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Highlands County transit development plan

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Title:
Highlands County transit development plan (FY 200304-200708)
Physical Description:
1 online resource (iv, 90, 28 p.) : ill., charts, col. maps. ;
Language:
English
Creator:
Central Florida Regional Planning Council
University of South Florida -- Center for Urban Transportation Research
Publisher:
Center for Urban Transportation Research
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Bus lines -- Planning -- Florida -- Highlands County   ( lcsh )
Local transit -- Planning -- Florida -- Highlands County   ( lcsh )
Genre:
technical report   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )

Notes

Funding:
Performed for Central Florida Regional Planning Council
Statement of Responsibility:
prepared by Center for Urban Transportation Research, College of Engineering, University of South Florida.
General Note:
Title from e-book cover (viewed Aug. 25, 2011).
General Note:
"July 2002."

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University of South Florida Library
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University of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 029016623
oclc - 747837365
usfldc doi - C01-00333
usfldc handle - c1.333
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SFS0032401:00001


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PAGE 1

HIGHLANDS COUNTY TRANSIT DEVELOPMENT PLAN (FY 2003/04 2007/08) Prep a red for: Central Florida Regional Planning Council Prepa red by: Center for Urban Transportation Research College of Engineering University of South Florida Tampa, Florida July 2002 ..

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Chapter 1 DEMOGRAPHI C DATA ........... ........ ... ... ............ .... .... . 1 INTRODUCTION ... . ...... .... ......... .................................. 1 HIGHLANDS COUNTY: AN OVERVIEW ........... ..... ....... 1 HIGHLANDS COUNTY DEMOGRAPHICS ......... ... ... ... . 1 P opulation ... .. ..... ... ......... ..... ... ..... ..... ........ ... .... 1 Housing ... ........ .... ....... .... ...... .. .... ... .... ... ..... ... .... 11 Income and L abor ..... . . . .. ... ... ... . ... ... ... ...... . ... .... 12 ROADWAYS and TRAFFIC ....... . . ............. .............. ... 13 Chapte r 2 PUBLIC INVOLVE MENT .... . ........ ......... . . .... ... .. ...... 15 INTERVIEWS ..... ..... ..... . ... . ..... .... ................. ... ...... 15 D I SCUSSION GROUPS ...... ....... . ............... ... . .......... 1 6 Nu-Hop e ........ ....... .... .. ... . .... .......... ... .... ... ... ..... 1 6 Buttonwood Bay ... ....... .... . .... .......... . .... ... ...... . . 1 7 Local Coordina t ing Board ... ... ................................ 18 SURVEY ...... ........... .... .. ......... .... ... ... ... .. ... . . ....... ... 1 8 Dem o graphic Dala .... ............ ........ . ... ..... . . ......... 19 Mode of T ransportat i on ... ... .. ... ... ... ..... ...... ........... ... 1 9 Use of Pub li c Trans it... ... .................. ... ... ....... ....... 19 Summary . ... ... ... .. ........... .... ..... ... ...... ... ... .. . ........ 22 Chapte r 3 EXISTING TRAN SPORTAT ION SERVICES .. . .... ........ 23 TRANSPORTAT I ON DISADVANTAGED ..... ... ..... ..... .. 23 CTC Trend Analysis ... ... .. .... . .... .... . ....... ... .... .. ... ... 23 C T C Peer Rev iew A n a l ysis ... ... .................. . ... ... ... 2 5 C hapter 4 BUS SERV ICE O PTIONS AND CASE SAMPLES .... . 29 SERVICE OPTIONS . .. ...... . ..... .............. .... ... ..... .. ..... . 29 Rou ting .............. ...... . ... .......... . ... . .... .................. 29 Scheduling ... ..... ..... ..... ........ ... .............. .... ... ... .... 30 Seniice Comb inat ions ......... . .......... . ... ................ 31 H i ghlands County Transit D evel opm e nt P l an

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CASE SAMPLES ......... ....... ... . .... ..... .... ................... . 32 Nevad a County, Nevada .. .. ... .. . ... ... ... . ..... ... ......... 33 V enan g o Co u n ty, Pen n sylvan i a .......... ....... ........... 34 D i ckey Cou nty North Da k ota ..... .................... 34 Charlotte County Flo ri da . ... . ..... ..... ..... ........ . . ..... 3 5 City of Westbrook, Ma ine ......... ............... .... ... .... ..... 36 City of Gothenburg Sweden .... ... .. ...................... .... 36 Chapter 5 SERVICE ALTERNATIVES ............ .... ...... .... ................ 39 F IXED ROUT E SERVICE ....... ........ .... ..... .. .... ...... ........ 39 Deviated Fixed-Route ..... .. ................. ..................... 40 Fixed Route with Point Deviation .... ........ .... .... ...... .. 41 DEMAND RESPONSIVE ........... . ... .... ..... .... ............... 41 D ialA R i de ............................ ............. .................. 4 2 FEEDER S E R VICE ...... .......................... ...................... 4 2 J I TNEYS ....... ..... ... ............................................... ........ 4 3 VOLUNTEER TRANSPORTATION PROGRAMS ..... ... 44 RIDESHARING .... .... ... . .... ... ...... ...... .... .......... ... .... ... .... 45 Carpools .................... .... . .. ........ .. .. .... .................... 46 Commuter Vanpools ................................. .... ... ... ... 47 Agency Van pools .... ........ .. .................. .... ........ ........ 48 Guaranteed Ride Home Programs ......................... 48 SUBSCRIPTION BUS SERVICE ......... ... ...... .... ... ......... 48 COMMUNITY BUS SERVICE .... .... .. ... ..... .... ...... .. .... .... 49 SUBS I DIZED TRANSPORTAT I ON ................... .......... .49 Use r-Si d e S u bsidy .................................................. 4 9 Emp loyer-Provid ed Subsid ies .... ......... .................... 50 Chapter 6 GOALS AND OBJECTIVES ......... .. ....... ....................... 57 Chapter 7 FUNDING OPTIONS .. .. ........... .. ............... .... .... ............ 59 i i High l ands County T ransit Develo p men t Plan

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C hapter S R IDERSHI P D E MAN D ................ ............. .... .. ............. 67 . TYPES OF DEMAND ... ......... ....... 67 DEMAND ESTIMATES . .... ... . .... ...... .... ..... ........ . ....... 68 TRANSPORTATION DISADVANTAGED ... ........ .... . ... 70 Cha pter 9 SERV IC E RECO MMEN DAT I ONS an d FI N AN CI A L PLAN . .... .... .... .............................. ..... ... 77 SERVICE OVERVIEW . ............................ .. .... ..... ...... 77 Vehi cles ............... ... ............................. . ..... .... . ..... 78 Fare ... ... ................................... ............. ... ........ .. 78 S i gnage and Amenities .. .... ............ . .............. ...... 81 Markeling .... ................ . . ..... ............. ... .... . ..... ... ... 81 Operations .................. .. ...... ... ... ...... ...................... 81 MANAGEMENT ACTIVITIES ...... .... ... ..... . ..... ........ .... 81 Overall Management ... ... .... ...... ..... ... ... ................ 81 Day to-Day Opera t ions ... .... ........... ............... ...... 82 Recommendat i on ............................................ ... . 84 TRANSIT OPERATION PLAN ... ... ........... ........... .... ...... 84 PERFORMANCE MONITORING PROGRAM ... ......... 85 Operational Object ives ......... ...... ............... ....... . 85 Performance I ndicators ........................................... 85 Performance Guide li nes ................ ............. ..... ..... 86 FINANCIAL PLAN .. ................. ... .... . . .. ... ............. ... ... 87 Highlands County Transit Development Plan iii

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iv Highlands County Transit Development P l an

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INTRODUCTION In order to plan for a public transportation system, it is essen t ia i to gain an understanding of the environment within which the system is operating. Following a descriptive overview of Highlands County, Chapter One analyzes the d emographi c and economic conditions of the county, as well as social and political conditions. HIGHLANDS COUNTY: AN OVERVIEW Highlands County is located in Central F lorida and occu p ies a total area of 1,107 square miles (1,0291and; 78 water). It is located northwest of Lake Okeechobee and is bordered by Okeechobee, DeSoto, Glades, H ardee, and Polk counties. Highlands County was established from a portion of DeSoto County in 1921 and named for its r olling countryside. There are three incorporated areas in Highlands: Avon Park, Lake Placid and Sebring. Sebring is the county seat. Their most well-known event is the "12 Hours of Sebring" auto race, which is the oldest major roa d race. It takes place at the Sebring International Raceway, located at the Sebring Airport. This race brings international recognition and is an annual March ritual. Highlands County is also home to Highlands Hammock State Park, l ocated west of Sebring. It prov i des visitors with a look at Florida in Its natural state as well as hiking and camping opportunities. HIGHLANDS COUNTY DEMOGRAPHICS Population According to the 2000 U S Census, H ighlands County has a population of 87,366, ranking it 34"' in the State The most populous city is Sebring (9,667 people), followed by Avcin Park (8,542) and Lake Placid (1,668). Highlands County increased nearly 28% from Its 199 0 population of 68.432, compared with an overall State Increase of 23.5%. (See Table 1.1.) It should be noted that the substantial increase in Lake Placid's popula tion is mainly attributable to the city's annexation of unincor porated areas. Highlands County Transit Development Plan 1

PAGE 7

Table1. 1 Population Growth and Den1 lty Highlands 68, 432 87.3M Z7.1% 84. 9 A-.Pal1< 8 ,042 8.5 6.2'11 ,. l.al
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Figure 1.4 Chan1J8 i n Popu.lation and Housing (1990. 2000) 50.0% 40.0% .J-----30.0% -l-,----20.0% 1 0.0% -10.0% j aPopulatlon a Housing I Fcir information purposes, 12.1% of the population in Highlands County identifies its ethnidty as Hispanic, compared to 16.8% of Flor ida's total population. Dispersion is shown in Map4. Housing Available housing is ano ther indicator of population growth and a measurement of economic growth. One way t o look at it is to compare popu l ation growth to housing growth, by dividing the actual population increase by average househo l d size. In Highlands County, the populat ion inc reased by 18,934 (27.7%) between 1990 and 2000. The average Highlands County household in 2000 cons ist ed of 2.3 people, resulting in an increase of 8,232 households. The actual increase in housing units was 8, 732, for a total of 48,846 or 21.8%. Florida experienced an increase of 19 7% in housing A look at these statist i cs for each municipality, as shown in Table 1.3, can provide more detailed insi ght regarding growth Tabl e 1 .3 Housing Units rR ::.,r .. _. .. : > Highlands County 40,114 48,846 21.8% Avon Park 3 ,964 3 ,916 1 .2% Lake Placid 587 776 32.2% Sebring 4,999 5,024 .5% Florida 6,100,262 7,302,947 19. 7% As shown in F igure 1.4, Lake Placid experienced the highest population growth rate (44%), and accordingly, exper ienced the highest increase in housing units (32.2%). At the same t i me, Avon Park saw nominal population growth, and actually had a decrease in housing units It is also helpfu l to review housing occupancy rates for moni toring efficiency. (See Table 1.4.) Table 1.4 Housing 0C(;upancy Rates .. "if;.---. .,- 'i li':, t'l 1 ,, .'.' tf r-j '' .. ":-,.._ )-,_f,c:;:, .... ..:._, :..,..,..M.L;..._ ..... Highlands County 73.7% 76.7% 3.0% Avon Pall< 79. 6% 822% 2.6% Lake P lacid 78.4% 83.2 % 4.8% Sebring 79.7% 79.0% -0.7% Florida 84.2% 86.8% 2 6% Highlands County Transit Development Plan 11

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Income and Labor The compilation and reporting of 2000 Census information is currently incomplete. As such, it is necessary to rely upon other sources for information, albeit less detailed. Information regarding income and labor was o bt a i ned from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. This information is only available on a per capita. countywide basis. The 1999 per capita personal income (PCPI) for Highlands County was $23,734. This PCPI ranked 26"' in the State, and was 85% of the State average of $27,781, and 83% of the national average of $28,546 The 1 g99 PCP I reflected an increase of 5 9% from 1998. The 1998-99 State change was 3 .2% and the nationa l change was 4 5%. The larges t employment industries In 1999 were serv i ces (24.9% of earnings), farm (18 8%), and state and local government (14.2%). The slowest growing industry from 1998 to 1999 was retail t rade (increasing only 1.1% ); the fast est was farm (a 61.6% increase}. When reviewing changes over the past ten years (1989-99), High l ands County had a PCPI of $16,279 in 1989, with an average annual growth rate over the past ten years of 3.8%. The average annual growth rate for the State was a l so 3.8%, and the nation experienced a 4.4% inc r ease in PCPI. In 1989 the largest industries were the same as in 1999: serv i ces (20.1% of earnings); farm (18.3%); an d state and local government (14.6%). In 1989, retail trade accounted for 14.2% of earnings in Highlands County; but in 1999, only 11.6% of earnings were attributable to retail. The s l owest growing industry over the past ten years was construction increasing at an average annua l rate of 0.6%; the fastest was agricultural services, whi ch i ncreased at an average annual rate of 11.5% According to the Florida Research and Econom i c Database (FRED), the High l ands County civilian labor force in 2001 was 26,375. Their 2001 annual unemployment rate was 5.4 compared to Florida s 4.3%. Tab le 1 5 disp l ays the populat i on 16 years and ol der in the labor force and the percentage of c i vilian labor fo r ce who are employed. Ton Largest Private Sect<>< Employers In Highla nds County Em p lover Florida Hospitals Highlands Reg. Med. Ctr. lSCO (FOfli l izers) Lake P l acid Growers Ben Hill Griffin (Citrus) Georgi a Pacific LinPa<:: P l ast'c Sprint Communications Twyford Plant Labs Cargill Citro Pure Source: Number of Emoloyees 1,099 400 200 165 150 135 130 120 85 83 Service Industry I ncludes: Hotels and other Jod g ing p laces Personal services Business services Auto repair, oorvi<:es and parking Miscellaneous repa i r services Motion pictures Amusement and recreation services Health services Legal services Educational services Social services MemOOrship organizations Other services Table1.5 Empl oyment Characteristics tt iohlands 26 375 94.6% F l orida 7.763 .000 95 .7% 12 Highlands County Transit Development Plan

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. ROADWAYS and TRAFFIC of Service (LOS) is a qualitative of the flow cif traffic. LOS is measured by driver satosfactoon using a scale of "/>:' to "F" with "A" representing the most favorable driving conditions, and "F representing the least favorable driving conditions All of the local comprehensive plans in Highlands County have identified a standard Level of Service c for principal arterials meaning that LOS D, E and F are unacceptable The Highlands County Engineering Department indicates that there is little congestion and only a few road segments showing unfavorable levels of service. Their Comprehensive Plan (rev. 8/2000) has a map depicting the roadway Levels of Service in 2010, with funded improvements. U.S. Hwy 27 remains congested in places throughout Highlands County, even after improvements. The following roads show Levels of Service "D" or below on limited, specific sections: County: US Hwy 27 Sebring: SR Hwy 17 S Lakeview Drive Sparta Road Hammock Road (CR 634) Avon Park: SR 64 (East of US 27) The Highlands County Comprehensive Plan essentially recognizes that nearly every loca l trip must access us 27 Many objectives and policies support the development of a roadway system that will alleviate unnecessary travel on US 27, including frontage roads and a better system of cross access between properties located on us 27. In general, travel in and through Highlands County is not tim e consuming; however, the large amount of truck traffic creates an atmosphere that can be uncomfortable and intimidating to many drivers. Highlands County Transit Development Plan 13

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14 Highlands County Transit Development Plan

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One component of the TOP i s to assess the current situation in Highlands County and determine if any additional transporta tion plans should be made. One method of doing this Is to ascertain the opinions, perceptions, and atutudes of the community regarding public transportation. Three different means were used to capture this information: interviews. discussion groups, and a public survey. INTERVIEWS Local officia l s and area leaders h ave insight in to the commu nity's view Elected officials are respons ib le for short and long-range policy formulation and the allocation of any funding that may be ne eded to support a local public transportation system. Other leaders have a good gauge on the perceptions and opinions of their constituents clients, and employees, which could be indicative of public support for transportation r elated issues. The review committee compiled a list of elected officials and community leaders rep resenting Highlands County and its municipalities. CUTR staff conducted ten interviews in January 2002. (A list of interviewees, questions asked, and responses are inc luded in Appendix A.) This section sum marizes the results of those interviews Please note that this is a summary of wha t people said and may not necessarily reflect accurate representations. Overall, i nterviewees agree that there is a need for public transportation. Many noted that residents normally rely on volunteers from the church or tax icab service for transporta t io n. Some residents own cars, but safety is an issue particu larly with elderly drivers, given the heavy truck traffic on Highway 27. A=rding to most of those interviewed, public transportation would assist in alleviating the local mobility problem Y et, most of the interviewees were skeptical of the success of public transportation in Highlands County. A few people said that a transportation system was in place four to five years previously that had not succeeded. They attributed this failure to sprawl. These interviewees proposed a demand response public transportation system that would benefit everyone in the community. One person stated that due to the large elderly population, public transportation in Highlands should be user friendly comfortable and easily accessible. When asked about potential users of public transportation, the Interviewees suggested that the majority of users would be the elderly. One official stated that the older age group would ride Highlands County Transit Development Plan 15

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it the most; however, every age group would have the potential for ridersh i p Anothe r said that people would use it. The majority of the users wou l d be winter residents retirees mobile home park residents and those living in communities such a s Thun derbird Hills and W as hington Heights A ll of the I ntervie w ees were aske d whether or not the community w ould sup port a public transportation system The majority expressed skepticism of a system be i ng supported financially by the co unty or cities. and many r ecommended fede ral and state f unding. One person thought the community would support a syste m in theory but not i n dollars Another person felt that ten years ago the r e was no support for some thing sim ilar but spec ulated that they may be ready now Another suggested that getting the necessary fund ing must be a sales pitch a nd will require a good dea l of public education, since Highlands County i s v ery conservative and w ary of government and taxes. This interviewee also felt that publ i c transportation I s benefiCial and needed in the loca l commun ity. Intervi ewees also contributed their opinions on the viability of a High lands County public tran sit system. They peroelved the need for such a transit system. but cautioned that the syst e m should be small and geared towards serving local residents I n addition. all of the interviewees express their s k epticism of the system rece iv ing financial support from Highlands County The p revailing se ntiment is one favoring federal aid I n li eu of lo ca l contribution. DISCUSSION GROUPS The review committee also provided information regarding local group meetings that CUTR a ttended during the month of February 2002 in order to gain input. Nu-Hope Nu-Hope Is the loca l agency for aging under the Department of Elder Affairs. In attendance were representatives of a variety of elderty services, such as American Association for Retired People, and many loca l organizations such as hospice retire ment communities. nursing facilities, health organi lations, and overall welf are of senior citizens. Many of the representa tives had used publi c transportation in other cities, for a va r i ety o f reasons Some peop l e us ed transit to get aroun d a l arge city when visiting, and some grew up in larger cities and took advantage of transportation alternatives b e cause there was one or no cars In the household. Most of them had positive experienoes; however. those who were from smaller towns and used transit while visiting a larger city experienced the 16 Highlands County Transit Development P lan

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most anxiety. ; They. were afraid of the hustle and bustle, sometimes felt overwhelmed, and were fearful of asking for help. At the same t ime, they indicated that it was better than driving around i n an unfamiliar p l ace. Despite its growth Highlands County functions like a small town where people help people. There is a good deal of people in the community who transport those who are not able to tra(lspor1..th.emselves. But when the "sn owbirds go home for lhe sliiiimer, many seniors l ose their transportation. Addi tiona lly, in the last several years, the number of volunteer drivers has reduced dramatically, because they are afraid of potential liability. All of the representatives expressed a good deal of concern regarding elderly drivers. Many of them drive when they are not p hysica lly or mentally able, because they feel there is no alternative. They know of several clients who dri ve without a license or in surance. This problem is compounded by large volume, Increased speed, and truck traffic o n US Highway 27 In fact, they feel that the most critical issue regarding el derly drivers is the unsafe conditions on US Highway 27, which is virtually unavoidable when traveling in Highlands County. The representatives also praised the Transportation Disadvantaged prog ram but it does not offer the flexibility for an average rider and, of course, is not available for all trip purposes. They would like to see public transportation avail able from 6:00 a.m. to S:p.m., every day of the week serving Lake Placid to Avon Park. While they are desirous of serving the needs of t heir clients, they view public transportation as a valuable asset to the community and fee l it would benefit everyone. Some of those benefits would include : Welfare to Work; those with limi ted income or limited transportation avail able; students; reduced congestion; increased safety (many people ride their bicycle or walk In the roadways because they have no other transportation options); and increased economy, because mobility equals money. Buttonwo od Bay Buttonwood Bay is a huge mobile home park for senior c i tizens, consisting of approximately 900 homesites It i s locate d south of Sebring on US Highway 27. Interestingly, their views differed from the Nu-Hope representatives. There were approximately 200 people in attendance at the meeting. Most of them were in good health and very active. They adm itted that, although they didn't mind driving during the daytime, nighttime driving was troublesome. But, they felt that public transportation might be good for others, but not for them, because it is too inconvenient. One person in the group Highlands County Transit Development Plan 17

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was legally blind, and i ndicated that she would appreciate the autonomy public transportation would afford even if i t i s i nconvenien t When asked how many of thOse I n attendance were seasonal residents about half raised their hands When asked I f those seasona l res i dents dai med res i dency i n Highlands County a very small portion I nd i cated I n the affirmative This is an indicator of the seasonal influx that exists In Highlands County, and the lack of acoounting for th is population group Residents of Buttonwood Bay indicated that they often travel out of the County, going to the airport in Fort Mye rs, Cypress Gardens Sarasota, and the Veteran's Hospital. Of course, most of their travel is done within the County, going to Wai Mart, the mall, library and community center They felt that the trip fare should be $1 to Sebring and $2 to Avon Park Local Coordinating Board Responses from local coord i nating board members were m u ch more general in nature Of course they recognize that a public transportation system would help reduce costs and assist i n the provision of trips with in the Transportation Disadvantaged program They were also cogn i zant of the political constraints involved in im plement ing a public trans portation system In Highlands County Many of the members work for social service agencies who would be grateful If their clients who do not qualify for public assistance wer e ab l e to have greater mobility, thereby impr ov ing their situation and their opportunities. It was suggested that, since there is already a transportation management company in place, it would be easy for them to manage a public transit service, and it would ass i st in seam less coord i nation of transportation services with i n H i ghlands County SURVEY The Highlands County Public Transportation Feasibility Survey was conducted on Tuesday, March 26"', 2002 at four sites : the Avon Park Post Office, Lake Placid Post Office, Lakeshore Mall, and the Sebri ng Post Office. T h is survey was conducted in order to assess public sentimen t regarding the possibility or public transit In the area of Highlands County The survey was orally administered, with the survey administrator filling in the survey form according to the verbal response of the participant to a list of ten questions regarding public transit In Highlands County A copy of the survey i nstrument is i ncluded in Appendix A 18 Highlands County Trans it Development Plan

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Figuro 2.1 Transit Trip Purpose 30. 0'4 2U%t== t $.0% tO.OI'> 0.0% I A total of 200 surveys were colle c ted as follows: 5 partic i pants Office, 51 in Avon Park 64 participants at the mlm;'" ahel' !SO i n Lake Placid. The reason for the low response rate at the Sebring Post Office was that the s u rvey team was asked to leave the premises by a Post Office Employee only a few minutes i nto the survey session. Demographic Data A breakdown of survey respondents reveals that the typical respondent for our survey was female, aged 60 and over, and white. Respondent gender was 40.7 perc ent male and 59 3 percent fema le. T he majority of respondents (53.1 percent) were over the age of 60. 20.6 percent were between the ages of 46 and 60, 19.6 percent were between the ages of 26 and 45, and the l owest percentage (6.7 pe r cent) were under 25 years of age. The majority of respondents (83.7 percent) were whi te. 4.2 percent were Hispanic, 5.8 percent were Asian, and 6.3 percent were Black. Mode of Transportation Most of the respon d ents (98 0 percent) used an automobile to access the survey area, with only 2.5 percent bicycling to their destination, 0.5 percent taking a taxi, and 1.0 per cent walking to their destination Only 18 of the 200 respondents have ever used a taxi in Highlands County. Use of Public Transit Over half of the respondents (52 0 pe r cent) answered that they would use public transit if it were available The survey Inst ru ment probed further and asked the types of purpose for wh i ch respondents might use public transit. The choices included work, shopping medical, school, r ecreation, other, and unspecified activiti es. Respondents were allowed to choose more than one option, so that these items are not mutually exclusive Thirteen percent of respondents said that they would use pub l ic transit to get to work; 28 0 percent said they would possibly use it to go shopping; 21. 5 per cent i nd i cated use for med i cal appointments; 6.0 percent said that they would use public transit to get to school; and another 12.5 percent said they would use it to access recreational pursu i ts. Only 0.5 percent answered that they would use public transit for other, unspecified access. (See Figure 2.1. ) Highlands County Transit Development Plan 19

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Respondents were a lso asked how important they fel t public trans i t would be for Highlands County A majority (56 5 percent) felt that public transit would be very importan t 34 2 percent felt that pub li c transit was important 6 2 percent felt that public transit was unimportant, 2.5 percent felt that public transit was very unimportant, and 0.5 percent did not know the importance of public transit in Highlands County. (See Figure 2.2 ) Respondents want convenience regarding accessibility of transit. When asked what they perceived as a reasonable distan ce t o walk to access public transportatio n. a majority {48.2 percent) of respondents said that 1 -2 blocks would be reasonable, 27 7 percent said Y. to Y. of a mile, 21. 0 peroent sa i d less than one block, and only 3.1 percent of respondents would walk more than Y. mile to aocess public transit. Regarding how often they thought buses should run. the majority ( 47.4 percent) wanted a bus every hour 28 4 percent wanted buses to run every two hours 15 5 percent wanted buses to come every 30 minutes, 2.6 percen t wanted buses to come every 15 minutes, 4.5 percent wanted buses to service areas twice a day, and 1.0 percent wanted buses to run on demand. In two questions, people were asked how public transit shou ld be fund ed. One question asked if tax dollars should be used to fund public transit, and the seccnd question asked what type of tax would be most approp riate for funding public transit. 46.0 percent felt that tax do llars should be used to fund public transit 26 2 felt that tax dollars should not be used for this purpose, 19. 2 percent said that it depends, and 8 6 percent didn't know if tax dollars should be used However when asked what mode of taxation should be used to fund public transit 50.4 percent did not specify a ce rta in mode f or i ncrease of taxation to fund public transit. 24 .0 percent specified sales tax. 9.4 percent specified a gas tax. 9 9 percent specified a special taxing district, and 6 3 percent specified property tax as a means of funding transit. A cross-tabulation was performed o n how people ranked importance of pub lic transit in Highlands County versus if people thought that public transit in Highland County shou l d be funded by taxes. Overwhelmingly, those persons who ranked public transit as being very important or important for Highlands County also said that tax.
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those who ranked public transit as being very important or important to Highland County r esponded that tax dollars s/1oJJ14,,11, 9( \ff%.-USed to fund public transit. as shown In F1gure 2.4, persons who ranked pubhc transit as import ant are more likely to say that they might possibly use it If available. Over half (52.4 percent) of the respondents who ranked public trans it as very important or important claimed that they would possibly use public transit if it became avail able It is important to note that 38.3 percent of those ranking public transit as being important or very important responded that t hey would not use public transit if avai l able Figure 2.3 Cross-Tabu l ation of Importance and Funding wry lmponant lmponant u nimportant ""IY don1 know uoirnpoctant I ayes mno [Jdepends don't know I Highlands County Transit Development P lan 21

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45% <10% 3>% 30% 26% 20% 1$% 10% 5% 0% Figure 2.4 Cross-Tobulation of lmportan<:e and Transit Use WJI"f tmPONnt unimi)Ott3nt very don't know important ul'limportant Summary There are several barriers to public transit acceptance In this region, the primary one being that peop l e do not want to forfeit the convenience of their cars The other barrier is that peop l e do not want to expand the amount that they already pay i n taxe s for a service that they don't think will be of much utility to them especially when It is relatively economical and conven ient to use one's persona l vehicle. As shown by the cross tabulations In both Figures 2.3 and 2.4, there Is a certa i n amount of amb i valence as to th e implementation of public transit. People realize that the introduction of public transit would be a n i mportant add i tion to community services in Highlands County, w hile at the same time realizing that the tax base must expand to offer these types of services Of part i cular interest in this study is th at, through runn i ng a variety of cross-tabulations of the surveys, there was no significant d ifference between age, race o r gender and ranking of possi ble use of public transit, importance, taxation, and funding sources 22 Highlands County Transit Development Plan

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CHAPTER 3 EXISTING TRANSPORTATION SERVICES Florida for lht Transportation Disadvantaged In order to assist in determining current l evels of transportation service provided in Highlands County. an inventory was performep of existing public and private transportation pro viders. This inventory includes operators for the transportation disadvantaged program taxi service, airport limousine, and non-emergency medical services. Information was gathered by telephone interviews and i s detailed in Appendix B. TRANSPORTATION DISADVANTAGED Transportat i on in Highlands County is currently being provided to those persons who because of physical or mental disability income status, or age are unable to transport themselves or to purchase transportation and are, therefore, dependent upon others to obtain access to health care employment. education, shopping, social activities, or other life-sustaining activities, or children who are handicapped or high-risk or at-risk" ( 011(1), F.S.), commonly known as the transportation disadvantaged. Coordination of transportation services to the transportation disadvantaged population, is the responsibility of a l ocally-designated entity known as the Community Transportation Coordinator (CTC). CTC Trend Analysis .A trend comparison was completed to compare the perform ance of the Highlands County CTC over time The purpose of the analysis is to examine the performance of the CTC over the past five fiscal years. The trend comparison analyzed data for fiscal years 1997 through 2001. (It should be noted that the Annual Operating Report for FY 2001 was not yet validated by the Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged (CTD).) A longer trend is not available. because prior to 1997, the data was combined with Hardee and Okeechobee Counties. Table 3.1 shows the performance indicators and measures for each of the five fiscal years. Thi s trend analysis represents a combined set of statistics for all TO transportation services coordinated through the Highlands County CTC. The first measure shown in Table 3.1 is total annual passen ger trips Although the number of total trips fell slightly in 1998 and 1999, il has remained relatively constant. Total vehic l e miles and total revenue miles have increased, showing the impact of the out-of-county service providers and an increased average trip length. Highlands County Transit Development Plan 23

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Table 3.1 Trend An alysis for Hig hlands County CTC 99, 919 77,785 78.002 96. 976 99,972 0.05% Vehiele Miles 908.297 479,841 942,040 1 044. 098 1,2 82,255 41.1% 852,540 420,804 787,120 875,356 1 171,180 37.4% 9.09 6.17 12.08 11.29 12.83 41.1% Trip Expense per $13. 68 $ 1 2.33 $ 1 3.4 1 $14.07 $14.07 2.9% Trip Expense per $1. 50 $2.00 $1.11 $1.31 $1.10 26.7% per 100, 000 1.43 1.46 0.32 0.38 0.31 Miles Source: Annual PetfOmance Report, FY 1997. 1998, 1999, 2000, and 200 1. Comm ission for the Transportation D isadvantaged Vehicle m i les per passenger trip represents the average len g th of a trip provided unde r the coordina t ed system in High l ands County. Overall, this measure has increased over t he five year period from 9.09 vehicle mil e s per passenger trip in FY 1997 to 12.83 miles in FY 2001. For the past three years, however, t he tri p length has remained re l ative l y constant. The next two indicators measure cost efficiency of the s e rvices provided and coordi nated by the CTC. Operating exPense per passenger tri p h as exp erienced a slight (2.9%) increase, from $13.68 in FY 1997 to $14.07 in FY 2001, and operating exPe nse per vehicle mil e fluctua t ed over t h e p eriod, with a peak in cost during FY 1998 (at $2. 00 per vehicle mile). The five-year trend shows a 26.7% decrease in costs per vehicle mi l e This is part icular1y commendable, given the incre a sed cost of fuel and increased mileage per pas s enger trip. Quality of serv ice and safety measures are al s o included in Table 3 1 Accidents per 1 00,000 vehicle miles item measures system safety. There was a general downward tren d (less accidents per vehicle mile) for th i s measu r e over the five-year period. 24 Highlands County Transit Development Plan

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These trends Illustrate the performance of the CTC over the past five years Many factors and policies can affect these a;>;, such, they are presented for information purposes only. Explanation and critique should be conducted within the purview of t he Local Coordinating Board. CTC Peer Review Analysis In this section, demographic characteristics of Highlands County will be compared to those of peer Community Trans portation Coordinators in Florida In addition to a comparison of demographic characteristics, the review will compare performance measures within the Transportation Disadvan taged program. Highlands was compared to its CTC peers, which were selected based on Its similarity with peers in the following categories, to the extent possible, in the following order: Operating environment (urban or rural) System size (measured by annual TO trips) Organization type (transit agency, government, private non-profit or private for-profit) Network type (sole provider, partial b ro kerage, o r comp lete brokerage ) Demographic characteristics According to the Evaluation Workbook for Community Transportation Coordinators and Providers in Florida, prepared by CUTR. the Highlands County CTC is categorized as a "size 3" system (50,000 100,000 annual one-way passenger trips) that operates in a rural service area, is organized as a private for-profit entity, and completely brokers all trips. The counties that were selected for the Highlands County CTC peer rev iew include: Columbia, Jackson, Monroe, Santa Rosa and Sumler. Although these CTCs are not identical to Highlands, they genera lly share similar demograp h ic and systemic characteristics. All peer CTCs operate in rural service areas. Except for Columbia, all of the peers are categorized as Size 3 sys tems. Highlands is just barely under the Size 4 category, and Columbia is a good peer based on other demographics. Only one of the peer CTCs is organized as a private for-profit entity that coordinated trips as a complete brokerage during the reporting period (FY 2000) Tab le 3.2 Identifies the operating environment of each peer CTC. Highl ands County Transit Development Plan 25

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Tble 3 2 Peer Group Operating En vironment r. v '.<.z. i .'!!: -tpua , .., .. .. ,. ) .;;. T)ile ".c.:. Highlands Rural Complel8 Private --FOI'-Pmfit Columbia Rural P811ial Government lltokerage Jackson Rural Pallial Private Non-Profit Monroe Rural Pallial Prival8 Brokerage Non-Profit Santa Rosa Rural Complete Private Btokerage For-Proflt Sumter Rural Partial Government Brokerage Comparative Demographics Table 3.3 contains I nform ation for each of th e peer counties on tota l population, potential transportation disadvantaged popu lation, population density, medi an age, percentage of house holds with annua l i ncom es l ess than $15,000, median house hold income. and percentage of liouse holds with no access to a veh icle Highlands County Is above the peer group mean in every category, except medi an hous e hold income The lower than-average ln oome measureme nt adds to the fact that H i ghlands County has a potential TO popu la tion that is 53% of its total population This kind of demand on a socia l se rvice transportation system means that many people will not be able to recei ve service Comparative Perfo rmance Perf ormance measures for FY 2001 w ere calcu lated for H i ghla nds County and each of its peer CTCs, shown i n Tab le 3.4. On a verage, H igh lands County provides more tota l passenger trips than its CTC peers 26 Highlands County Transit Deve l opment Pian

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Table 3.3 Demographics of Peer CTCs ... r t ._, !if:j: : ;; . = .... Tota l Popul at io n (2000)1 56,513 46,75 5 79,589 117 ,743 53,345 70,789 87.366 Potent ia l TO Population (2000)2 20 ,300 20,779 30,287 35,333 1 9 971 25,334 46,62 2 Population Density (Pop/Sq. Mile) (2000) 1 7 1 5 1 80 11 6 98 83 85 Median Age (2000) 1 37 38 43 37 49 41 50 Households with Incomes <$15,000 (1997)3 24.2% 30.1% 14.5 % 1 6 .3% 25.6% 22.1% 23.0% Median Househol d Income (1997)' $28,521 $25,95 3 $36,3 53 $37,201 $25,601 $30,726 $26,006 u. s Cen sus Bureau (2000) 'Forec asts using Methodology Guidelines for Forecasting TD Transporlation Demand at the County Level 3Cal iper Corporation: 199 7 Demographi c Estimate & P rojectio n Florida S t atistical Abstract 2001 Bureau of Economic and Business R esearc h University of Flor i da. Table 3 4 Performance Measures for Peer CTCs (FY 2001) Trips 1 01,40 1 93,204 94,567 69 ,253 97 221 91,129 99,972 Miles Per 5.67 11.49 7.40 8 .77 6 .83 8.03 1 2 .83 Passenger Trip Operating Expense per $9.78 $14.18 $18.69 $12.68 $11.99 $13.46 $14.81 Paratransit Passenget Tr i p Operating Expense per S0. 9 1 $1.23 $2.07 $1.45 $1.76 1.48 $1.10 Vehicle Mile per 1 0 0,000 35 .75 1 .00 .33 .00 .49 .3 1 Miles Source: Annual Performance Report fof FY 2001, Commission f o r the Transportation Disadvantaged Highlands County Transit Developmen t Plan 27

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Compared to its peers. Highland s County records more average vehicle miles per passenger trip and ac:oordingty, has a higher operating expense per passenger trip. It is Int eresting to note, however, that Highlands County has an average t rip length of 12 .83 miles (60% higher than the peer group mean), with an operating expense per vehicle mile of $1. tO (near1y 26% BELOW the mean). On the other hand, Monroe the peer with the highest operating expense per vehicle mile, a l so is lower than average for vehicle miles per passenge r trip. Again, we see that Highlands County has demonstrated excellent cost effic i ency. In terms of safety, (accidents per 100,000 miles), Highlands County performed better than the mean Conclusions Overall the peer oomparison reveals that H i ghlands County is perform ing oomparable to or better than the CTC peer group mean for all performance measures These compari sons provide helpful Insight into how well H i ghlands appears to be perform in g statistica lly; however, since many factors affect performance, they should not be used as the sole measures to make inferences about the quality of TD service In Highlands County 28 Highlands County Transit Development Plan

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This chapter will look specifically at bus service as a means for the provision of public transportation. It will identify elements of .. and review case studies of different bus service types. This will help readers gain a better under standing of potential options and combination of options avail able. Ultimately, It will assist in making practical application, if any, to Highlands County SERVICE OPTIONS Numerous transportation service options are possible ; how ever, some are more appropriate than others. The three significant operation strategies that bring transportation to the customer are routing, scheduling and stop lo cat i on. Stop location can be pre-defined, such as bus stops at major activity centers, o r flexible, such as door-to-door service within a set service area. Rout.lng Routing considers the path of the vehicles. Hence, i t deter mines transit accessibility, as well as destinations served. The more service routing matches the public's pattern of origins and destinations, the more accessible the service will be. According to the Users' Manual for Assessing Service Delivery Systems for Rural Passenger Transportation there are five rout ing servic e styles. These service styles are listed below in order of increasing flexibility: Fixed-Route Service Vehicles travel on an established r oute with designated pick-up and drop-off points. Route-Deviation Service Vehicles travel on a fixed-route, picking up and drop ping off passengers anywhere along the route. Addi tionally, by advance request, vehicles will deviate a couple of blocks from the route to pi ck up and drop off passengers. Point-Deviation Service Vehicles stop at. major trip generators (such as shop ping mall and at specified t imes, but trav el a flexible route for doorstep pick-up and drop-off. 1 TCRP Report 6, Transpo rtation Research Board, Fede ral Transi t Adm i nistration 1995. Hi ghlands County Development Plan 29

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Many to-Few Service A veh icl e may pick up passengers anywhere in a par ticular service area, but its dest inations are li mited. Many to-Many SeJVice A vehicle provides doorstep pickup and delivery to service all origins and destinations within the service area Sc hedulin g Scheduling defines t he t i mes t r ans i t s eNice i s available The Users' Manual suggests four basic scheduling strategies: Fixed Schedule Passengers board at specified times set by the transit agency Flexible Fixed-Schedule Board ing is at a specified time set by the customer in advance Schedu l e changes are perm i tted with short notice Advance Request Passengers request seJVice one or more days in advance Immediate Reques t Passengers request s eNice f rom a dispatcher for a trip to be made as soon as po ssib le. Demand-responsive service is determined by passenger requests. Usually, a passenger ca ll s a dispatcher to request a certa in trip (lime. date origin, and destination) SeNi ce can be door-to-door or curb-to-curb. Trips are usually requested by advanced reseNation Demand-responsive service providers typ i cally use smaller veh icles. There are three subcategories of de. mand-respons ive service : Subscription Passengers request a repetitive ride, such as daily or weekly service to a partic u lar d estination Advanced ReseJVatlon Passengers call from o ne to fou rt een days In advance to reseNe a r ide for a s pe cified date and lime. Real Time Scheduling Passengers call to request a ride just before it Is needed A large fleet of veh icle s and many drivers are needed for this type of scheduling seNice. 30 Highland s County Transit Development Plan

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Service Combinations There are many possible service combinations. Generally, very res ponsive serv ice is attractive to customers; hpwever, It also costs a lot. In contrast, service that is limited and fixe d does not attract as many riders, but it costs less. Hybrids of demand-responsive and fiXed-route service have been successful for many rura l trans i t prov i ders. In f act, half of all current rural transportation providers offer more than one form of service. Serv i ce area, tr i p patterns, and o ri gin/destination patterns can be useful to help determine basic, practica l service options. Table 4.1 depicts service option characteristics. Table 4 1 Service Characteristics Sorvico Area Densely Populate
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CASE SAMPLES In order to Identify thresholds suitable for public Jransportation in rural communities and include severa l sucoessful mode l s that could potentia lly be applied to a new service in Highlands County similar communities with proven trans i t operations are depicted in Table 4.2. The rural transportation communities were chosen based upon thei r similarities to Highlands County's population, population density, and senior citizen population. The cities of Westbrook and Gothenburg are a l so used. because they have attracted a large ridership base at a relatively l o w cost. All of these system s provide usef ul examples of success fu l transportation services, especially for senior citizens. Each service is unique to i ts community wh en considering the geogra phical placement of towns the trip needs of community residents. and fund ing options available . \ ., . CommiiRIIJ.' .' Nevada County CA Venango County PA Dickey County, NO Charlo H e County. FL Westbrook M E Gothenburg Sweden Table4.2 Case Samples T .. Gold Country T ele<:are, Inc. Venango Bus Public Transit Dickey County Senior Citizens Charlotte Area Transit Independent T ransportation Network T r ansport Telematics l)pe Rural Rural Rural Rural Rural Urbl!n Table 4.3 shows characteristics of the counties in wh ich the sample ru ra l transportation systems operate These samp les were chosen because of a similarity to Highlands County Nevada County's population of 92,033 residents is close to Highlands County's population of 87, 366 Venango County s density (85.3 persons per square mile) is a l most Identical to H i ghland s (85.0 persons per square mile). Moreover D i ckey County and Charlotte County conta in a large percentage of persons over t he age of 65 (21.3 percent, and 34.7 percent, respectively) These four examples may provide particular insight into public transportation for Highlands County. 32 Highlands County Tr ansit Development Plan

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Table 4 3 Characteristics of Case Samples m'<;"'">">: .. .....,. '., .If:( .r.R:i';, IC1 ... ___ .. ;.;., .___ __ L """ --"ill"' -'""" _._ ..__I Total Population' 87,366 92,033 57,565 5 757 1 41,627 Popul a tio n Density (POfSOns per Sq 85.0 96.1 85.3 5.1 204 Mile)' Persons over 651 33.0% 17.4% 16. 8% 21.3% 34.7% Annual Riders2 N/A 1,267" N/A 1,900 Annual Board ings2 N/A 28,2363 94,045 7,200 26 69 94 Fleet S i ze' N/A 14 1 9 1 13 Budget' N/A $810 ,0003 $536.000 $30 000 $ 1 ,028, 462 '2000 U.S. Census 21nfonna tion obtained via CUTR phone interv iew 3Supplemental Transporlation Programs for Beverty Foundation 'Based on 9 months of operation Nevada County, California Gold Country Te le care, Inc. is a door-to-door demand respon sive service for seniors 6 0 years of age and older, and people with disabilities. It employs 20 paid and 8 volunteer drivers, and provides service seven days a week. In addition to pro viding regula r service, trans p orters a re a l so available for special events. Although residents are encouraged to use the fixed-route system, many of Telecare's clients are low income and live in rural areas. Most reside off the fixed route in shanties or rented rooms on unpaved roads among rough terrain, and cannot get to bus stops or afford taxl service. During 1999-2000, Telecare provided its service to 1,267 riders; over half of those were subscription passengers. Initially, the services were fund ed by church sponsorship and donations Currently, most of the $810,000 budget is funded by the California Department of Transportat ion. Other donors i nclude Agency on Aging, the United Way, Western ll!evada County, and Cathol ic Healthcare West. Last year, volunteers donated 10,4 12 serv i ce hours. Rider far es cover about 12 percent of the budget (one-way fares are $2.00 for 1 to 4 miles $3.00 for 4 to 7 miles, $5.00 fo r 7 to 10 miles, and a larger f l at rate for trips out of the coun t y or longer than 1 o miles). However, for the e conomically-d isadvantaged, there Is a program i n which the rider donates $2.00 to receive 20 voucher tickets good for $1.00 each The t i ckets are good for all serv i ces, including out-of-county trips. High l ands County Transit Development Plan 33

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Venango County Pe n nsylvania Venango County i s one of the most economically challenged areas I n Pennsylvania The County con t racts with Baker s Transportation Services for all public transportation services. w hich includes both fiXed-rout e and demand-response The fixed-route service utilizes a oost plus fixed-fee basis The oontractor provides all maintenance and operating services, and the County provides three regular buses The demand response servioe uses vehicles from the County and the contractor, and is o p e rated by Baker's at a rate of $30.00 a n hou r (dispatcher oosts are not included in the rat e and are billed to th e County separate ly). Venango County's elderly population have specia l progr ams to aid with their demand respons e transportation costs. The State of Pennsylvania finanoes about 85 percent of the oost of elder trips through the Section 203 program funded by the State Lottery In most cases the Venango County Area Agency on Ag ing wi l l pay for the remain ing 15 percent of th e trip since 85 percent o f demand-response trips transport seniors to t h e four Depa rt men t of Ag ing Centers in the County T he County also accepts re i mbursements from other agencies, such as the Department of Public Welfar e Human Services Development, and Commun i ty Services Due to the high oost of demand-response service, th e County expanded fixed -route service The f ix ed-route inclu des a loop in tw o of the more densely populated towns. with a connec tor route through another township The fixed -rou t e s y stem runs every h our and provides service from 8 :00a. m until 6 : 00 p.m. The connector r oute is a loop that reverses direction each hour and is coordinated with the other two loops (one on the half hour and the other on the hour). Marketing efforts led by Ven ango County's T ransportation Coordin a tor are focused on attracting new riders educating prospective users. and reducing no-shows Promot i ona l items such as ooloring books and flyers are given to res i dents. In order to familiarize p r ospect ive clients a letter expl a i ning the merits of the transit system and how to use it i s sent to all residents who have reached the age of 65, and easy-to-read calendars with important numbers and space designated to reoord trip times and dest i na tions are sent to each customer every s ix months in order to de crease the number of no-shows. Dickey County, North Dakota Dickey County oontains a high-perfonnance rural public transportation system that consists of a single veh i cle open to the genera l publ i c H owever its user base is primarily e l derly 34 Highlands County T rans i t Development Plan

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and persons with disabilities. Although the density of the county Is only about 5 persons per squar e mile. it contains two tawns..tl1aUt;l.Ve about 1,7 00 people each. In order to provide low coot seivtee to the entire county, the county has been divided into four service zones. Each zone is serv iced twice a week and riders from each town have the option to go to 'the other town. For example, on Mondays, the bus serves the two eastern zones. On Tuesdays, the bus picks up residents from the two eastern zones and takes them to the major town in the west zone. On Wednesdays, the bus picks up riders in the west and brings them to the larger town in the east zone On Thursdays, the bus serves just the two western zones. On Fridays, the bus is scheduled for routine maintenanoe twice a month. During the other two Fridays In the month, ,the bus takes riders to out-of county cities. The Dickey County Senior Citizens service has no restrictions or eligibility requirements. The system Is the only transportation provider In the oounty. Most trips are for medical appointments. shopping, banking, and prescriptions. In addition, work trips make up about five percent of all tr ips. Only about five percent of the trips are for senior nutrition programs. No other servloe agenc ie s are located in the county. Since the bus is not available in each town for three days, the Dickey Senior Center utilizes volunteers (who use their personal vehicles) to drive riders for essential tri p purposes The overall cost per bus trip is only $4.80. Suggested dona t ions ($0.50) cover 10 p ercen t of th e operating oosts Additional funding is from Section 18 federal funding, state funding, and a loca l millage l evy dedicated to services for seniors." Charlotte County, F lorida Charlotte Area Transit operates a door-to-door demand responsive service that is open to the general pub lic It operates Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The base fare for each trip is $2.00, with additional fares for traveling extended distanoes. Reservations must be made at least one day in advance of the requested trip, but can be made up to one week in advance. The system is run by the Charlotte County Human Services Department, and has only been in operation approximately 10 months. Like Highlands County, Charlotte County has a high percentage of its population over 65 years of age. However, its density is 2.5 times more than Highlands County, which should make door to-door service more efficient due to the ability to multi-load. Highlands County Transit Development Plan 35

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City of Westbrook, Maine The Independent Transportation Network (ITN) is a private non-profit transportation system for seniors and the visually impaired in Westbrook, Maine. Westbrook is a cily located in Cumberland County. containing 16,142 residents Its popula tion density is 960 persons per square mile. Hence, it is much more densely populated than Highlands County. In addition, only 15.5 percent of Westbrook's population Is over the age of 65. Although the geographical and population character ist ics of Highlands County and Westbrook are not similar, ITN is included because is an example of a successful pilot program that emphasizes convenience for the elderly and disabled riders. In fact, ITN was developed from research funded by the Federal Transit Administration, American Association for Retired People, and the Transportation Research Board. Currently, it is supported by riders' annual membership dues, fares grants, and donations from the community Some of the drivers are volunteers who use their own automobile; other dri vers are paid. This system tries to match the convenience of the automobile by providing 24 hour service 7 days a week, bringing customers to their door, and providing an automated payment mechanism. Riders who use their services open accounts to pay annual membership dues and pay for their rides by the mile. City of Gothenburg, Sweden Finally, Transport Telematics provides transportation for the elderly in Gothenburg, Sweden (eight square kilometers). Transport Telematics is a demand responsive transport service that has found success by using an automated book ing and call-back system, providing a semi-fixed connector route, and using fully accessible vehicles (12 to 14 seat capacity) with low floors. The automated call-back with confir mation or delay notification feature occurs 15 minutes before the assigned pick-up lime. The automated booking of travel can occur from either an interactive voice response system via touch tone phone, or a card swipe at major destinations The swipe of a card at the stop essentially means, want to travel as soon as possible." Service operates somewhere between exclusive ride taxi service and regular bus services with several stopping points. End stop points are terminals (located at a hospital and shopping center); fixed intermediate stop points are similar to bus stops; predefined stop points are identified with a sign; non-predefined stop points include door to-door service. Transportation is routed according to customer need, generally only stopping where passengers request pick-up or drop-off Some passengers are eligible for door-to-door service Passengers who are not eligible to use the doorstep can only be picked up at pre-designated meeting 36 Highlands County Transit Development Plan

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points or bus stops Ail bus passengers need to pre-book their travel at least 15 minutes before the b us departs the terminal, down the route can be notified about possible delay caused by additional bookings. Three types of transportation services are used by Transport Telematics: (1) semi-fixed route; (2) demand-response, which departs from the terminals at prescr ibed limes (every two hours) and stops at conventional fixed intermediate stops, but deviations off the route are available upon request; and (3) flexible route demand-response which departs from termi nals at prescribed times and has no scheduled bus stops. This flexible route service only stops on request. One bus departs In each direction every half hour and must reach the other terminal within 55 minutes in order to be ready to depart in the other direction. Virtual roufes have no terminal or bus stops. Hence, the "virtual route vehicle will only call at stops on request, essentially a shared taxi-style service operating in during set hours. This pilot program has been expanded, due to its high level of demand. The service operates from 9:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. on weekdays. There are over 5,000 demand-responsive booked, p la nned, and dispatched trips per weekday. Ail of the demand-responsive riders pay the same fare as those using regular public transport. Passengers report that Transport Te lemat ics is thei r "mobile social dub," in which driver friendli ness provides the highest ratings Two out of three eligible users prefer the flexible route to the optiona l shared ride taxi. Consequently, the costs for local taxi provision have been reduced by 70 percent. This savings covers half of the oper ating costs for FlexRoute. In addition, fare revenues cover a quarter of the expenses. and the rest of the costs are paid for by the city. Highlands County Transit Development Plan 37

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38 Highlands County Transit Development Plan

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The focus of this chapter is on transit service alternatives. It introduces various approaches to meeting community mobility needs. While some alternatives may not be desir able or feasible in High land s County, it is important to understand the wide array of possi b ilities available to meet transportation needs Implementation of some of these options would require assistance and/or cooperation from more than one agency, organization, or entity. For clarity and simplicity these options are contained in Table 5.1 at the end of this chapter. FIXED-ROUTE SERVICE Traditional fixed-route bus service is the most prevalent mode of public transportation in the United States Fixed route services are provided along specific routes with scheduled arrival/departure times at predetermined bus stops. One variation for low -density or more rural areas is periodic scheduling, where buses serve different areas on different days of the week. With the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), all new vehicles used for fixed-route public transportation must be wheelchair accessible. Fixed-route systems are generally effective in meeting travel demand for intra-urban and suburban-urban tri ps but tend to fall short in ge nerat ing suburban-suburban and rural trips, as well as trips for the e ld erty and persons with disabilities. The basic advantages of fiXed-ro ute transit are that no reservations are requ ired to access the service, litt l e or no passenger screening or registration is needed (except for discounted fares to certain population segments), and l arge numbers of people can be trans ported at one time in a single vehicle. Disadvantages include system access being limited due to predetermined stops and schedules, difficult access for seniors and patrons with disabilities, and la rge buses are often perceived to be aesthetically displeas ing especially in suburban or rural areas. It is important to remembe r that in determin ing the type and leve l of public transportation service, community goa ls must be heavily weighed. There are many sma ller communities (especially in Florida) that o pera te fixe d-route transit services. Sometimes, a certain measure of cost effectiveness or ridership is not as important to a commu nity as the goals of providing mobility to those who truly need it. Highlands County Transi t Developm ent Plan 39

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Deviated Fixed-Route In a fLXed-route system with route deviation a vehicle operates along a fLXed route, making schedu l ed stops along the way Upon request. vehicles will deviate one to two blocks or more from the route to pick up and drop off passengers After deviating from the fixed route a vehicle immediate l y retums to the fiXed route at the point at wh ich it departed to accommodate the request for deViation This procedure ensures that the vehicle does not skip ariy portion of the fixed route. In the event that no requ ests for deviation a r e received, the vehicle would ope ra te ident i ca l to a fixed route vehicle. Typically, route deViation service requ ires smaller vehicles than those used for traditional fixed-route service. due to the need to travel on residential streets. Fixed-route serVice route deviat i on is genera lly more cost effect ive in smaller urban and rural communities The serVice is usu ally operated with m i n i buses or vans To ach i eve grea ter geograph i c cove ra ge, routes may vary by day of the w eek Some systems usually in mo r e rural areas. allow riders to access the service anywhere a l ong the fixed route by flagging the driver. The leve l of informa tion provided to the passengers must be high to avoid any confusion about the deViated routes. Although th e cost per revenue mile of serVice is often higher for route-dev iated systems, the cost per pas senger trip is normally less, due to higher ridership on the deViated routes Cost savi ng s are also realized because it elimi nates the necessity for complementary paratrans i t service. General public route deViation systems are considered demand responsive, and mee t the requirements for proVi sion of serVice under Americans with D i sabilities Act o f 1990 (ADA) It must be decided which p asse ngers wi ll be allowed to request deviations Deviations may be available to the general public or may only be allowed by specific popula tions, such as ADA-eligible indivi duals The amount of deviation allowed must also be determined A factor in this determination is whether the system allows for general publi c d eViat ion or deviations for specific populations. Vehicle s typically deviate from two b l ocks to o/.0 mile from the fixed route. If deviation service is only available for ADA-eligible individuals, vehicles must deviate at hiast o/.0 mile on either side of the fixed route. Route deViation serVice seems to work best in suburban and rural areas and may also be appropriate on lengthy 40 Highlands County Tra nsit Development Plan

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. routes with long headways and low ridership. Route geviation may also work well in areas where most origins are concentrated around a corridor. Fixed Route with Point Deviation Vehicles in point devia t ion systems serve designated stops or time points on a fixed schedule, but the route that the vehicle takes between time points is determined by the deviation schedule. Point deviation service is similar tQ general demand response service, in t hat vehicles pick up and drop off passengers at their desired locations However, point deviati on vehicles also service specific time points on a fixed schedule to provide passengers with the structure of service that operates on a fixed schedule. Point deviation service usually requires smaller vehicles than those used on traditional fixed-routes, due to the need to travel on residential streets. Requests for deviation are made to a system reservatlonist and/or scheduler. Typically, a limit is set for the number of deviations that can be accommodated within the time point schedule, filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Point deviation service works best in rural or suburban areas. In more urban areas, point deviation may be implemented to provide acces s to fixed routes utilizing a t im e transfer system. Like general public deviated fixed route, point deviation systems are considered to be demand-res ponsive by the U n ited States Department of Transportation (USDOT), and are not requ ire d to provide complementary paratransit service. DEMAND RESPONSIVE "Paratransit is defined quite broadly by some as any means of shared-ride transportation other than fixed-route service. P rima rily, paratransit services are considered to be suppleme ntal to fiXed-route in order to accommodate those persons who are unable to utilize conventional fiXed route bus service. Such services are usually operated as advance reservation, door-to-door or curb-to-curb More specifically, paratransit service is characterized by hi gher levels of personalization and flexibility than fixed rout e service. Paratranist can be used as a feeder to a fixed-route bus system, or can be used where fixed-route ridership or cost effectiveness would be l ow Demand response service can be provided by taxi s . vans or minibuses In addition, service can be supplied through High l ands County Transit Development P lan 41

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contracts with varlous providers including non-profit agen cies, for-profit transportation companies volunteer organi zations, and transit agencies. Demand-responsive service can be operated on call and demand" or with advance reservations, usual!)' a minimum of 24 hours. Advantages of demand -response include (or curb-to-curb) service; larger geograp hic area of coverage; route flexibility; smaller, more comfortable vehicles; and the fact that special needs are more easily accommodated. T he disadvantages include: shared use of the vehicles, no direct travel between individual passenger origin and destination, a high degree of dispatch coordination, increased expenses and higher fares, and longer travel and wait times. DiaiA-Ride Dial A-Ride (DAR) refers to demand-responsive, door-to door or curb-to-curb service that is prov i ded to the general public without regard to functional abilities of passengers. Customers request a trip in advance, are picked up at their origin, and dropped off at their destination. DAR usually takes one of three forms: many-to-one (many origins to one destination), may-to-few (many origins to a few desti nations). General public DAR is the most personal alter native to fixed-route service, but also the most expensive DAR meets the requirements for provision for service under ADA. DAR service may work well in low-density areas where it may be more practical than fixed-route or to serve as feeder service to fixed routes. FEEDER SERVICE Feeder service involves picking up passengers at their origin point (usually home) and transporting them for the first leg of their journey to a bus stop. Vans or small buses are typically used for feeder services. One segment of the trip-either the portion from home to the stop or the fixed route portion-is generally fare free. T hat is, passengers are either charged a fare for the demand response portion of their trip and use a free transfer to the fixed-route system or vice versa. Upon arrival at the stop or station, the passenger disembarks and, after a short wait or imme diately upon leaving the feeder vehicle, boa rds the fixed route vehicle. The passenger then travels on the bus to a stop closest to the final destination. A third leg requiring feeder service may also be ne<:essary to reach the final 42 Highlands County Transit Development Plan . .

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. ... destination. Because point-to-point service is provided, careful scheduling Is required to minimize walt I tems at When feeder service is used to prov ide ADA paratranist service to feed into the fixed-route system, it is important to understand that feeder service is really not very cost-effec tive for short trips. The longer the trip the greater the cost sav i ngs that may result from substituting a portion of t he paratransit trip with fixed route service Therefore, subur ban to urban or rural to urban trips are typically better candidates for feeder service than intra-urban trips. Mandatory use of feeder service can be part of an ADA program. I ndividuals who are conditionally elig i ble for ADA par atransit service may be required to use the fixed-route system when feeder service is provided, as long as exces sive trip l engths are not required to complete the trip. JITNEYS Jitney services usually consist of privately-operated vans ca r rying up to 15 passengers, operating on semi fixed routes on a fairly-regular basis. Most often, they operate on major thoroughfares, picking up passengers anywhere along then routes. For an extra charge, they may deviate from the thoroughfare to deliver passengers to their homes. Jitneys usually do not follow a set schedule, but tend to access stops mo r e frequently and stop less often than vehicles on conventional bus routes. Jitney services can serve several functions. In major urbanized areas jitney systems operate to relieve over crowding In this capacity, jitneys can attract many passengers from the fixed-route public bus system who have been left at the bus stop due to overcrowding. Another role for jitneys i s to provide services in low-density areas where existing bus operations do not exist or fall below acceptable minimum standards. In both of these cases, service is usually bid competitively by the transpor tation operator. Jitneys can also work in concert with the existing public transportation system by serving as feeders. In this case jitneys pick up passengers in residential areas and deliver them at' the main line of the bus system. Another way jitneys can function is as the ptimary providers of commu nity-based transit. In this scenario jitneys connect resi dents of lowincome neighborhoods to medical centers, shopping centers, community activity centers and othe r Highlands County Transit Development Plan 43

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nearby destinations. Finally, jitneys may act as activity center connectors, travelin g in and around areas of major commercial activity, such as employment centers and tourist attractions. VOLUNTEER TRANSPORTATION PROGRAMS Typically, volunteer transportation programs try to match requests for transportation with the geographic area in which the volunteer driver or vehicle is available. This type of program can be effective for trips that are diffi cult to provide by any other mode. A volunteer organization can also help in providing an escort service to citizens who live within the service are a of a fixed-route or paratransit system, but need assistance in utilizing the service. The retired community is a good resource for volunteers. Volunteers gain personal satisfaction from helping others with restricted m ob ility. The primary drawback to this type of service, however, is the issue of insurance and liability, as well as the need to locate and retain a pool of reliable volunteers. Successful volunteer programs are not free. They require an investme nt of time resources, and energy. Although there are costs invo l ved starting and maintaining a successful volunteer program, they are minimal in comparison to relyi ng solely on paid employees. It is important to note that the costs associated with volunteer programs and volunteer labors are not limited to actual dollars, but also include the investment of time and energy. Critical components of successful volunteer transportation programs include, but are not to. organization, recruitment, screening, training. recognition, and possible reimburSement for m ileag e and/or meals. In the current climate of federal and state funding cuts In transportation and many social service p rograms. the use of volunteers within community transportation may prove to be a very viable and cos t-effi cient transportation alternative that he lp s to further stretch transportation do llars in Florida This situation may become critical in the future, as the demand for transportation by those who are transit dependent is expected to continue to grow. 44 High lan ds County Transit Development Plan

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. RIDESHARING Ridesharing is the shared use of a vehicle by two or more persons for the purpose of traveling to work, school or other trip locations. Vehicles used for rldesharing include private ly-owned automobiles or vans or publicly-owned vans or buses (carpools, vanpools, or buspools). Trip origins and destinations of riders may vary. Passengers may share fuel, toll, and parking expenses and driVi ng may be a rotated duty. Although ridesharers most commonly are people from the same household or neighbors, a ride matching serVice operated by employers, a regiona l commuter assistance program or transportation agency can facilitate rldesharlng arrangements. Ridesharing success is increased when: Travelers find others with similar schedules and points of origin and destination Parking is unavailable Parking is expensive A guaranteed ride home program is offered Employers subsidize the cost of ridesharing Preferential parki n g and flexible work schedules for ridesharers are offered by employers One of the ways state and local governments can support ridesharing is by p roviding funds for van or bus purchases, program planning, and regional commuter assistance programs. Vanpools are particularly attractive for longer commutes. Transit agencies that administer vanpool programs benefit by the vehicle miles traveled that are accrued by the van pools actually generating revenue. This is because vanpool programs can earn federal and state formula funding attributed to the number of vanpool vehicle miles traveled. By reporting the vanpool mileage as part of the National Transit Database, a transit system should expect to increase the amount of state and federal revenue apportioned to It asa result of increases in passenger miles, trips, and vehicle revenue miles due to the vanpool program This revenue can be greater than the transit agency's investmen t in the vanpool program, making the p rogram a revenue generator. Florida State Block Grant program funds are distributed on a proportional basis among Florida transit agencies, based on a formula using their population, passenger trips, and Highlands County Transit Development Plan 45

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revenue miles. Florida transit agencies that curre ntly p rovide vanpool services include VOTRAN (Daytona), Space Coast Area Transit (Cocoa), LYNX (Orlando), HART (Tampa), PSTA (Clearwater), Citrus Connection (Lake land), and Miami-Dade Transit Agency (MOTA). Most transit agencies that administer vanpooling operate their own program, although some agencies purchase vanpool services. Carpools Carpooling may be de fined as two o r more persons sharing r ides in a private vehicle. Census data show that, next to drilling alone, it i s most preva lent commute aHerna tive in the United States. Carpooling was first encouraged in this country during World War It, due to petroleum and rubber conservation measures. It has been promoted since the 1 g7os in response to energy crises and as an air quality transportation control measure. The matching processes for carpoolers range from very sophisticated computerized systems to inf orma l arrange ments. More effective matching systems usually inc lu de informa tion on specific origins and destinations, schedu les, travel routes, and passenger preferences (such as smoking). A sufficiently large pool of potential commuters is important for securing good matches. Overall, it has been found that organized carpools targeting commuters at the work site seem t o be more effective than those focusing on residential areas. A major advantage of carpooling is that it allows t he convenience of a private automobile. In addition, respon sibilities fo r driving are shared among the carpoolers. However, there are some disadvantages when compared to driving alone. These include the necessity for set schedules, the constrained ability for indiv iduals to run errands, and increased commute time (due to picking up additional passengers). In addition, some commuters feel that carpooling de pri ves them of their p rivate time. The most promis ing market for carpooling is commuters traveling to and from work during peak periods of the day The size of this market can determine the feasibility of a carpooling program in a given area. For work trips, car pooling is best suited to suburban employment markets. For the suburban-suburban commute, carpooling seems to be the most likely alternative to driving atone, due to the higher densities necessary for transit (and even vanpoot ing discussed in the next section). Length of work trip also can determine carpool success. Commutes ranging from 46 Highlands County Transit Development Plan .

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15 to 25 miles seem to attract the largest proportion of carpools. An additional marl
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vanpool program, and/or subsidies provided by private donations and/or foundations for l ower income commuters. Agency Van pools Many agencies, groups, and organizations would probably like to provide transportation to their clients and/or members For many of these agencies, even if fixed-route transportation were available, clients or members would not be able to use that transportation due to physical or cognitive limitations. In the past, these agencies have attempted to acquire vehicles {usually vans) to meet their own transportation needs. When successful in attempts to acquire vehicles, these groups must then contend with the challenge of finding qualified drivers, covering operating costs, ensuring the safety of vehicles through regular maintenance services, etc. A more effective and cost efficient method of meeting the needs of these agencies are government-sponsored agency vanpool programs open to non-profit agencies. If a l ocal government is able to provide the capital (vehicles) for the program and contracts with a private company for the administration, maintenance and insurance needs, the agency cost of providing transportation services can be reduced In addi tion, the agency is relieved of many of the administrative problems associated with the acquisition and upkeep of vehicles Guaranteed Ride Home Programs A guaranteed/emergency ride home prcigram (GRH) i s generally considered crucial to success of ridesharing. Many people are reluctant to rideshare for fear of being stranded at work without transportation during an emer gency. GRH reduces anxiety over ridesharlng by guaran teeing participants a convenient and reliable mode of transportation to their home in the event of a personal emergency or in the event an employee must work over time. The guaran t eed ride can be provided by taxi, short term auto rental, company-owned car, shuttle service or public transportation. An employer, a regional commuter assistance program, a transportation management organization, or transportation agency can administer such a program. SUBSCRIPTION BUS SERVICE Subscription bus service generally takes the form of pre arranged serv i ce that is designed to meet specific group or individual needs. This type of service can be provided 48 Highlands County Transit Development Plan .

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. . using regular fixed-route buses, and works best when there are specific needs for group trips to one or two During off-peak hours, idle buses may be used; during peak hours, spare buses can be used. Some examples of subscription bus services might include a consortium of agencies that need transportation to provide after-school activities for children, or seniors In adult communities that need to get to nutrition programs or go shopping. COMMUNITY BUS SERVICE Community bus service is similar to jitneys. However, while jitneys are generally subject to some form of regula tion, community bus service refers to an informal network of private cars and vans that provide transportation to and from major destinations in and around residential neighborhoods. These networks typically thrive in low income areas where auto ownership is minimal and public transportation Is difficult to obtain. In these situations, enterprising residents with cars or vans fill this transporta tion gap for community residents. Providers of this type of service offer prompt, reliable transportation to grocery stores, medical facilities, shopping centers, and other major destinations within and nearby the community for a modest fee These vehicles are not regulated and are typically underinsured, and possibly uninsured, but provide a vital function in the community. SUBSIDIZED TRANSPORATION Subsidized transportation involves grants or stipends, most commonly provided by a government agency, which makes up all or part of the difference between the cost of providing a transportation service and the revenues gener ated by that service. User-Side Subsidy The distinguishing feature of the user-side subsidies is that the providers of the service receive the subsidy in amounts proportional to the number of people utilizing the service. Its main. advantage is that it promotes the efficient alloca tion of transportation resources Specifically, transporta tion providers must successfully attract passengers to receive the subsidy; therefore, an incentive exists to offer high quality, low cost transportation. The mechanism of consumer cho i ce fosters a competitive environment, and Highlands County Transit Development Pla n 49

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the providers that offer the best service w ill tend to attract most users. The user-side subsidy service concept has been Identified as a potenti a l method of serving primarily lowi ncome citi ze ns or sen i ors with a need for persona l mobility. I n a user-side subsidy program, patrons are charged a portion of the fare associated with a demand response trip and the remainder of the oos t for the trip i s subs i dized by the program s imp l ementing a gency Taxicab companies typically pro vide the trips de l ivered through user-side subsidy programs These programs have a high potential for effectiveness i n areas wi t h low demand or low density, or at specific t i mes of the day ( late evening service ), or specific days of the week ( Sunday service). Taxi-based user-side subs idy programs are currenUy operat i ng in many large cit i es i n the United States such as Hous t on, Los Ange l es, San Franc i sco, Oklahoma C i ty, and Seattle Although each progra m is designed according to each area's un i que mobility needs, some general parameters can be applied to taxi-based user side subsidy programs. Customers are typically sold taxi vouchers w ort h a certain dollar amount towar d a cab ride (e g $10 00) at a reduced cost. The amount of subsidy passed on to consumers varies from 40 pe rce nt to 90 percent. For example, in a program with a 50 percent subsidy, th e consumer would be charged $5 .00 for a $10.00 taxi vou c her. The customer then makes a trip with a designated taxi company and Is responsible for any portion of the total fare that exceeds the total value of the voucher. Employer-Provided Subsidies The Transportation Commuter Benefit Program is a provi sion of the Internal Revenue Code, Section 132(f), which p e rm its employers to subsid i ze their employees' cost of commuting to work, by transit and vanpools up to $100 per month Up to $175 per month can be provided by empl oyers to employees for parking at or near an empl oyer's work site, or at a f a cility from whi ch an employee commutes vi a transit v a npool or carpool These expenses are tax deductible t o the employer and oost the employer less than provid i ng the same amount in gross income Employers can also take advantage of a provision i n the tax code th a t a l lows emp l oyees to use p r e tax income to pay for qualified fringe bene frts such as tra nsi t passes, vanpoo l fares and qua li fied parking As a result employees t ake home more of their paycheck and employers benefit form this by saving on payroll taxes (at 50 Highlands County Transit Development Plan

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. .. least 7 65 % savings) and other salary-based benefits such as pens ion contribution s de fined as a percent of sala ry. offer both the commute benefit and the pre tax option up to sta tutory limits. Highlands County Transit Developm en t Plan 51

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Table 5 1 Service Delivery Options Most common mode of publlc Slandard buses No reservation required AA:eess is limijed by fixed transportation in U.S. Minibuses Allows passenger llexlblllty stops end schedules Spec ific routes wltll schedul ed H i gh-ca p acity buses littl e or no passenger Access can be difficult for F ixedRoute 1 arrival/departure times at fixed screening or registration some seniors and peopl e wltll beations Wheelchair accessibility disabilities Transport many peopl e at a Large buses often penoelved time in one vehiclo ::t: as not aestlletically pleasing .o -:r Fixed-route. deman Vans 0. .. More in smaller Usually requires smaller Requires tllat a high level of g urban and rural communities vehicles due to travel In lntorrnatlon be provided to c Routes may vary by day of week residential areas consumers to avoid oonfuslon ::> .:< Wor1 Deviated headways and low ridership, and .. where most origins and "" destinations are concentrated < around a corridor. "' Transit agencies must decide 0 "' purpose for d Advance reservation required for ::> I 1 Serves designated stops or lime M inibuses Cost per passenger Is less Cost per revenue mile is points on a fixed schedule Vans than demand-responsive hig h e r than fixedroule Route between time point s Usually requires smaller Requires that a high level of detenmined by deviation schedul e vehicles due to travel in Information be provided to Fi:xedRoute wilh I Limit for number of deviations residential areas consumers to avoid confusion Point Deviation within time point schedul e Requests are on a fllSI-<:OmG, first-served basis Worl
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Sllared-<1do or curbTaxis Personalized and lle>Cible Shared use of vehicles 10-eurb service Vans I ncreased googr&jlhic area o1 No direct between Advance reqtJired Minibuses coverage indMdua l origin and High le\111 of pe<$0nafization Small.., more comfortable desllnatlon bo used. a; a fee de r service v e hicles High degree of dispatch Demand-Response Ito fixed route M ee ts needs of som e seniors coor
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r -:cr,:;;lp ..,." --,-ft ---.. ........ : --. -Two or more people share ride in Personal vehleles Convenience of private auto Necessllales sol schedules a private vehicle Cosl-offi<:iont Constrains for Various methods lor grouping lncenllves olten offered i ncividuals 1o run errand$ or incfMduals leave before/after scheduled carpools 1 Best for longer-'< trips can reduce auto congestion departure and air pollution Ina-eased travel time Share dliving responsibitaies UsuaOy does not oddress need s of those who are transportation-dependent I I I I I :I: u; -::r One me mber serves as the dr i v er Vans S hared cos t Increased traveltime ii) D r iv e r I s ofte n a ll o w ed t o rid e free Less wear o n personal Sched u l e con s tr a i n t s a and have use of veh ic l e after vehlclo Does n o t serve those who a r e "' hours b' Wortdble wort< hours ::> to share in &J -"tJ Typi cally not open t o general Iii :::J Informal network o f vehi c l es t o a n d P&fSOnal vehic les Promotes e n lrepreneurial ism Vehi c l e s are often from destin atio n s In a n d a r o u n d Meets need s of underserved a n d may ba resi de nti a l ne ighborhood popul ations u ninsure d Thrive In low-Income, m inority. Veh i cles d o not oom ply with Community Bus I nelg !lborlloo d s w here au t o saf ety o r quality regul ations ownersh ip Is minimal Is often a prompt and reliable means of gettlng to destination for a modest fee

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:z: <5' :::r ii> a. U> :::> -< :::> !!!. -0 0 m :::> --o "' :::> 01 01 Subsidies Provid..,. receM> subsidy b> make up the difference between cost and revenue Serves primarily those with mobility needs Private vehldes Taxis Vans Minibuses E fficient allocation of transportation resources Serves a r eas with iow-
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56 Highlands County Transit Development P l an

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.. . The Identification of goals and objectives is a crucial and fundamel'!tal step in the development of a transit plan ldemtification of the goals and objectives was a result of interviews with key local officials, community workshops, and review committee meetings. Transit-related goals, objectives. and strategies in other plans and documents were also identified and reviewed to ensure that the goals contained herein are consistent. Relative goals from these plans are contained in Appendix D. Below are the goals and objectives. Each objective addresses, in a broad policy context, actions to be taken to achieve the slated goal. GOAL1 Public transportation in Highlands County should be flexible and safe, while providing mobility for many of its full and part-time res i dents Objective 1. 1 Public transportation should begin by serving the needs of many transit-dependent residents and visitors (e.g., youth, elde rly low income, and disabled.) Objective 1. 2 Public transportation shou ld be flexible enough to be expanded or downs i ze d (e.g., on a seasonal basis and over time), as needed. Objective 1 3 A high standard of safety for riders and drivers should be maintained. GOAL2 A public transportation system In Highlands County should be efficient, visually-appealing, environmen tally sound, and cost-effective. Objective 2. 1 A mix of transportation options s h ould be considered including, but not limited to, fixed-route service, deviated fixed-route, community circulators, vanpools, dial-a-ride, and other transportation demand management strategies. Objective 2.2 A public transportation system should minimize its effect on the natural environment of Highlands County. GOAL3 Public transportation should be coordinated with local planning and economic development goals. Highlands County Transit Development Plan 57

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Objective 3. 1 Public transportation should be a means to assist in fulfill ing the goals of local plans, particularly in terms of safety, congestion, and growth management. Objective 3. 2 Public transportation should be used to encourage and support economic development. GOAL4 Explore and secure dedicated funding sources Objective 4. 1 Communicate need for transit and funding to governments and businesses Objective 4 2 Explore several funding options, includ ing an inves tigation of public-private partnerships. Table 5 1 summarizes the goals and their corresponding objectives. Table 6.1 Goals and Objectives Communicate need to governments and businesses Explore several funding options 58 Highlands County Transit Development Plan

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. Opp o rtunities f o r fund i ng transi t and transportation are plentiful, l argely restricted by project type, l oc a tion, use, Potential opt i ons for funding a trans i t project in Highlands County are listed below. Bonds A b ond i s a certificate or evide n c e of a deb t on which the issuing company or governmenta l body promises to pay the bondholders a spec i fied amount of in t erest for a speci fied l ength of time, and to repay the l oan on the expirat i on d a te Bonds are sol d to finance i mprovements and may require voter approval. County Incentive Grant Program Th i s p rogram prov i des grants to cou n ties to improve a transportation facility which is located on the State High way System or which relieves traffic congestion on the State Highway System. Dedicated Millage Rates At least four counties In Florida dedicate millage to their trans i t system: Hillsborough, P i nellas, Polk, and Vol usia These ad valorem taxes have been a major source of revenue for the systems. Florida's Constitution li m its the amount of ad va l orem taxes that may be levied by a municipa l i t y to 10 mi lls. Development Agreements A local government may agree to approve a new develop ment plan if the deve l oper agrees to provide transportation improvements or right-of-way needed to support the devel opment. Improvements are t hen turned over to the public agency, which Is responsible for maintenance and opera tion. This is a vol untary a p proach, although the resu l ting agreements are binding. The process also typicalty invo l ves some concessions on the part of the munic i pality Exactions Monetary payments, contributions of land, or infrastructure im p rovements may be required by a government agency as a condition of development app r oval. Such exactions are typically determined through negot i ations between a municipality and a developer Regulatory exactions must be roughly proportional both In nature and d egree to the impacts of the regulated activity Federal Demonstration Projects This ful)ding is promoted by congressmen who feel a p r oject is needed within their area and is appl ied for through federal a p propriation bills. Highlands County Transit D eve l opment Plan 59

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Fundraising A variety of fundra ising activities can be used to encourage l oca l bus i nesses property own ers or philanthropic groups to contribute financial assistance toward transportation activit i es Gas Taxes In essence, th is Is a user fee that enables government to tax gasoline for the purpose of funding transportation expenditur es Gas taxes are of central Importance to assuring adequate transportation funding Florida Is a leader in the us e of local option gas taxes for transporta tion fund ing. Grant s Gra nts come in a v ariety of forms and a re offered by a variety of government and pub lic age ncies private sources and foundations Grants are monetary contribu lions that do not have to be repaid. They are usua l ly d i stributed through an app li cation process, and may be for any number of purposes. Section 5311 Formula program that funds capita l and operating assistance in non-urbanized areas. Impact F ees Imp act f ees are charges levied against a developm ent project to help fund the cost of off-s ite cap ital improve ments that benefit that development. The fee I s deter mined by assessing the projected impact the development w ill have on surroun ding public facilities Fees must not ex ceed the proportionate share of the cost of serving a given development, and cannot be used to address exist ing deficiencies I n othe r words the need for new facilities must be attributable to ne w dev e lopment. Job Access and Re v erse Commute Grant Program TEA-21 creates a ne w program for Jo b Access and Reverse Commute Grants. The program is aut ho rized at $150 milli on annually ( $50 million of this amount was guaranteed In FY 1999) The guaranteed port i on rises by $25 million a year, reaching the fully authorized lev el of $150 million in F Y 2003. The program requires a 50% non-USDOT match The program provide s funding to lo ca l areas to develop transportation services designed to transport w e lfare recipients and other low-income individu als to and from jobs, and to develop transportation services for resi d ents of urban centers and rural and suburban area s to suburban employment opportunities 60 Highlands County Trans i t Devel opment Plan

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. : The Job Access and Reverse Commute Program Is a dis cretionary program. Eligible recipients for the program in,cludf!.Jocal agencies and authorities, non-profit organiza tions, and designated recipients under the Section 5307 program. In urbanized areas with a population of 200,000 or above, the MPO selects the applicants. Local Agency Partnering Local agency partnering involves the uniting of local agen cies to achieve an end that will benefit all parties. The parties voluntarily sign a contract that specifies a financia l commitment, as well as a commitment to implementation Thi s is a widely-use d form of financial support. A transit system may cross district boundaries (city to county, for instance), and the l ack of part i cipat i on by one government could have a negative effect on the other(s}. National Corridor Planning end Development Program (NCPD) This program, under the Federal Highway Administration, provides funding for planning project development, con struction and operation of projects that serve high pr i ority corridors throughout the United States. States and metro politan p l anning organizations (MPOs) are eligible for discret i onary grants for feasibility studies, plann i ng, multi state coordination, environmental review, and construction. Other Federal Programs A variety of programs and funding exist within the realm of the federal government, beyond those a l ready mentioned Because of the numerous branches of the federal govern ment, frequent changes in funding p rovision s and alloca tion, and assoc i ated restr i ct i ons in each program area, it would be n ecessary for the l ocal government agency to explore other possible funding sources Some areas whe r e funding may e xi st I nclude the Department of Commerce. Environmental P r otection Agency Small Business Admin i stration, Economic Development Admini strat i on, and the Department of Housing and Urban Devel opment. Public/Private Partnerships A public/private partnership is the pairing and cooperation of public and private resources to achieve an end that w ill benefit b oth the private d eve l oper and t he pub l ic sector A lo cal government may benefit f ro m the construction of a needed Improvement at a low cost and in a more expedi t ious manner t han could be accomplished by the govern ment. The private enter p rise may benefit from the profits earned through its implementation Highlands County T ransit Development Plan 61

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ResefV9 Fund s In reserve fund financing funds are accumulated in advance for capital improvements. The accumulation may result from surplus or earmar1\ed operational revenues, funds in depredation reserves or the sa l e of capital assets. Rural Economic Development Initiative (RED/) This multi-agency initiative focuses the efforts of state and regional agencies on problems that affect the economic viab111ty of rural communities. REDI works with local governments, commun ity -based and private organizations to find ways to balance environmental and growth managemen t issues with local needs. According to the FOOT REDI 2001 Annual Report, Highlands County has been approved and is currently eligib l e to request a waiver or reduction of project match requirements. Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) This program funding i s available in non-urbanized areas for transportation research, techn i cal ass i stance, train ing and relate d support services. The goals of RTAP are to provide training and techn i cal assistance for rural public transportat i on operators, improve professionalism and safety of rural public transit services and promote efficiency and effectiveness of rural transit services and support coordination with human service transportation Safety Funds Any unit of local or state government can request highway safety funds for projects to demonstrate, evaluate, or enhance a special countermeasure activity The applicant must show that an identified highway safety prob l em ex i sts w ithin their jurisdiction and is supported by documented evidence Sales Tax Sales tax i s a state or local-level tax on the retail sale of specified property or services. It i s a percentage of the cost. Usually, levy ing a sales tax for the purpose of fund ing special projects (such as transportation) requires a public referendum Small County Outreach Program This program provides assistance to small county govern ments for resurfacing or reconstructing county road s or in constructing capacity or safety improvements to county roads 62 High l ands County Trans it Development Plan

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.. Special Assessment Districts Special assessment districts levy a tax on property owners Viho, from specific improvements These may be initiated by local governments, developers, or property owners who wish to expedite the improvement(s) One parameter of special assessment districts Is that property owners must not pay more than they receive in special benefits. state Infrastructure Bank (SIB) This is a program under which four states California, Florida, Missouri, and Rhode Island are authorized to enter into cooperative agreements to set up infrastructure revolving funds eligible to be capitalized with federal trans portation funds This SIB program gives states the capac ity to increase the efficiency of their transportation inve st ment and leverage federal resources by attracting non federal public and p rivate investment. As loans are repaid the initial capital is replenished, and it can support a new cycle of projects State-Shared Revenue Sources Florida has two sources of state-shared revenue, which may be used for right-of-way acquisition and transportation improvements The first is authorized by the Florida Constitution and Is a $.02 motor fuel tax. Eighty percent of the tota l revenue generated is allocated for debt service on bond Issuance; the remaining twenty percent is a llocated to local governments. The second type is a $ .01 county gas tax, which is also used for county debt service State Transporlation Trust Fund (STTF) The two major contributors to this fund are state fuel sales tax revenue (of wh ich about 90 percent goes to the STTF), and the State Comp rehens ive Enhanced Transportation System (SCETS) tax Other sources include Flori da's fuel use tax, aviation fue l tax, vehicle licensing fees, initi al auto registration fees. and rental car surcharges. In accordance with .46, Florida Statutes, 15 percent of all revenues distributed to the STTF are to be dedicated annually by. FOOT for pub lic transit and capita l rail projects Public Transit Service Development P rog ram The Service Development P rogram was enacted by the Florida Legislature to provide initial funding for special projects. The program is selectively applied to determine whether a new or innovative technique or measure can be used to improve or expand public transit in an area. Service Development projects specifically include projects in volving t he use of new technologies, services, routes, or Highlands County Transit Development Plan 63

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vehicle frequencies; the purchase of special transportation services, and other such techniques for increas ing service to the riding public as are app li cable to specific localities and user groups Service Deve l opment projects are subject to speci fied times of duration, but no more than three years for system operations and maintenance procedures and no more than two years for marl
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. .... For clarity and convenience, Table 7.1 identifies the source of each funding option. Table 7.1 Source of Funding ... . . -.. .: :: .. .. .' ,_:. .'. TJX< ;.l} 1: ... ___ {._:._...::-_- . I __ o.c ___ .:. _ _ ..__:_ __ _j Bonds ./ County Ince ntive Grant Program ./ Dedicated Millage Rates ./ Development Agreements ./ Exactions ./ Federal Demonstration Proje<:ls ./ Fundraising ./ Gas Taxes ./ Impact Fees ./ Job Access and Reverse Commute Grant Program ./ Local Agency Partner lng ./ National Corridor Planning and Devel opment Program ./ Public/Private Partnershi ps ./ Reserve Funds ./ Rural Economic Development Initiative ./ ./ Rural Transtt Asslstanoe P rogram ./ ./ Safety Funds ./ Sales Tax ./ Section 5311 ./ Small County Outreach Program ./ Special Assessment DistJicts ./ State Infrastructure Bank ./ ./ State-Shared Revenue Sources ./ ./ State Transportation Trust Fund ./ Public Transit Service Development Program ./ Surfaoe Transportation Program ./ Transportation Community and System Preservation ./ Transpo_rtatlon Enhancements ./ Transportation tor Livab l e Communi ties ./ Transportation Outreach Program ./ Highlan ds County Transit Development P lan 65

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66 Highlands County Transit Development Plan

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.. TYPES OF DEMAND In Highlands County, there are various segments of mari
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low-In come People with low income have long been a stable transit marl
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, Peer Group Indian River, Florida Port Arthur, Texas San Angelo, Texas Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana Ocala, Flor ida .. Table 8.1 contains selected average operating statistics for this peer group. (Comprehensive data for each peer can be found in Appendix D.) Table 8.1 Peer Group Averages ,,.. -. -. ---'" ----t:::.' '' .. ::, .. Oc. ........ .,.z-,, c. J _, '' '-' .. ::: .. _._.. ____ ---J.-Service Area Population 78,201 Service Area Size (Square Miles) 167 Service Area Population DeriSity 1,267 Annual Passenger Trips 175,477 Annual Revenue Miles 252,703 Total Annual Operating Expense $697,365 Passenger Trips per 2.5 Passenge r Trips per Revenue Mile 0.69 Passenger Trips per Revenue Hour 10.38 To estimate potential demand for transit in High lands County based on this inform ation onf! key measure is trips per revenue hour. Th e average passenger trips per revenue hour for the selected peer group was 10.38. As detailed in Chapter 9, it Is anticipated that three buses will run 12 hours a day, 5 days a week, and two buses for 8 hours on Saturdays, times 51 weeks (6 days off for holidays). There will also be a supplementary feeder route running one bus between Sebring and Lake Placid for the same time periods. Using passenger trips per revenue hour: 9,996 revenue hours/year x 10.38 = 103,758 trips In the same way, trips per revenue mile or trips per capita can also be used to estimate ridership, as follows: Highlands County Transit Development Plan 69

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In trips per revenue m i le, the proposed routing is approxi mate l y 35 m il es i n length 146 982 revenue miles/year x .69 = 101,418 trips Using the total population of Highl ands County, passenger trips per capita would be calcula te d a s follows: 87,366 popula t ion x 2.5 = 2 1 8,415 Fo r all of these estima t e s c o n si deratio n must b e given t o the fact that t he p eer group a v erage s are derived from mature systems in much mor e de ns el y-popu l ated areas. On the other hand, t h e l o w er-th a n ave rage income and higher-than-average elderly levels that eXist In Highlands County could offset these factors. The above estimates are reflected in Table 8 2, below. Rlderahlp Table 8.2 Ridership Est im ates Low Med ium 101.418 103,758 TRANSPORTATION DISADVANTAGED High 218,415 Another way to get a perspectiv e of d emand for transpor tation in Highlands County is to r e view the trips and trip making patterns within the Tran sp orlation Disadvantaged (TO) program. ATC the Community Transportation Coordinator in Highlands County, provided CUTR with in f ormation for a ll trips taken during the month of January 2002 There were a total of 1 146 trips having origins and destinations with i n the county. Of those in-county trips, the following is a breakdown of trips between locat i ons. Avon Park to/from Avon Park 97 Avon Park to/from Lake Placi d 53 Avon Park to/from Sebr ing 469 Sebring to/from Lorida 1 6 Seb r i n g t o/from Sebring 580 Sebring t o/from Lake P la c id 90 L ake Placid to/from Lake Placid 114 Out of those 1 146 trips, 257 were to/from Lake Placid, and only 16 were to/from Lorida. The re m a ining 873 trips were i n and around Avon Park and Sebring. 70 Highlands County Transit Development Plan

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.. The 2000 Census has re-defined the Sebring Urbanized Area to Include Avon Park, as shown in Map 5, which may help to better unders tand the demand Map 6 shows every trip origin and destination in January 2002, and identifies the frequ ency of trips made to each s ite Keep in mind that TO trips are predominantly for medical purposes, and do not show demand for employment, recreationa l, social, or other trip purposes. Us i ng TO trip characteristics In Highlands County, along with density and potential origins and destinations, It was . determined that deviated fixed-route transit service is feas i ble for the Avon Park and Sebring areas, with feeder service between Lake Placid and Sebring. H ighlands County Transit Development Plan 71

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72 H i gh l ands County Transit Development P l an

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CHAPTER 9 SERVICE RECOMMENDATIONS and FINANCIAL PLAN Although a Transit Development Plan does not substitute for an operations or service plan, it provides justification for and public transportation in Highlands County. Prepara tion of a detailed Transit Operation PlaA (TOP) will be required prior to implementation of any new public trans portation service. The TOP will address detailed opera t i onal and f i nanc i al issues and will develop a specific implementation plan SERVICE OVERVIEW Based on i nput from the public and information collected from all phases of this study, it has been determined that transit is a feasible option for Highlands County. A devi ated point-to-point fixed-route service is recommended to serve the areas of Avon Park and Sebring, with a feeder service between Lake Placid and Sebring. For the fixed-route service a vehicle would operate along the designated route, making stops at certain points along the way. Vehicles will deviate up to Y. mile from the route to pick up and drop off passengers, upon request After deviating a vehicle then returns to the route and continues on to the next scheduled point on the route making sure it does not skip any stops. Route deviation is a hybr i d public transportation service with features of fixed-route, fixed schedule transit service and demand responsive, curb-to curb service (i.e., the driver will not assist the passenger to the door). Requests for route deviation must be made a minimum of 24 hours in advance. Route-
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Walgreen's Publix South Florida Community College Florida Hospital/Medical Center Area Tanglewoood Wai-Mart Lakeshore Mall Publix at Lakeview Library Downtown Circle Government Center Department of Children and Families It is recommended that there would be two buses running the route In each direction with hourly service operating 12 hours a day, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., on weekdays. Limited Saturday service is also recommended, running one bus on the route from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p .m. This means that Saturday service would be every two hours. In addition, a bus traveling between Lake Placid and Sebring would feed into the Avon Park-Sebring deviated fixedroute and operate during the same hours. This service would run approximate ly every two h ours wilh one bus traveling approximately 17 miles in each direction. Vehicles Due to the anticipate d ridership, the type of streets on which service would operate, and input fr om the public, it is recommended that smaller, 25-foot medium-duty buses be used in Highl ands County. These vehicles generally seat approximately 20 passengers, with room for up to five standees. The approximate cost of such a vehicle is $120,000. Of course, all vehicles p urchased must be handicapped accessible, and are available through the FOOT Florida Vehicle Procurement Program (FVPP). Consideration should be given to the purchase of lo w-floo r buses. A low-floor bus has been defined as a bus which has a vehicle floor sufficiently low and leve l enough to remove the need for steps for passenger boarding and alighting. Transit agencies choose low-floor buses to provide more user-friendly and easier access for all customers, in c luding adults, children, people with disabili ties, seniors, people carrying infants strollers, and/or packages. The cost of low-floor buses is more than standard buses without low-floors. 78 Highlands County Transit Development Plan

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.: .,. Legend -Road& --Proposed T r ansit Route CJ Sebring Urbanized Area -Lake Placid Feeder Route BU$Stopo

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. Fare In determining fare levels, it i s i mportant to set a price that will ensure adequate ridership, while covering some costs To keep public transportation affordable for all patrons, a base fare of $1.00 is recommended. Half-price fares should be offered to seniors, persons with disabilities, and students. The availability of half-price fares during non-peak hours of service for seniors and persons with disabilities is require d by the Federa l Transit Administration for public transportation systems that accept federa l funds ... An unlimited-use monthly pass cou ld be made availab l e at a recommended cost of approximately $30. Advantages of a monthly pass, other than the convenience and lower cost per trip, Is the option for various social service agencies to purchase them for their olients. Among sma lle r Florida transit systems, fare revenues typ ica lly offset only about 20 percent of operating expenses. Signage and Amenities To adequately serve the needs of patrons, bus stops must have adequate signage. Other amenities will be neces sary (shelters, benches, and information displays), particularly at the end of t he line (in Avon Park and Sebring). Marketing Perhaps the most critical element to the success of a new transit system is effective market ing and pub lic rel ations People must know that pub lic transportation exists, and when and where it i s available. Operations Because there is currently no fiXedroute service ava ilab le in Highlands County, is necessary to go back to lt-le pee r group data (see Chapter 8 and Append ix D) to derive approximate hourly costs. The peer group's average cost per revenue hour is $40.63. MANAGEMENT ACTIVITIES The management strategy refers to how overall pub li c transportation services will be managed, and the manage ment of day-to-day responsibilities. This description is Highlands County Transit Development Plan 81

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strategic in nature, and may need to be modified when a detailed Transit Operation Plan is developed Overall Management It is rerommended that one organization maintain overall management du t ies of pub lic transporta t ion services in Highlands County. This organiza t ion may not, neces sarily be responsible for manag i ng day-to-day operations SQme of the overa ll management responsibilities include: Grant development Contract management Marlteting activities Customer assistancelcomplaints Fu lfi lling state and federal reportin g requirements Options for the overall management of public transporta tion services include : The H ig hlands County Government The Community Transportation Coordinator A Private Transportation Management Company Day-to-Day Operations Private Sector A p rivate sector transportation compa ny could be contracted for daily operations Under this scenario the vehicles could be purchased through the FOOT FVPP program and then le ased to a private provider to operate and maintain, according to applicable County and State regulations. This will aid in decreasing opera t ing costs charged by a private provider A Request for Proposal would need to be Iss ued to allow qualified private providers an opportunity to propose for the operation of deviated fixed-route servioe Because the service Is expected to be very small initially, only one private provider would be needed Advantages Ability to quickly expand or contract pub lic transportation services Experience in transportation management Available resouroes for administrative support 82 Highlands County Transit Development Plan

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. Joint development opportunities (such as maintenance) '. .:. . Disadvantages Requires contract and overall system management for compliance with state and federal regulations, service levels, quality, safety. Higher operator turnover rate. Community Transportation Coordinator Another option for day-to-day service operation is the CTC for Highlands County, ATC. ATC has been coordinating transportation services in Highlands County for a number of years, and Is familiar with the local operators, geography, and political climate. Advantages Public transportation services could be coordinated with transportation disadvantaged services. Ex ist ing facilities and software Local experience Disadvantage Currently serve a specific client base, and not the general public County Government Another option is for public transportation services to be operated by a County department. Advantages An existing elected board (Commission) would b e directly responsible to the citizens and customers of pub lic transportation services Administrative infrastructure in place (accounting, finance, human r esou rc es) Existing fteet storage/maintenance and fueling facilities Highlands County Transit Development Plan 83

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Disadvantages Slower response to expansions and contractions of service Lacks expertise in marketing and other business approaches Lacks experience in running a transit system Lacks res ources (personnel, software) to run a transit system Recommendation It Is recommended that a transit service would come under the responsibility of the County, but that the County would develop a Request for Proposal for a management company to oversee the responsibilities of the service. This would allow the County to apply for grants and possible wa i vers that would not be available to a private o r ganization The most likely candidate for management would be the CTC. I t is r ecommended that the County acquire and own all vehicles and amenities (e.g., shelters, and signs). TRANSIT OPERATION PLAN It is recommended that a d etailed Transit Operation Plan be developed prior to the implementation of public trans portation services in Highlands County. It should contain, at a minimum: Specific, detai led routing Specific scheduling System identity (color scheme, logo, sign design) Amenities (shelter and bench locat ions) Signage Cooperative agreements with all p rivate property owners/managers Bus stop placement Bus stop design Development of RFP for operation of deviated fixe d-route service Development of Perfonnance Monitoring Program Staffing plan De velopment of marketing program Camera-ready schedules Fare policy Refined ridership estimates Bus type and paint scheme 84 Highlands County Transit Development Plan

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Sample Performance Standards from Winter Haven Achieve ridership of at least 10 passenger trips per revenue hour on all fixed routes. Achieve an Operating Ratio (Farebox Revenuesrrotal Operating Expenses) of at least 20%. Allocate at least 2% of the total operating budget for marketing efforts. PERFORMANCE MONITORING PROGRAM A performance monitoring program must be developed prior to starting any new pub lic transportation service. A performance monitoring program will proVide objective measures related to system performance (efficiency and effectiveness) and will include ben chmarks or service standards against which to measure system improvement. Operational Objectives Operational objectives should be developed for any public transportation service that Is established. The objectives must be quantified so that they may be incorporated into performance indicators Operational objectives should cover at least the following four areas: Service utilization Service quality Cost efficiency and effectiveness Safety Once operational objectives are developed, they should be used to establish the perfo rmance i ndicators that will be measured on a regular (daily, monthly, quarterly, annual) basis. Performance Indicators Performance indicato rs are the actual measures used to analyze whether operational objectives have been successfully achieved. As such, they are integra l to the process of developing a Performance Monitoring System. Quantitative methods have been developed as a standardized way of measuring the success of a public transportation system. Performance indicators can cove r the following areas: Service Utilization Passenger Trips per Revenue Hour and/or Revenue Mlle This Indicator can be measured for specific time periods or for total service day, depending on whether the information is to be used for detailed or generalized route design evaluations. Passenger Trips per Capita. This measure i ndicates the market penetration or utilization of the transit service. Highlands County Transit Deve lopment Plan 85

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Service Quality OnTime Performance Th i s is used to measure service reliability and scheduling efficiency This indicator is useful for the supervision of bus operators and for determin i ng the need for additional services or rescheduling SuNeys of Users Users of a public transportation system should be surveyed at least on an annual basis lnfonnation collected from surveys should indude suggested service changes and evaluation of service quality Cost Efficiency and Effectiveness Cost per Revenue Hour This measure is used to a nalyze the impact of incrementa l changes in service levels Safety Revenue Miles Between Ace/dents/Incidents. T h is measure is used to monitor safety related to personal casualties. non-arson fire. transit property damage greater than $1000, and collisions associate d with transit vehicles Performance Guidelines Performance guidelines are targets against which performance Indicators are measured to determine how well a public transportation system i s performing. Performance guidelines should be developed In the TOP based on peer comparisons and system goals. Gu idel ines are not absolute performance requ i rements. A variety of circumstance s can affect attainment o f pe rfo rmance guidelines It is important to ascertain whether a route is meeting the purpose for which i t was designed (for example geographic coverage or ridership performance). A property executed Performance Monitor ing Program will help management to de t erm i ne what corrective actions might be needed if perfonnance guide li nes are not met. It i s common i n the i ndustry that new service i s continuously monitored in the first two years of service Radica l changes in routing is no t suggested duririg th i s time period because the system i s attempting to develop a customer base, inst ill customer confidence a nd establ i sh service rel i ability and schedule adherence. Rad i ca l changes made too soon or too often will degrade customer 8 6 H i ghlands County Transit Development Plan

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confidence in the system, which will impair retaining existing riders and attaining new ones . ::. .-' ' FINANCIAL PLAN Up to this point, the TOP process has not been constrained by fiscal considerations, in accordance with Its strategic intent. Demographlq;, survey results, community inputin various forms, and peer and trend analyses all beell used to assess the demand for transit service and to identify the mobility needs of residents in Highlands County. The recommendations presented herein have been based on findings. The final step in the TOP process is to estimate costs for these recommendations and attempt to identify anticipated financial resources. Tab le 9.1 presents t he costs associated with the TOP recommendations. Costs in the tab le are based on assumptions, such as peer group average cost of operating expenses. These are the most reasonable assumptions available, but cost estimates should be r efined at the time the recomm enda tions are implemented, when greater detailed information will be available. (Note: Although the system will operate with three veh ic les. a fourth vehicle must be added for back-up.) Table 9.2 p r esents the capital and operating costs by year, in accordance with TOP requirements. Finally, Tables 9.3 and 9.4 present operating and capital costs, respectively, among potential funding sources. Costs of Deviated Fixed-Route vs. Demand-Response I t would take a minimum of 15 vehicles to provide demand response (curb-to-curb) service for the general public Th e matching portion of monies avai la b le for vehicles can usually be provided through toll revenue credits, meaning that purchase of capital equipment is not the greatest concern of start-up. Rather, the day-to-day operating costs, which include labor and fringe benefits, are what tend to make or break the decision to go forward with public transportatlon.improvements. In this case, operating costs for demand-response service is estimated at $18 per driver hour, based on the Highlands County 2001 Annual Operating Report for the Transportation Disadvantaged Program. Highlands County Transit Development Plan 87

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Calculated as follows: 15 (vehicles) x 12 (driver hours)= 150 hours/day 150 x 5 (days/week)= 750 750 x 51 (weeks/year)= 38 250 hours/year 38 250 x $18/hr = $688,500 in operating costs/year This annual operating cost of $688,500 for demand response service is approximately 60% more than the estimate of $406,137 for the deviated fixed-route service. Additionally, the cost for demand-response was calculated for operating five days a week, rather than the six days proposed or the fixed-route. Keep in mind, however, that if the objective of public transportation is to serve as many elderly people as poss ible, then demand-response may be the most viable option. Individualized service costs more than genera l ized service, but genera lized service can provide more trips per person 88 Highlands County Transit Development Plan ...

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Deviated Fixed-Route SeMoe Capital -Operat ing Table 9. 1 Est i mated Costs of Recommendations $ 1 20 000 $40.63 4 9,996hrs. 5406 137 $46,736 'Uses average peer g roup oosts to generate esUmatcd ann ual operating cost 2Farebox revenue Is based on an estimated farebox r&eov&ry rauo of 12% for t h e f arst year Table 9.3 Estima ted Operating Costs 'of Recommendations Among Potential Funding Sources by Year $460,000 ... .... -... -"[' ,.,.,. ./': ;-:. 1 r rlo,)71t'l.i}._ 'ff .. /. ...... ...__. __ ..._ ..... Dev iatcel Fixed-Route Service FT A Section 531 1 $119,134 $119, 134 $119, 134 FOOT Transi t BlOck Grant $119 134 $ 1 19,134 $1 1 9,134 -Local Match 5 1 1 9 1 34 $ 1 1 9,134 $119,134 TOTAL $357 40 2 $357 ,402 5357,402 10perating oosts use peer group average cost. reduO&d by projected fare revenues Table 9.4 Estimated Capital Costs of Recommendations Among Potentlal Funding Sources by Year $119, 134 $476,536 $119,134 $47 6 ,536 $1 1 9,134 $476,536 $357,402 $1, 4 29 ,608 "----==c-. .. .... ,_" _____ l .. .. -:.., l I i: ....... "'''-........ Deviated Servi ce F T A SectiOn 5311 $480 ,0 00 $480 00 0 Highlands County Transit Development Plan 89

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"' 0 :z: .a 2: Q) g. c: .:< -1 Ol "' "' 0 0 3. "0 Q) I Di>viote
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Where Are We? HIGHLANDS COUNTY TOP COMMUNITY LEADERS INTERVIEW QUESTIONS . When you hear the word "public transportation" what immediately comes to mind? How much interest in and support for publ i c transportation is there in the community? What role do you feel public transportation could p rovide to the community? Is traffic congesti on an issue in Highlands? If so, can publ ic transportation play a role in alleviating this problem? Have you ever ridden on a bus? If so, under what ci rcum stances? Describe your experience(s). Who do you think would use public transportation? Where Do We Want To Be? What should public transportation in Highlands County look like? Is there a willingness in the community to fund a public transportation system? What are the major attractionsfdestinations i n Highlands County? How Are We Going To Get There? Are there policies i n place that should be changed to better support the p:rovision of public transportation services? Highlands County Transit Development Plan A-1

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INT E RV IEWEES FOR HI G HLANDS COUNTY T OP Ken Burke Manager of Lakeshore Mall Santas DelaRosa F lori da Non-P rofit Housing Pau lin e Dionne Ma yor of Lake Placid A non Rsh Sebring Chambe r o f Comme rce Howard Godwi n H ighl ands County Sheriff George Hensley C ity of Sebring Mayor And rew Jackson H i ghlands County Commissioner Reverend Mike Kar l N ew T estament Churc h and M ission Tom Ma cklin May o r of Avon Par k Ke v in Roberts Co llie r County Human Services So nny Stalls Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce A-2 Highl ands County Transit D eve lopment Plan

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.: INTERVIEW RESPONSES Wben you hear the word" public transportation" what immediately comes to mind? A facility that operates to provide transportation to areas where public can easily access from home to work to shopping at an affordable cost. A system that is devised to transport lots of p eople from one place to anoth er . Being able to get from one place to another without always having to drive Public transportation means buses. In many places public transporta t ion brings in "undirected youth" (i. e teenagers), but is comfortable with a Dia lA -Ride type o f system. It a l so provides transportation for mall em plo yees Public transportation is a s upplement for the needy . Public transportation is buses and taxis P u blic transportat i on is buses, vans and shuttles Public transportation is buses and transportation systems Jlke HARTiine. Good for urban areas, not for rural. In H i gh l ands, it would not benefit the maJority; i t would benefit only those with no vehicle access, or those who should not drive (elderly) . A fixed rou te system with passenger payment. Highlands County Transit Deve lopment Plan A-3

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Q2. How much interest iD and support for public transportation is th ere in the community? There is a need for public transportation. There have been several attempts in the past to provide service to the needy, but it failed due to Jack of support (only a small percentage could afford to use i t) The ones who really needed it couldn't afford it though. Highlan ds County is a friendly place ; neighbors and friends can be called. Many rely on church volunteers to take them places. That is okay for a while, but then it becomes difficult, because people get tired of giving rides. There would be strong support in t h e community if do.ne correctly Doesn't know what that means, but community is socially and educationally backward Definitely a need for public transportation, but it must be unique in its design Most interest is from elderly and lo w i ncome. There should be a shuttle between the mall and downtown which may attract choice riders. T here is extreme community interest. People the i mportance of transportation There is minimal conununity interest-only from elderly and disabled communities A-4 H i ghlands Co u nty Transit Deve l opment Plan

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. : Q3. What role do you feel P'!J?Iic could px-ovide t o the community? The rol e of public transportation is safety and convenience (for the elderly population mostly safety) Safety is a role because bus transportation is safer than private vehicles. It helps the quality ofli fe and decreases hardships for e lderly and disadvantaged There is o nly one food stamp office in Highlands County, and it is l ocated in Sebring . People corning from Lake Placid and Avon Park often have to get someone to bring them. It would prov ide a valued service to less fortunate and d i sab led individuals Volunteerisrn in Highlands is very high, compared with other counties. Many church members provide transponation as s istance to other members in their church. This is also true of residents within adult comm unities. Public transportation system should not replace this type of h e l p, but shou ld augment it or provide transportation to those who are not hooked u p with a church/community/social service program. Its greatest role would be as a community social service It would also provide socialization for the needy If the public was educated about public transportation, there could be support Would have to work to get buy in There are many people without a license or car, and it would he l p to give them independence Many people walk to where they need to go, and it can be dangerous, such as elderly and babies in the heat of the summer Consequently, there is a dangero u s mix of pedestrians and automobile traffic. Concerned that it shou ld show overwhelming support before implementation Hopefully no one will "launch the balloo n with marginal support, because it won't fly. Highlan d s County Transit Development Plan A-5

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. . Q4. I s tra ffi c congestio n an issue in Highlands? If so, can p u b li c transportation play a role in allevi ating tbis p r oblem? High traffic areas on HWY 27: most restaurants and s h opping ; lo t s of construction, busy road. Compared to Tampa, no congestion; though seniors don't fee l safe to drive Maybe some congestion in Sebring Traffic congestion is seasonalnot so much the amount, but the quality o f drivers Many e lderly drivers on Hwy. 27, along with a large amount of truck traffic. Congestion is getting to be a prob lem during peak hours The mix of trucks and auto m obiles has always been a problem. There needs to be a North/South a ll eviator route N o congestion in Highlands County; i t just f ee ls uncomfortable because people are too much in a hurry ortoo slow There is not enough tr affic to warran t a coun tywi de public transportation system No congest ion in Highlands . Intersection of Highway 27 and Fairmont (in Sebri n g) supposed ly one of the busiest in Florida. Congestion i s not a problem in Highlands County Highlands County Trans i t Deve l opment P l an

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QS. Have you ever ridden on a bus ? If so, upder what circumstances? Describe your experience(s). Has ridden a bus before As a child, regularly used pu blic transportation to get arotu1d . Has ridden on a bus before . Yes, ridden on a bus many timesboth c ity and interurban tour, and national buses, all types oflengths of trips. Has ridden public transit on a regular basis, and it was a positive experience Ha s ridden a bus, b ut on l y in l arge cities that were unfamiliar If the area is familiar, driving is preferred, because i t is more convenient. Has used public transit in l arge cities. Thinks it is fast and efficient i n some places, such as New York and Washington D.C. Has ridden public transportationbus and rail when out of town Highlands County Transi t Deve l opment Pla n A-7

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Q6. Who d o you t h i.nk woul d use public t r a n s p ortati on ? Older age group would ride it the most; however, every age group of some style and variety would probably be riders, too R e tirement communit ies would enjoy regular service. Communities needing bus access : Spring Lake (past the ai1port) S un & L akes, Martin Luther King Terrace (low income), Citrus Terrace (low inc ome) migrants need to go from Sebring to Lake Placid or Avon Park for work. When they fir s t arrive it i s d i fficult but after about a month they move to wherever they are working. When res idents walk to Highway 27, it is dangerous because there is often no sidewa l ks and narrow roadways. As a result, accessing Highway 27 is difficult. Seniors, working poor for employment and individua l s with specia l needs Snowbird s and retirees larger mobile home park residents and residential development communities such as Tanglewood, Thunderbird Hills, and Washington Heights. More affluent population will not use public transportation. People would go to the ma ll in Sebri n g ; however, customer base won't pay for gas and insurance of t h e long ride Elderly people who d o not like to drive, especially at night and especially to the mall in Sebring; however, mobile home parks have buses that residen t s can ca ll and reserve to take to doctors and for shoppi n g Some nursing homes have s h utt l es too Elde rl y would ride the most, followed by low-i nco m e indiv iduals and/or those w i thout automobiles. Retirees and low-income indiv idual s would ride it. Provides tran s portation for ne cessary services and soeial activities. Users would be those without cars elderly low income young, and colleg e students AS Highlan d s County Transit Development P l an

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. ... Q7. What sho uld public tr a nsportation in Highlands County look like? ., : : .. '! Fixed-route, point-to-point, with specified locations for pick-up and drop-off, operating five or six days a week. One transportation plan for the county will be difficult. Bus is attractive as long as usage is planned Due to the large e lderly popu lation, public transportation in Highlands should be "user-friend l y easy to get on, attractive t o ride, and comfortable." In additio n, Orlando has a pick"up mini bus/shuttle service that may be a model for Highlands. Doo r-todoor service would work for women and children Highlands is a large and rambling rural area ; h omes are away from the main roads, which is problematic for servicing The major problems are scattered medical clinics and hospitals: People have d ifferent clinics they need to go to. Door-to-door s ervice provided by a number of people from a volunteer p ool has decreased Only a limited number that can go at a beckoned call. In the long run it won't work. S maller van serv ice units would be u seful. Bus on Highw ay 27 wo n't help without feeders due to homes being 5 to 8 miles from m ai n road. A Transportation System throughout Highlands County won't work because of the large service area; however individual city systems are okay Don't klio w i f public tran s portation would work because it is so spread out. Feasibility might be hard t o handle beca use of all of the small subdivisions .. Service such as a fixed route schedule would be a mone y losing situation; an on-call would probably be the most logical transportation system. H ighlands County Transit Deve l opment Plan A 9

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QS. Is ther e a w ill ingness in the c ommunity t o fund a public tra nsportation sys tem? There was a bus seiVice 4 or 5 years ago that went from downtown Sebring to tb e mall It went bankrupt. Don't know about funding: County budget was flat lined for two consecut ive years; funding is same this year as last year Budget bas been a struggle and many agencies have bad to cut back. Don't know whether they would fund or not, but would be a great asset to community Not enough people used the bus last ti m e to keep it going-probably need subsidies from county commissioners (fixed ro ute seiVice). Do not see city paying for pub li c transportation-a small geographic area (mall is not in city and the retirement mobile borne parks on Hwy. 27 are not in city). "I am skeptical that it would be financially successful." It can work with government subsi dies from the state and federal governments After aU, they seem to like to throw money at transportation like Amtrak and the airliners. There are some who would support it, but d oubt a referendum would carry it. With fe d eral grant and matching, people wou l d li k e it. If the seiVice went to the mall and downtown, this migh t attr act choic e riders. Whoever runs it has to make a buck: have to pay for drivers fuel, and systems administrator Not too many people wou l d be i n terest e d However, those in the mobile home parks (unincorpora ted areas) would be m ore interested. Reported i ncome in High l ands may be low, because there are many elderly who do not pay taxes and who have a fai r amount of disposable income (savings) Community would support system in theory but not in dollars. Maybe volunt .eer drivers could be used to s u pplement paying for such a system. A-10 Highlands County Transit Development Plan

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. . There is a willingness among smuor Cftizens to pay fair fees to aceess transportation. But the govenune n t will uot support it There is always a push to suppress taxes Ten years ago there was no support for something s i milar I am not sure about today There may be more support beca u se o f the amount of growth. Sometimes must ch o ose between going to college or owning a car, because they don't have mon ey for bot h Funding must be a sales pitch and w ill req u ire a good deal of p u blic education Highlands County is very conservative and does n ot l ike government or taxes. It will be nece s sary to show a need and the benefits. Not by raising taxes. Better if supported by state and federal grants. Bu si ness commun i ty may be suspic ious regarding the i r involvement i n such an endeavor. Should n ot be s ubsi dized on a mun i cipal level but only on county level. Funding would be ideal if paid for by users. Hig hlands County Transit Deve l opment P l an A-1 1

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. Q9. Wbat are tbe major attr actions or dest i nations in Highlands County? Destinations inc l ude Lakeshore Mall downtown Avon Park downtown Sebring, medical centers & hospitals. Bus station should be at mall. Other destinations include employment centers of Lesco and Linnpack ( 1 2 miles roWld trip for the workers from the mission, who usually wa l k, try to hop a ride, or ride a bike); $12 to get a Taxi from the airport to the mission ; $6 to take taxi fonn m i ssion to mall; 2 miles to High l ands Hospital and 8 miles to Florida HospitaL Shopping mall, downtown Sebring, hospitals (for workers and vo llUlteers who may not want to drive), courthouse/town hall area, not necessarily the airport because i t is not a "commu t er airp o rt," train station (a train arrives only a couple of times a day) In this town other than going to the grocery store, we don t have places to go (Kmart, Walmart to save a buck if service was ava il able). Other destinations include going to the mall and High l ands Regional Medical Center Dest i nations include h ospitals and doctors' offices, church on SWlday (although many churches have their own buses) and grocery shopping Development on Highway 27 is predominant. Although downtowns are attempting to maintain a sense of place, everyone m u st go to Highway 27 for shopping, medical, W a!Mart etc. Destinations are the Community College public beaches and parks, government facilities, and courthouse. Destinations include area churches . Destinations are the medical center, mall downtown, YMCA and hospitals Generators are medica l shopping, college, arid recreation A-12 Highlands County Transi t Development Plan

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QlO Are there poli cies in place that should b e changed to better support the provision of p u b lic t ransportation services? . .... . . ..... :.,--.., ' Office may need to create new policies but don't know of anything offhand Changes include ordinances as to where they would be a ll owed to stop . Not awar e of any policies that sho u ld be changed but if there are, they cou l d easily be .. restructured . Regulatory permi ts for transportation providers is very stringent. May need to be lo osened Not aware of policies that need to be changed Federal, state, and local governments need elevated respect for the importance of having public transportation. It would reduce the necess ity for social sen'i ces. If a premium was put on transportation, there would be less accidents, and improved physical and mental health Not aware of policies that should be changed Highlands County Trans i t Deve l opment Plan A-13

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Highlands County Public Transportation Feasibility Survey M 0 F 0 0 w 0 26-450 H 0 Which type of transportation do yo u use the most? A. Automobile B. Bicycle C. Tax i D. Other Have you ever used a taxi in Highlands County? A. Yes B. No If public transportation were available would you use i t? A Yes B. No 4 If yes for which purposes? A. Work B. Shopping C. Medical Appointments D. School E. Recreation F Other '""""77,.-.,-----G. Would Not Use It How i mportant do you feel public trans po rtation would be to Highlands County? A. Very importa nt B. Important C. Unimportant D. Very unimportant What do you feel is a reasonable distance to walk to access public transportation? A. More than Y, mile B. Y. to %mile c. 1 blocks D. Less than 1 block How often should bu ses run? A. Every two h ours B Every hour C. Every thirty minutes D. Every fifteen minutes E. Othe r _____ 46-600 A a 60+0 o a 8 What is the hig hest one-way fare you would be willing to pay? -------9. Should tax dollars be used to pay for a public tra nspo rtat io n service In Highlands County? A. Yes B. No C. Depends D. Don't know 10. Which of the following funding methods would you favor? A. Sales tax B. Gastax C. Special taxing district D. P roperty tax E. None of th e above A-14 Highlands County T r ansit Development Plan

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Highlands County Inventory Report: Participants Mr. Taxi ADDRESS: Lake Placid. F L 33852 PHONE: (863) 699 SERVICE AGREEMENTS/CONTRACTS: GENERAL INFORMATION : Type of Service: Service Area: SeJVice Users: SERVICE HOURS: Taxi Cab SeJVice Al l over U.S. General Public 24 hrsJ day, 7 days a week PERSONNEL: Total Employees: FARE STRUCTURE: $2.00 $1.50/ mil e OPERATING STATISTICS: Number of Vehic les Operated: 3 Average Passenger Trips: = "CATEGORIES LEFT BLANK INDICATES THE INFORMATION WAS NOT APPLICABLE OR NOT AVAILABLE High lands County Transit Development Plan B-1

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Highlands County Inventory Report: Participants Classle Transportation ADDRESS: 5Q3 Lak e Avenu e Avon Park, Florida 33825 PHONE : (863) 453-3600 SERVICE AGREEMENTS/CONTRACTS : Contracled under state of F lorida, TO Program GENERAL I NFORMATION: Type of Service : Med ica id, V e terans Servi ce Area: Service Use r s: Highlands County, Okeechobee Polk H ardee, ell of F l orida Disabl ed SERVICE HOURS : OPERATING STATISTICS: 24 hrs J day, 7days a week; office 7 5 pm 5days N umber of Vehicl es Ope
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Highlands County Inventory Report: Participants Lake Placid & Sunny Ridge Limo Service ADDRESS: PHONE: 198 N Graham Road Avon Park, FL 33825 (863) 453-3340 SERVICE AGREEMENTS/CONTRACTS: Other limousine companies GENERAL INFORMATION: Type of Service: U mousine Se c: => .:;; iii iil ;:; :? Ci i a 9 .... Mean 78.201 167 1,287 175,477 2.50 262.703 0.69 17,124 10.38 $697,365 8 .

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0-2 Highl ands County T rans it Development Plan