland every 30 minutes . . 7 Proposed shuttle route . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 II

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Purpose of Study The City of Deer field Beach is quite fortunate to have a beautiful beach as its most impo rtant natural asset. This popular beach attracts not only Deerfield's citizens but residents of neighbo ring cities and tourists from around the world The only direct access from the west to the beach on the barrier islan d is provided by County Road 810 (Hillsboro Boulevard) whic h inclu des a drawbridge over the intracoastal waterway. Over the years, demand for beach access has caused traffic bottlen ecks on both sides of the bridge, as well as alleged p arking capacity problems at the beach In August 1994, Deerfield Beach enter ed into an interlocal agreement with the University of South Florida. The purpose of this agreement was to jointly fund a study t o id ent ify alternative means of reducing traffic and parking problems associated with the beach. The study was performed by the University's Cente r for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR). Cu:TR's research revolved around two major activities. The first was to surv ey a number o f other beach communiti es in the State to determine how they dealt with the ir traffic problems. Particular emphasis was put on researching transit alternatives that had been implemented. The second major ac tivity was to survey people who used Deerfield's beach to determine beach use patterns and people's pereeptions of transportation problems associated with the beach The survey was als o int ended to determine if people would use a convenient transit servi c e to access the beach. Two surveys were performed T he first was co nducted o n a Thursday in Decem ber 1 994, the second on a S aturday in February 1995. Both da y s featured beautiful weather, and bot h were during the winter season when beach use is at its height. Survey of Other Beub Commun ities The survey of other beach communi t ies involved discussions with representatives of 15 coastal communi ties through out the State that experi ence similar uansporta t ion demands to their beaches. Regr ettably, there were few l esso ns to be learned from most of these o the r communities. As in 1

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Deerfield, limited land space hinders opportunities for improving traffic circulation by incr easing capacity on local roads Som e cities resolved parking deficiencie s by providing more parking facilities. However, increasing the supply of parking tends to encourage automobile travel to the beach, which results in greater traffic congestion Thus, increasing parking alone crea t es an imbalance. A nwnber of the cities surveyed benefit from some sort of transit service to their beach. Most of these beach communities are served by traditional transit provided by the local or county transit system. Some provide a more distinctive rubber-wheeled, open-air trolley service. In almost all cases, service is provided only once an hour, with an average regular fare of$1.00 per one way trip. In many cases, these transit services are not even provided on Sundays, which is a major daY. for beach usc This minimal level of transit service is not sufficient to anract enough people to noticeably reduce traffic congestion. The fares also serve as a barrier to use, particul arly for beach-going parties with three or more people. Ridership averages approximately 200 passengers per day in such communities. In many such instances, the trolley is in service to promote a beach-city image rather than alleviate traffic One notabl e exception occurs in Ft. Myers on the west coast of Florida. Lee County Transit oper ates free rubber tire trolley service to the ft. Myers beach on a frequent basis (every IS minutes) during the winter season. The demand for parking at the beach greatly exceeds the supp ly, and access to the beach is only available on a TWO lane road (with a middle lane for left hand nuns). Traffic can easily back up for five miles, and a trip to or from the beach often exceeds TWO hours to travel five miles. Park and ride lots on the main l and are colorfully marked and free. Given the intense traffic, limit ed beach parking and free transit alternatives use of the trolleys is substantial Over 3,500 passengers per day are carried during the winter season and 2 ,500 per day during the off-seaso n. Ft. Myers ci rcumstances do not perfectly parallel Deerfield's because road capacity is very l imited and traffic at Ft. Myers' beach is incredibly bad However, Ft. Myers' example still illustrates that convenient, smartly promoted and free park and ride trolley service can attract beach-going passengers. The survey of other beach communities revealed that Deerfield's parking meter rate of $ .2 5 per 15 minutes is very comparable to those rates charged throughout the state Other communities offe r seasonal parking permits to non-residents at considerably higher rates than resid ents. This can generate additional income for the city which could be used to he lp pay for the expe nse of 2

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a shuttle service or othec transportation improvemen!S. Some communities also offered grea ter conveniences to auto users such as lot parking with attendants that precluded the need for people to have change and make frequent trips to feed the parking meter. Survey of Beach Users As noted above, surveys of beach users were conducted on two different days of the week during the winter season. The intent of the surveys was to find out: who used the beach; patterns of beach use; perceptions of traffic and parking conditions associated with the beach; and if a demand exists for a transit alternative to access the beach. Over 300 beach users gladly cooperated in responding to the survey which was administered by CUTR and City of Deerfield representatives. In general, the survey results revealed the following major points Over 75 percent of beach users were not permanent residents of Deerfield Beach. Over 60 percent of the non-residents considered themselves seasonal visitors, the majority of whom stay for more than four weeks. The December survey showed that 86 percent of people accessed the beach by car. w h i l e 74 percent did so in February. Almost all others walked to the beach. Parties going to the beach most commonly have two people (57 percent in December and 45 percent in February). Between 20 and 33 percent of all parties are comprised of three or more people The average l ength of time spent at the beach is approximately three hours. 3

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Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed on Thursday in December felt there were !!Q traffic problems associated with the beach. Eleve n percent believed there was a consistent traffic problem, while another 30 percent believed that sometimes there were traffic problems. Forty-ei ght percent of those surveyed on Saturday in February felt there were !!Q traffic problems associated the beach. However, 37 percent believed there was a consistent traffic problem, while another IS percent felt that sometimes there were l.(affic problems. 4

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Fifty percent of those surveyed in December believed there were no parking problems at the beach. Twenty-three percent believed there was a cons istent problem with parking, while 27 percent felt parking was sometimes a problem. Only 38 percent of those surveyed in February believed parking was not a problem. Fifty percent believed it was a consistent problem, while 12 percent indicated parking was sometimes a problem. Figure 2 [ti your opinion, is there a parking problem for people at the beach? Thurs Sat. Yes No Sometimes 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% SO% 5

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Both surveys revealed that 64 percent of all survey respondents would not use a transit service from a park and ride lot on the west side of the Intracoastal to access the beach, even if it ran every l 0 minutes and was free. Many people regard their cars as their "home base" at the beach, in which they carry coolers, roller blades, beach fumitll(e, cloths. etc. Large parties with children arutious .tQ get to the beach may not want to transfer from car to shuttle with the attendant waiting time. Senior citizens might not want to climb up and down the steps of a trolley. Most Deerfield residents prefer to take advantage of conveniently located sticker parking On the other band, 36 percent of respondents indicated they would use such a service even if there was a fare. Free $.25 $.50 S.7S Wouldn't use Figure J .If transit service were operated from a puking facility on the l"ff3.1nland to rhe beach every ten mmutes., would you use me service if the fare for a oile-way trip is:? Thur. J Sat. 0% 20% 40% 6()% 80% 6

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Both surveys revealed that 83 perc e nt of all survey respondents would !!Q1 u se transit s ervice operated every 30 minutes from locations further west such as Military Trai L $.50 $.75 $.85 Wouldn't use Figure 4 If tnnsit service were operated from locations in the City of Deerfield Beach (i.e. shopping centers along ffill.sboro Blvd., Federal Hwy., and Military T!"l). to the beach every 30 would you use the servsce 1 the fare for a one-way tnp LS: ? Thur Sot. 1 00% 7

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Other Observations In the course of conducting the survey and observing traffic ci r culation patterns over many visits to the beach, CUTR' s representatives noted that even on the days of heaviest beach usage traffic did not s tart becoming congested until after !0:30am. Not surpris ingly, the largest contributing f actor to traffic congestion on Hillsboro Boulevard and SR AlA is the opening of the bridge over the Intracoastal This bridge opens on the hour twenty minutes after the hour and forty minutes after the hour. East bound traffic on Hillsboro Boulevard would back up for more than a half-mile when the bridge was up. In the afternoons, north-bound traffic on SR AlA would back up for a mile. The worst time for traffic congestion was between I :OOam and 4:00pm when people are going to and leaving the beach. The total quantity of parking did not seem to b e a problem. Even on the busiest d ays metere d parking was available on si d e streets, while free parking was available near the park .at 5th Street west of SR AlA. This observation was corroborated by city parking enforcement personnel who work on the beach every day. Certain conditions might contribute to a perceived parking problem. One prominent parking lot on the beach, north of I st Street, is barely visible (behind hedges), and signage for directing people to additional parking is almost non-existent. This is compounded by the jog in Ocean Way between 4th and 6th streets. Those unfamiliar with t he b e ach and heading south on Ocean Way might not know the public beach (with additiona l parking ) extends further south than 4th Street. The major conveniences and attractions at the beach are available near the pier at the n orth e n d o f the beach The pier also serves as a l andmark for those who will meet other people. contributing to even more concentrated traffic at the north end of the beach. Consequentl y, parking at the north end of the beach was always full while parking further south (particularly on side streets) was always avaHable. The beach i s not a particularly friendly environment for bicyclists. There are very few bike racks a t the beach, and no bike path designated o v er the bridge

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Recommendations for Mitigating Beach Traffic Problems at the Beach Based on survey results and on-site observations of parking and traffic circulation, it is clear that traffic congestion is not an all-day, everyday problem at Deerfield's Beach. Traffic congestion occurs primarily during weekends of the winter season,. with the worst conditions occurring between I 0:30am and 4:30pm. The total availability of parking is not a significant problem. However, people either prefer to park near the north end of the beach, or are unaware of other parking opportunities, particularly toward the south end of the beach. There are vacant parcels of land that c ould be purchased and used for parking, but CUTR would recommend against taking such valuable land off the tax ro les without first tryi ng other solutions targeted to correcting the problems that only take place at certain times of the day, week and year. Thus, the following recommendations should be considered by the City of Deerfield Beach. Recommendation #1 The bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway on Hillsboro Boulevard is the single most significant cause of traffic congestion related to the beach. The city should work with the florida Department of Transportation and the U.S Coast Guard to determine if trafftc flow would be improved if bridge openings were limited to once every half hour instead of the present schedule . of opening every 20 minutes. Regardless of what schedule is deemed best, the city should inform the public of the bridge opening schedule through prominent signs on both sides of the bridge. and through every othe r means the city has to provide information to their own res id ent s. This will help people plan their trips to and from the beach around times when the bridge is open to car traffic. thereby reducing bridge-related traffic queues. Recommendation #2 A limited but high quality shunle service should be established between the beach and a park and ride facility on the mainland near U.S. I. This service only needs to be provided on weekends. during the winter season, from I O:OOam to 5:00pm. These hours of operation will address the times when traffic congestion warrants optional methods of accessing the beach, and the limited hours will help minimize the expenses to the c ity 9

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The marketing and packaging of this service is critical to its suc cess. The vehicles used for this s ervice should be very distinctive, brightly colored and open air. Other areas report that beachgoers arc far more attracted to such vehicles than they are to typical city transit buses which tend to be intimidating Open air vehicles are more in keeping with the total beach experience. Passengers with wet bathing suits prefer open air vehicles to air conditioned buses In addition, drivers of such vehicles should be dressed in more colorful, casual and friendl y outfits than nonnal city tranSit operators The colors of the vehicles, driver outfits, bus stops, and signage sh ould be consistent to reinfon:e a theme of coordinated tranSportation improvements fo r the beach. Service should be offered for free to minimize any barriers to its use, at least for the first year. This will provide a competitive cost ad vantage over parking at the beach. Service should a lso be provided no less frequently than once every fifteen minutes, and even more frequently, if possible The city may need to reach an understanding with owners of the centers on the southeast quadrant of U.S. I and Hillsboro Boulevard that beachgoers will park there t o catch the shuttle. Shopping center interests should be aware that the shuttle will make it easier for the thousands of seasonal visitors living east of the bridge to access their shops. People returning from the beach are also likely to shop there. In Ft. Myers, shopping centers pleade d to be used as park and ride locatfons based on the additional business shuttle users generated Hopefully area businesses might further cooperate by offering discounts to people who use the shutt le. It is vitally important to harness and direct the local energy that can make the shuttle a success. In Broward County there are ample examples of c ity shuttle services that have succeeded or failed based on the level of citizen involvement. An advisory committtt of city r esidents and business owners should be established to help plan and promote the service. This sroup could include representatives of the chamber of commerce, beach hotels, shopping centers on U.S I businesses on SR AlA, civic associations, high sch ools city staff, minority int erests Century Village, and o ther civic-miruled sroups The Gold Coast Commuter Services agency can help organize this group free of charge The advisory committee can help promote the service throughout the cicy and develop ideas for marketing the service. Such marketing should be extreme ly f ocuse d to reach the most likely users. Among the more simple and inexpensive techniques would be fliers placed under windshield wipers of cars parked at the beach, info rmation on paper placemats i n restaurants, displays on hotel counters, notices (stuffers) in other city mailings, displays at businesses within shopping centers and brightly co l ored signs on Hillsboro Boulev ard. 10

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The route of the shuttle should follow Hillsboro Boulevard from U S I to SR AlA, north to N.E. 20th Terrace, south on Ocean Way to Hillsboro Boulevard and back to U.S. I. This route will take people to the most popular destinat i on along the beach (the north end) It will also prevent the shuttle from getting stuck in north bound traffic on SR A I A This routing will allow the shuttle to maintain an attractive level of frequency with minimal waiting time for passengers The bus shelter areas at the park and ride location and at the beach should be substantially improved i n a theme consistent with the shuttle vehicle and other signage The proposed shuttle route is presented in Figure 5 I l

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.... : "' . ... a-....... 0 l 1 .. .. ::> .... .l ?-' ..... 0 F i gure 5 Proposed Park and Ride Serv i ce for City of Deerfield Beach Broward County .. "' E Hillsboro Blvd 0.25 0 5 Miles SE 10th St (/) m 1 1 .;f NE2nd Legend L __ ________ _L ____ __I. _____ _,_ _ _ -'-\ ---Pr-roule

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Recommend21ioo #3 The city can app ly for grants from the Florida Department of Transportation to help pay for the costs of operating the shuttle service. There is a chance that funding from FOOT's Service Development Grant Program might be available to pay 50 percent of operational costs. There is also a chance that funding from the Congestion Mitigation/ Air Quality (CMAQ) program could be secured to help pay fo r I 00 percent of this service. Applications for the CMAQ funds will need to quantify the reduction in air pollut ion that wi ll result from ope ra ting the shuttle. However, the city must r ealize the highly competitive nature of such grant programs, particularly at a time when almost all governments are downsizing Therefore, the city should be prepared to assume all expense s and make service provision decisions accordingly. CUTR recommends initially providing service only during the weekends of the winter months, not only to address the worst traffic conditions, but also to minimize expenses of operations. The cost of operating two vehicles on Fridays Saturdays and Sundays from I Oam to 5pm between December and April is estimated to be $28,072 (based on $33.42 per hour per vehicle). Some o f these expenses coul d be defrayed through adverti sin g on the vehicles and at bus shelters, or contributions from business that see benefits from the shuttle's operation. If the shuttle proves successful during .th e wee kends the city could consider providing service during weekdays of the winter season, then weekends during the non-winter seasons. Recommendation H4 Better signage at the beach alerting people to additional parking opportunities could help traffic alo ng Ocean Way move more smoothly. Colorful signs should advise automobile drivers of par king opportunities south of 4th Street and near the park west of SR AlA. The color and design of such signs sho uld be bright and consistent with other signs associated with beach traffic, such as those that note the bridge opening schedules and the signs alerting motorists to park and ride/slluttle opportunities. 13

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Recommendation liS The city can help reduce motorized traffic to the beach by encouraging more people to access the beach by bicycle. Encouraging bike use is consistent with the beach's fundamental nature as a recreation destination. The market for this transportation option is relatively narrow. However, most people riding bikes are younger and most of the younger beachgoers like to use the north portion of the beach where parking is scarce. The city should improve bike rack facilities along the beach including "bike banks" in which bicyclists could store personal belongings. The city should also install bike racks on the shuttle vehicles providing transit to the beach to assist bicyclists in crossing the drawbridge (which has no bikepath). Broward County's Bicycle Program Coordinator could help the city design any improvements and assist the city in applying for Transportation Enhancemen t funds through the Metropolitan Planning Organization. City efforts in promoting greater bicycle use could be assisted by the previously mentioned advisory committee, local papers, civic as.sociations, schools and local businesses. Recommendation 116 The most significant complaints from beachgoers concerned the use of parking meters. People complained of the difficulty of finding change and recommended the placement of change machines at convenient places. Others preferred parking lots with attendants that would negate the need for feeding the parking meters. Others complained of heartless parking enforcement personnel and the steep costs of parking violations. The city might want to experiment with providing change machines in secure facilities or making one of its lots available with an attendant. This would make the beach experience more pleasant for those using their cars However, any actions that make car usage more pleasant might work against the hopes of attracting people to use the shuttle. These are items the city must weigh and balance as it determines exactly how it wants to serve its beach visitors. Recommendation #7 It should also be noted that many people complained of how "disabled stickers" were abused by those parking at the beach. People with such stickers need not pay for parking. There appeared 14

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to be very little relationship between cars with "disabled stickers" and the driver's ability to pay In many cases, non-disabled (very active) people would be seen arriving in cars with such stickers. CUTR recommends the city consider revising its ordinance which allows cars with "disabled stickers" to park for free. The extra money generated through parking revenues could help pay for the shuttle, better bus stops or improved bicycle facilities. Also, the city should consider placing parking meters at the public spaces near the church west of A-1-A and north of 5th Street. Revenues generated from these meters could also go toward the expenses of the shuttle operation or other alternative transportation improvements. 15


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