Streets for People / The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – A Dozen Marketing Things KW Transit Can Do to Increase Ridership

By Chris Hamilton. This story was written for and published by KONK Life on April 9, 2021 and is reprinted here with permission.

There’s no substitute for frequent and simple service, but studies show that you can get a 10 to 30 percent increase in the investment of putting bus service on the street by doing some simple and relatively inexpensive things. Things like reaching out to people and educating them about the service and how to use it, (you’d be surprised at the number of people who are intimidated about using a bus), and explaining where it goes and how often. Likewise branding and marketing can enhance existing riders experience and attract new riders to try the system. 

Market research also indicates that once someone tries a product, they are more likely to come back. But you’ve got to get them to try it first. With this in mind, we’d like to suggest to our friends at Key West Transit that they take this marketing thing way more seriously. And so, begins our story of the good, the bad and the ugly of Key West Transit marketing and our dozen suggestions for improvement.

The Good

Take out your smart phone and type in in your browser. Up pops up an easy-to-use app-like interface that shows you the nearby bus stops with real-time arrival information for each of them. Choose a bus route, like Duval Loop and then press the nearest bus stop and up will pop the arrival time of the next bus. I live on the Duval Loop route, so this works well. Test it out. We’re sure you’ll be impressed. 

The Bad

A couple years ago Key West Transit was approached by the wonderful folks at Key West Finest to be included in their popular On Duval Guide and Off Duval Guide. The guides, which always sported a map, now included the Duval Loop route and stops and an ad explaining the service. In addition, Key West Finest included Key West Transit’s Duval Loop and other bus routes in their racks all across the island. Key West Finest even offered the services of their 230,000 strong Facebook family. But alas, we are told KW Transit ended the partnership. Key West Finest didn’t know why, and we didn’t get a response from KW Transit. This is bad because it is precisely the kind of partnership the transit agency needs to do to stretch its marketing to the fullest. We’ll come back to this, but suffice it to say, Key West Transit needs more partners like the On Duval and Off Duval guides, not less.

The Ugly 

Type in on your regular desktop computer, in any browser. Go ahead. We’ll wait. Ugly, right? If they had websites in the 1980’s, this is what they’d look like. No branding. Very little information. Click on schedules and you get sent to the City’s web site. Once at the City site you’ll then find additional information about fares, rules, etc. but you won’t find that information unless you are lucky enough to stumble onto the City’s site. It is badly organized, hard to use and downright ugly.

One Dozen Things Key West Transit Can Do to Better Market Themselves 

Branding, marketing, outreach and education isn’t done as a means unto themselves but rather to get butts in seats. That means less cars on the road and that’s the the goal, right? Good communications leverage the investment in the service itself and gets you more riders per dollar of investment. The Small Business Administration says that companies should spent between seven and 12 percent of an annual budget on marketing. Our cursory look at Key West Transit’s budget shows that promotions barely register and most of that is in the hardware and software needed to run the real-time bus information. Suffice it to say, a lot more resources need to be allocated here. But we’ll reiterate that this isn’t a big expense. These are all relatively inexpensive and cost-effective solutions:

1 – Brand the Enterprise 

Bring in some professionals and brand the entire enterprise. The North and South City Lines, the Lower Keys Shuttle and the Duval Loop. Are they all distinct services of the same Key West Transit family? What brings them all together? FDOT paid South Florida Commuter Services and an ad agency (the wonderful Diaz Cooper) to come in and brand the Duval Loop from the website, to the buses, to the bus stops. It was a job well done. (Here’s the story.) Time to do it for the whole agency.

2 – Develop a Marketing Plan

Now do the same for the whole shebang. Once the professionals have gotten the branding straightened out, develop a marketing plan that is tied to the fiscal year and budget. 

3 – Create a Communications or Public Relations Center

The agency is too big and important to not have its own communications point person. This is a different skill and practice than marketing, but these days, especially with social media, they go hand in hand. Think of this as the system’s own, part-time Alyson Crean, who does such an amazing job for the Key West Police. We won’t belabor the point, but Key West Transit has had a problem with a lack of transparency. Part of communications means putting out reports on ridership, budgets, what’s been done well, and what can be done better. Importantly, having a communications arm allows Key West Transit to share how it wants the system to grow in the future and what is needed to get there. It creates advocates! Lack of transparency sow’s mistrust. 

4 – Ask Existing Customers to Spread the Good Word

To its credit, the Duval Loop has a 4.5 out of 5 rating and is ranked #2 of 11 services in the Key West Transportation (mostly private rental services) category off of 123 reviews on TripAdvisor. This is good news. Make a big deal of this. Ask customers through in-bus advertising to share their experience on TripAdvisor and other rating services and on their own social media. And these positive comments should be shared on and its social media channels. (Of course, that means redoing the website and starting some social media…)

5 – Rebuild the Key West Transit Web Site

Yes, the mobile version of the website is quick and easy to use, but for the other 50% of people who often use a traditional desktop instead of a mobile device, the current Key West Transit website doesn’t build confidence in the system. There’s a number of good firms on the island, like Wonderdog Studios KW or Duval Street Media, who could rebuild the site in a jiffy. Let’s do it! 

6 – Do Social Media

Hard to believe but Key West Transit doesn’t have its own social media presence. It isn’t like they need to be everywhere, all the time, but come on now, at least get a Facebook page. This is low-hanging fruit these days. We don’t even need to elaborate.

7 – Reach Key West Workers Through Their Employers

Employers can influence how their employees get to work – use the connection to get more people riding the bus. In transportation demand management (TDM) research, the number one strategy for influencing commute behavior is working with employers. Key West Transit should develop an easy-to-use portal on their new website for employers to become partners with the agency. KW Transit can provide each employer with a big map of the transit system/info to display in a break room with bus schedules. They can provide discounted passes for the City Lines and Lower Keys Shuttle.

8 – Reach Key West Visitors Through Hotels, Inns, B&Bs and Vacation Rental Companies

Without fail one of the first questions front-desk and concierge people get asked is how do I get around? Rather than have these folks send these customers looking for rental cars and rental scooters wouldn’t it be nice if their first instinct was to share information about the Duval Loop and other buses? But in order for this to occur KW Transit needs to make it easy to do so by providing lots of map and schedule information. Perhaps a framed route map on the wall or something that can be laid out on the desk. Simple take-one boxes that are constantly restocked and reminders of the website address so people can type it into their smartphone. Hotel staff have a million other things to do, so make it easy on them. Join the Lodging Association and attend their events.

9 – Develop a Strong Ground Game

Look around town for some great examples of a strong ground game. Start with each of the major water sports companies or the aforementioned Key West Finest. They all have excellent maps and brochures. Their people make sure these are stocked at all the lodging across the island. Their people regularly visit lodging staff to make sure they have information and are up to date on the latest offering and specials. Copy this approach and do it in-house or hire it out as there are a number of companies that specialize in this. That way KW Transit can reach the employers, lodging and retail people to carry the system’s information to the potential end users.

10 – Partner with Others

 At the top of this story, we talked about “the Bad” of KW Transit dropping the seemingly one partnership they’d actually developed, with Key West Finest ‘On Duval Guide’ and ‘Off Duval Guide.’  KW Transit should have their routes, especially the Loop, on as many of the maps and guides around town as possible. Don’t expect companies to simply do this as a public service. KW Transit must barter, trade, and pay to get there. A partnership is a two-way street and that way everyone wins. Make sure KW Transit are members of and active participants in the Lodging Association, the Business Guild, the Chamber, Mom n Pop Key West and others.

11 – Put Information at the Bus Stops

You thought we’d forget about this one? The point of purchase – or the bus stop – is one of the best places to sell the product. But you actually have to put map and schedule information at every stop. You have to brand the stop as part of the system, so it looks like the bus, the website and marketing materials. As well as a sign that tells you what route this is. This isn’t being done at even a rudimentary level. It needs to. Read the whole story here: The Sorry State of Key West Bus Stops for the full story.

12 – Promote ALL Alternatives to the Car, Not Just the Bus

Studies show that transportation choice and options are what people want. Those who use one form of alternative transportation, like a bike, are more likely to want to use another mode, like the bus, or a scooter or Uber, Lyft and taxis or a even a vanpool. So Key West Transit should promote and provide information for all alternative modes and become an Alternative Transportation Agency. Perhaps KW Transit can take over the forgotten Car-Free Key West web site and Facebook page. People today often like to make one-way trip decisions, perhaps taking the bus in to work and catching a taxi home. Being a one-stop shop for all the alternatives to driving is a way to lift ridership on the bus.

A Small Investment Leverages Big Rewards

As we said out the outset, nothing would move the needle on increasing ridership more than Key West Transit finally instituting free, frequent and simple service. But research also tells us that you get more use out of whatever service you put on the street if you market it well. This is something Key West Transit doesn’t do at all. It needs to start now. And if their management says they don’t have the money, then the City leaders need to allocate it. Doing otherwise is pennywise and pound foolish.

# # #

You can find all the KONK Life Streets for People column articles here and and here (non-paywall) recent stories below:

Chris Hamilton
Chris Hamilton

A native of the District of Columbia, where for a couple decades+ he led the nationally renown Commuter Services unit for Arlington County, VA’s DOT, Chris has lived in Key West since 2015. He lives downtown and works and volunteers for a couple non-profits.

Streets for People / The Sorry State of Key West Bus Stops – We Just Don’t Care

By Chris Hamilton. This story was written for and published by KONK Life on April 2, 2021 and is reprinted here with permission.

Experts say, the bus stop is one of the biggest signals, to everyone in the city, about a community’s attitude toward buses and their customers. What do Key West Transit’s bus stops say to residents, workers and visitors? Judging by their quality and lack of information one would have to answer: “We just don’t care!”

If you are unfortunate enough to have to take the bus, the City seems to be saying to customers and potential customers you can fend for yourself. On the City’s North and South Lines, the bus stops consist of a pole with a sign that has a generic graphic of a bus on it. That’s it. 

Where does this bus go? When does the next bus come by here? There’s no route designation, so am I standing at the North, South, Lower Keys Shuttle or Duval Loop bus stop? Or is it a private shuttle? No map with an identifying “You are here,” so one can ascertain if the bus even goes where I need to go. No schedule so one can figure out when something might come by, let alone a real-time information sign. No shade. No bench. No branding. No marketing. Not even a website address to let you know where you might get some information. 

The Duval Loop stops, aimed at hundreds of thousands of tourists, are barely any better. If one is lucky, you’ll find a sign with a bus stop number on it. So, IF you happen to already have a map (their lack of marketing and outreach will be fodder for a future story), you may figure this means something. Otherwise, what exactly does a number 8 on a bus stop sign tell you? If you are really lucky the sign might actually say Duval Loop. Yay! Okay, well at least you know what route it is. But like with the City Lines, where does it go a and how often? You don’t get a clue.

Successful bus companies convey their bus system matters through thoughtful branding and amenities at the point of purchase – or the bus stop. What better place to tell the world that your customers matter or that if you aren’t a customer, we’d love for you to be one. 

There’s no excuse for this sad state of our bus stops. The City rebuilt most of Duval Street during the shutdown, so why couldn’t they install some information signs at all the poles? I mean if the lovely Dee Dee Green at Key West Recycles can install cigarette butt dispensers at most of the Loop stops, how hard would it be to install the bright pink signs atop the pole and map and information guides at each stop. Come on man, this was in the original plan (below) in 2017. Why hasn’t it been implemented in the four years since? Well, because “We don’t care!” 

Good Bus Stops Can Be Inexpensive and Yield High Dividends

According to the good folks at the research think tank TransitCenter: “The good news is that upgrading bus stops is relatively cheap and yields high dividends. The cost of one bus shelter ranges considerably depending on factors such as design, size, and place, but typically amounts to between $2,000 and $15,000. Smaller upgrades — such as benches, trash cans, or signage cost much less. Transit agencies should view bus stop improvements as low-hanging fruit for improving transit service – and growing ridership. Research show that stops and their surrounds factor heavily on the rider’s experience of taking transit, and that great bus stops can drive ridership. Better stops entice new riders to try the bus.”

Even placing real-time arrival info at bus stops can be done relatively inexpensively these days. Shouldn’t at least some of our highest use stops like near the Park n Ride Garage have these?

In TransitCenter’s Why Bus Stops Matter report they surveyed 3,000 people and did numerous focus groups and said the two most important factors driving satisfaction with transit service are frequency and travel time. Something we’ve covered extensively as Key West Transit’s City Lines have 90–120-minute waits between buses and the Duval Loop’s original “frequent” 15–20-minute service has been creeping upwards of 30 minutes lately. (see Sustainability Board Wants to Make Free, Frequent and Simple Key West Transit a Reality; February 4, 2021. However, the report goes on to say that riders also value stop conditions and real-time information. The point being, taking care of the bus stops is taking care of business and needs to be done.

Says the National Association for City Transportation Officials (NACTO) in the Transit Street Design guidebook: “Design stops as introductions to the transit system, paying special attention to how transit space interacts with the sidewalk and adjoining buildings. Comfortable stops with shade trees, shelter, places to sit or lean, and nearby business activity can anchor an improved local pedestrian realm and improve rider perceptions of transit service. Branding and distinctive stations serve to advertise frequent service, while clear information saves people time—and bolsters ridership.”

Research has shown when bus riders have amenities like benches, shelters and trash cans, and map and schedule information they perceive waits to be shorter. When one provides real-time information, customers actually don’t mind longer waits. And bus stop amenities may even help improve ridership. Something Key West Transit sorely needs.

Key West Transit Needs to Do Better

People around here get mad when the Welcome to Key West sign and the landscaping around it looks bad. They rightfully get mad when the grass isn’t mowed in the medians. Or when the streets aren’t cleaned. Or the beaches aren’t raked. Or the sidewalks have gum and other debris on them. We don’t like when bikes are locked to trees and fences and we don’t like cigarette butts in the gutter. So why in the world do we put up with bus stops that look like they belong in some third world country. Why on earth do we tell the hundreds of thousands of visitors to our little island and our residents and workers that we just don’t care when it comes to our transit system. This is especially egregious when we feign to want people to leave their car and get around by alternative transportation. 

There’s no excuse. This isn’t rocket science. And it doesn’t cost a lot of money. Let’s get this done Key West! We deserve better.

# # #

Recent stories from the KONK Life Streets for People column:

Chris Hamilton
Chris Hamilton

A native of the District of Columbia, where for a couple decades+ he led the nationally renown Commuter Services unit for Arlington County, VA’s DOT, Chris has lived in Key West since 2015. He lives downtown and works and volunteers for a couple non-profits.

Streets for People / It’s Time to Reconsider a Road Diet on S. Roosevelt and Make the Promenade and Road Safer

By Chris Hamilton. This story was written for and published by KONK Life on March 26, 2021 and is reprinted here with permission.

At its meeting on March 31, the City Commission is poised to enact a new e-bikes ordinance that will ban e-bikes and e-scooters from city sidewalks and limit their speed to 15 mph on multi-use paths, like the North and South Roosevelt Boulevard Promenades. That’s a good thing! – (SeeAverting E-Bike Mayhem and Making Key West Sidewalks Safer; February 12, 2021.) But it begs the question, if e-vehicles and bicycles shouldn’t be on sidewalks, don’t we need to make our streets safer? Can we start by separating bikes and scooters from pedestrians? And all of those, from vehicles on S. Roosevelt Boulevard?

To borrow a phase, Yes, We Can! 

FDOT’S Rebuilding of S. Roosevelt from Bertha to the End of the Smathers Beach is an Opportunity for a Road Diet

Although it has been delayed by a few years, FDOT is reconstructing a one mile stretch of S. Roosevelt, from Bertha Street to the end of Smathers Beach, with improvements to the seawall and drainage work as they had done previously from the end of Smathers Beach around to Flagler Avenue. Work should finally begin in a couple years. In 2016 they started discussions with the City and citizens on potential restriping options for this segment as part of the roadway rebuild.

FDOT’s engineers and planning consultants presented options to redesign the street surface up to the existing curbs that they said would be safer and would maintain traffic flow and volume on the segment. They recommended a road diet

What’s a Road Diet? 

Typically, it is the reduction of lanes on a roadway and is done to improve safety and/or provide space for other modes of travel. In this case, FDOT in responding to calls for: increased vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle safety; increased walkability; adding bicycle facilities; maintaining the parking; and reducing speeding; recommended going from two through lanes of traffic in each direction to one lane of traffic in each direction with a middle turn lane for people entering the hotels and condos. This would also provide extra room for bicycle facilities in one configuration or another. So, it would make the road both safer and provide separated space for other modes. Win. Win.

Key West Citizens Say, Yes Please, Let’s Do a Road Diet

The citizens who participated in workshops and surveys loved this idea. They preferred Options 1 or 2 (below), which included one through lane in each direction, a center turn lane for cars, and bikes lanes on each side of the road or the same three car lanes with a Two-Way Bicycle Facility (pictured at the top of the article and in a photo example from Rio de Jeneiro). So did City staff. Said then Engineering Director Jim Bouquet in a memo at the time to the Commissioners: “Choosing the two-lane option for South Roosevelt will better support a transportation system which is aesthetically attractive, functional, efficient, safe and environmentally sensitive.” 

Change Is Hard and Commission Says No

But as has happened more often than not with our beloved Key West leaders when met with something new and different, they balked. Ignoring FDOT, city staff and the citizens, the City Commission voted 5-2 that FDOT should keep the configuration just the way it was, because well, we don’t want to inconvenience cars (even though FDOT said traffic flow and volume would remain the same). 

Commissioners Kaufman and Weekley were the only two who embraced change. Commissioners Wardlow, Lopez, Romero, Payne and Mayor Cates voted for the status quo. And by keeping it the same, it means that bicycles, e-bikes, e-scooters, pedestrians and beach goers will continue to share the promenade sidewalk along the beach.

But Wait, There’s Still Time to Reconsider and Make the Road Safer

If you watch this short video clip of the February 7, 2017 meeting at which the Commission made the decision, you might miss that in answer to a question from Commissioner Lopez, then City Manager Jim Scholl says that yes, this decision can easily be revisited because it’s mostly just surface or paint changes to the asphalt that would be needed. And since the project’s been pushed back to 2023, they haven’t even done the final design engineering for the top of the roadbed. So yes, if the City really wanted to, they have time to reconsider this change. 

Commissioners Kaufman and Weekley are already on board. Commissioner Lopez seemed open to the idea. And Mayor Johnston and Commissioners Davila and Hoover seem more open to bike, walk, transit and streets for people safety measures than previous members of the dais. Maybe even Commissioner Warldow will change his mind, as we know he has railed against e-bikes and e-scooters on sidewalks. So maybe, just maybe we can get this done. Especially now that we’ve got the addition of e-bikes and e-scooters to the mix that weren’t discussed in 2017. Let’s hope our leaders have the will to make change for the better this time around.

# # #

Recent stories from the KONK Life Streets for People column:

Chris Hamilton
Chris Hamilton

A native of the District of Columbia, where for a couple decades+ he led the nationally renown Commuter Services unit for Arlington County, VA’s DOT, Chris has lived in Key West since 2015. He lives downtown and works and volunteers for a couple non-profits.

Streets for People / Getting the Parking Right Leads to Streets for People – Part 2: Battling Our Inner George Costanza – Ten Things We Can Do in Downtown Key West to Get the Parking Right

By Chris Hamilton. This story was written for and published by KONK Life on March 19, 2021 and is reprinted here with permission.

Parking is a big topic, so we broke this piece into two stories. Last week we set up the problem and discussed why the topic should be addressed in “Part 1: Nobody Goes there Anymore. It’s Too Crowded.” This week we discuss specific solutions in Part 2: Battling Our Inner George Costanza – Ten Things We Can Do in Downtown Key West to Get the Parking Right. 

Summary Recap of “Part 1: Nobody Goes there Anymore. It’s Too Crowded – Six Reasons for Right Pricing Parking”

There are approximately 3,000 on-street parking spaces in Old Town below White Street. About 1/3 of these spaces are metered, 1/3 are marked Residential and 1/3 are unmarked. Residential Permits can be had for $20 annually or $0.05 cents per day. The unmarked spaces are FREE. That means two thirds of downtown’s public, on-street parking spaces are virtually FREE. Traffic and parking congestion is the result. Islanders often don’t want to go out to eat or a movie or shopping downtown because they perceive the streets are too crowded. 

If we want to make a dent in traffic and parking congestion, we need to apply the right parking strategies and manage our community’s parking to its maximum. We can’t give it away or subsidize it (underprice it), as this exacerbates congestion AND works against people using alternatives to driving.

Six Reasons for Right-Pricing Parking:

  1. Discourage Cruising for Free On-Street Parking
  2. Encourage Turnover for Retail
  3. Encourage Visitors to Park in Long-Term Lots and Keep Them There
  4. Fairness and Equity
  5. It’s a Wasteful use of Valuable Land
  6. Additional Revenue for Transportation Alternatives

In a January, 2021 community survey of Key West residents, done in conjunction with the new Key West Strategic Plan, just released by the City, parking and traffic flow were in the bottom three of the worst rated services of the City, coming in at 16 and 17 of eighteen rated items. This underscores that, yes, people perceive there is a problem.

The George Costanza Parking Conundrum

A collage of a person and person in a car

Description automatically generated with low confidence

When a city undervalues parking by providing free, nearly free and underpriced metered parking, many people think like George Costanza and always believe if they just try hard enough, they’ll find a spot. In one of the most popular Seinfeld episodes of all time – the 39thepisode called “The Parking Space,” – Elaine tells George to just put the car in a garage because he’s never going to find a parking space. But George, like most Americans, is loath to pay for parking. And that’s the dilemma. If people, whether they are visiting for a few days, parking for a work shift, or coming downtown for dinner, know there are free or nearly free parking spaces out there, no matter how rare they are, they are going to circle the block and go round and round until they find one rather than put it in a longer-term lot. And as we learned in last week’s story, that just leads to more congestion on our streets. It’s the same here in Key West. 

We can tell visitors to downtown to park in the garages and long-term lots, but if they believe they can find a free or nearly free spot, well damnit, they are going to spend 10 or 15 minutes to find that FREE spot. And that’s what makes downtown so congested and that’s what gets people so frustrated when they “can’t find parking.” Here’s some solutions.

Ten Things We Should Do in Key West

As evidenced by the recent Community Survey, seemingly everybody thinks there is a parking and traffic problem. The thing is everyone comes at this a little bit differently. Some people “can’t ever find parking” when what they really mean is, they can’t find free on-street parking within a block of their destination. Others can’t find parking in front of their home on Thomas or Fleming or Olivia Streets. Businesses get frustrated when their customers can’t find nearby parking. The parking and traffic problem is really as varied as there are individuals, because what’s a problem for one person on one block isn’t exactly the same on another block. 

With that being said, the following proposals are meant as a starting point for discussion. Thoughtful people can fine tune the details and numbers. But we stand by the general thrust of the basic points. We should do these things because they will improve our quality of life, business prosperity for Mom n Pop Shops, and our environment. The fact that taken as a whole they may raise some additional revenue is a bonus. Oh, and that additional revenue, should be designated to transportation alternatives and infrastructure improvements downtown. We should also stress that you need to do most of these things in a coordinated fashion. They work together. They support and build upon each other. 

1 – Raise the Price on Metered Parking

In most places downtown, $4 an hour is too cheap to price this valuable real estate asset. Especially when surveys show the minimum to park in most garages, or lots is $5 or more per hour. Raise the rates to $5 or more immediately. Vary the prices so that it is more expensive during peak periods of the day and peak times of the year. For the very most convenient spaces, consider using a progressive price structure to favor short-term users. For example, charge $5.00 for the first hour, $6.00 for the second hour, and $7.00 for the next and so on.

Meters Must Be Priced Higher Than Garages/Lots. If the City is considering raising garage and parking lot rates at its facilities, we must remember the on-street metered rates always need to be more than surrounding garages and lots, and that needs to be common knowledge. Otherwise, people will want to try and park on the less expensive street spots first and that leads to the Constanza cruising congestion problem. 

2 – Reform Residential Parking Permits – Raise the Price to Reflect the Value

The purpose of these permits is to regulate parking by giving residents priority over available designated spaces. Enabling them to park close to their residence. 

As the number of spaces allocated to this program downtown (approximately 1,000) is scare, the price should take this into account. $20 for an annual permit comes out to $0.05 cents a day. $0.05 CENTS A DAY! To ease into this how about next year charging $60 annually for the first vehicle. At $5 a month, this is still a bargain as garages charge upwards of $200 monthly. Charge $120 for a household’s second vehicle and progressively on up. Then raise these rates automatically with inflation so this doesn’t become a political hot potato every year.

3 – Reform Residential Parking Permits – Institute a Zone System

Residential Permit Parking is intended for residents to be able to park within a few blocks of their home. Zones should be small and only available to people who reside or have a business within that zone. This is common practice throughout North America. Wikipediasays “residential zoned parking is a local government practice of designating certain on-street automobile parking spaces for the exclusive use of nearby residents. It is a tool for addressing overspill parking from neighboring population centers such as a business or tourist district. “

In Key West there’s only one Zone. It covers the entire City, including Stock Island. Anyone can purchase this pass for $20 or $0.05 cents a day. The permit allows folks on Stock Island to drive into downtown and use one of those 1,000 on-street Residential Permit Parking spaces for virtually FREE. As long as they like. For people living north of White Street, the only reason to get a pass is to be able to park for 5 cents a day downtown. 

The people who live in the core in Bahama Village, the Seaport or around the Cemetery are the ones that need a permit to ensure parking near their home. But with 10,000 to 12,000 annual permits out there and only 1,000 Residential Permit Parking spaces, those spaces are hard to come by, especially in season. Let’s say that again, there’s at least 10 permits for every one parking space.

It isn’t fair to the people who live downtown. Perhaps we should just call these passes what they are, Residents Please Drive and Park Anywhere You Like for Free Passes and not pretend to call them what they aren’t. Most people aren’t using them to park near their own home, but they might be using them to park near your home. We often hear the tired argument that “I pay city taxes, so I should be able to park for free anywhere in the City I want.” But if these people lived on Elizabeth, Emma or William Streets, would they really say the same thing? Doubtful.

How many zones are needed? That’s a good question. We have 3 Commission Member Districts and 6 Voting Precincts downtown, perhaps those boundaries could be used for three to six zones downtown and one big zone for the rest of the City? How many different micro-neighborhoods do we have? Or perhaps you just use one zone for downtown and one for the rest of the City? However, you slice it, having multiples zones is better than having none.

The Residential Parking Permits would still get you 4-hours free at the beaches and select lots and garages all over downtown, but people who don’t live nearby would no longer compete with people who actually live on a block. All the zones could be $60 or perhaps just the downtown zones are $60, and the other zones are $30? 

4 – Put Hourly Limits on the 1,000 Unmarked Spaces Downtown

There are at about 1,000 unmarked, free spaces in Old Town below White Street. One can park in these spaces for three days or 72 hours before having to move a vehicle. THESE are the parking spots that the George Costantza’s among us, whether they be overnight or day visitors or uptowners and non-islanders without Residential Permit Parking passes, look for. Limit the parking in these spaces to a certain number of hours, say 4 to 6 hours between the hours of 8 am and midnight. This encourages people who are visiting to use the long-term lots. We might also consider turning more of these spaces over to Residential Parking Permit and more to metered parking spaces. 

5 – Allow Use of Hourly-Limited Unmarked Spaces for People with Residential Permit Parking Permits 

For persons that live in the City and currently have a Residential Parking Permit but don’t live downtown, they might say that the Zoned system (#3) doesn’t allow them to park close-in for nearly free anymore. For persons that live in a downtown zone, they might say well now that you’ve instituted 6-hour parking on the unmarked spaces, if I find one of those, I can’t use it. However, this proposal (#5) would allow ANY Residential Permit Parking holder, from any zone, the right to use these spaces, as they were previously, for up to 72 hours at a time. The signage for the unmarked spaces would say: 

“6-Hour Parking, 8 am to Midnight, 
Except Vehicles with Any Zoned Residential Parking Permit.”

You’ve likely seen these kinds of restrictions, all over the country. They work to push visitors to long-term parking lots or garages.

6 – Reform the City’s Employee Parking Program and Get Employers Involved 

We need better data, but anecdotally we find people who work downtown complain about the lack of parking as they hunt for those elusive 1,000 free unmarked spaces or if they live in the City and have a Residential Parking Permit also try to find one of those spaces, which then frustrates people who live on the block.

There are two City programs to help employees out. 

  1. There’s an Employee Parking Lot Permit, for $25 a month, that allows employees to park in the Truman Waterfront Park or the Park n Ride Garage at Grinnell and James Streets at the Seaport. Employees can also park behind the County building on Whitehead after hours and on weekends. The Duval Loop also serves all three points to take people for free anywhere in downtown.
  2. Employee Assistance Parking Permit. This premium permit allows the user to park in ANY metered space, without feeding the meter for 12 hours a day. It costs $175 a month + 7.5% sales tax. It is valid for one specific vehicle. 

Keep #1, Reform #2, the Employee Assistance Parking Permit. It may seem like a lot of money, but consider that for downtown parking, surveys show that a monthly permit in a private garage costs between $200 and $225. In fact, the City’s Public Park n Ride Garage at the Seaport charges $200 per month + 7.5% tax for a monthly permit. So, buying one of these permits is less expensive than using a private lot or the public garage. There are about 350 of these permits in circulation. So that means 350 of the choicest metered parking isn’t being used by customers of nearby shops but by people who should be parking in long-term lots. Also consider that because these are the choicest metered spots, although that $175 in revenue per month may seem like a big haul, it is likely less than would be brought in if hourly users were getting those spots. DO AWAY WITH THIS ELITIST PROGRAM and turn the spots back over to people who are shopping and dining. 

Get Key West Employers More Involved. Unlike many other cities where we find employers provide their employees parking or a tax-free parking or transit stipend, we find that Key West employers tend to leave how their employees get to work, up to the employees. The City and/or Chamber should work with downtown employers to help them provide information and stipends to use the Employee Parking Lot Permit, stipends to use Key West Transit and the Lower Keys Shuttle and even stipends to use for bicycling to work. 

7 – Make It Easy to Find Long-Term Parking with Better Wayfinding

Direct people to long-term garages and parking lots with better wayfinding signage and marketing before they get downtown and through downtown, all the way to the destination. This way visitors aren’t hunting all over the place for on-street parking. Even better, coordinate all the lots and garages and direct people to those less full by providing coordinated dynamic signage. 

Don’t forget to develop a truck/delivery plan for downtown so it is less congested with delivery and trash and recycle vehicles at all times of the day. Coordinate the merchants and plan the hours.

8 – Build a Park-n-Ride Lot on Stock Island and Bus People In

This idea has been talked about for decades. The recent 10-Year Key West Transit Development Plan calls for expanding the current Key West Transit facility on Stock Island to establish an Intermodal Center with bus transfer facilities and a park-and-ride for personal vehicles and tour buses. The plan calls for busing visitors to downtown every 15 minutes, seven days a week on a free Key West Intermodal Connector bus “allowing the reduction of ever-increasing congestion and parking demand.” Let’s finally get this done.

9 – Make it Easier to Get to Key West Without a Car

 When asked “How they got to Key West”? in a 2019 TDC Visitor Profile Survey, overnight visitors said: 36% by personal vehicle, 29% rental vehicle, 8% fly into Miami and rent a car for a total of 73% by car. Twenty-three percent (23%) flew directly into Key West Airport, 3% into Marathon Airport and 1% came by tour bus. I’m surprised the ferry numbers didn’t even register, but the numbers beg the question about why we don’t have better ground and water transportation alternatives to get to the island from the mainland. 

According to a 2019 Study published in the Journal of Transportation Demand Management at the University of South Florida entitled “Toward Car-Free Key West” by Mary Bishop the author cites a dramatic drop off for people renting cars on subsequent trips to Key West because they realize that once here they don’t need a car to get around. Perhaps the TDC’s marketing efforts could reiterate how compact, flat and easy Key West is to get around without a car and encourage people to get here by plane, ferry and coach buses. 

The County and the State should be encouraged to invest in more ferry and long-haul bus service and dare we even say some sort of rail all the way to the island.

10 – Make it Easier and Safer to Bike, Walk and Take the Bus

Coupled with all of this parking management activity is the knowledge that if we expect more people to switch from driving alone everywhere, we need to radically remake Key West Transit so that all routes resemble the Duval Loop – free, frequent and simple. We need to make it safe to bike everywhere in town by slowing cars down and providing protected bicycle lanes, greenways, trails and lots more bike parking. We also need to make it safer to walk. We need to slow the cars and give preference to pedestrians on our crowded downtown streets – not cars. 

Result – Streets for People, Not Just Cars 

When we right price our valued downtown on-street parking via these parking management techniques and coordinate them with robust bike, walk and transit alternatives, it makes our streets more efficient and less crowded. 

By vanquishing our inner George Costanza, we’ll have less cars on our streets and we just might get to turn over more of this valuable community asset to encourage more space on our main commercial streets downtown for wider sidewalks for people to sit, chat, eat and people gaze. It doesn’t have to be entire streets. It can be parts of streets or even just parklets. We might be able to turn over more of that asset for protected bicycle lanes and bicycle parking too. Or use it for trees, art and pop-up vendors.

Doing all this will be more friendly to our environment and help combat climate change. It makes us healthier. And happier too. Very importantly it helps local Mom n Pop businesses prosper. It will help us build a thriving, vibrant downtown that visitors AND residents will be happy to go to because it won’t be perceived as so crowded – with cars – anymore.

# # #

Chris Hamilton
Chris Hamilton

A native of the District of Columbia, where for a couple decades+ he led the nationally renown Commuter Services unit for Arlington County, VA’s DOT, Chris has lived in Key West since 2015. He lives downtown and works and volunteers for a couple non-profits.

Streets for People / Getting the Parking Right Leads to Streets for People – Part 1: Nobody Goes there Anymore. It’s Too Crowded – Six Reasons for Right Pricing Parking

By Chris Hamilton; This story was written for and published by KONK Life on March 12, 2021 and is reprinted here with permission.

Parking is a big subject, so we’re going to break this story into two. This week we’ll set up the problem and discuss why the topic should be addressed. Next week we’ll discuss specific solutions in: “Part 2: Battling Our Inner George Costanza – Ten Things We Can Do in Downtown Key West to Get the Parking Right”

Part 1: Nobody Goes there Anymore. It’s Too Crowded – Six Reasons for Right Pricing Parking

There are approximately 3,000 on-street parking spaces in Old Town below White Street. About 1/3 of these spaces are metered, 1/3 are marked Residential and 1/3 are unmarked. Residential Permits can be had for $20 annually or $0.05 cents per day. The unmarked spaces are FREE. That means two thirds of downtown’s public, on-street parking spaces are virtually FREE. And the metered spaces are fairly low priced.

In addition, City and County employees are provided free parking downtown and people with those’ $0.05 Cents a Day’ Residential Permit Parking passes can park FREE for four-hours in many close-in City and County lots and the beaches. What’s the result of all this underpriced parking?

“Nobody Goes There Anymore. It’s Too Crowded.”

Yogi Berra

Traffic and parking congestion is the result. It ruins everything. In a City-sponsored survey in 2015, traffic was ranked the number three “biggest issue” on the island, behind affordable housing and cost of living. We often hear residents lament something along the lines of the old Yogi Berra saying in referring to downtown Key West. “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” Islanders often don’t want to go out to eat or a movie/entertainment or shopping downtown because they perceive it’s too crowded. The streets are too congested. It’s too hard to find parking. There are too many cars. Many people don’t consider alternatives because they perceive all that traffic and parking congestion makes it less safe and easy to bike downtown. And our City bus system is in need of a radical overhaul if we expect people to actually use it

You Can’t Eat Your Cake and Then Still Have It Too

So why do we have so much free and nearly free parking if it only exacerbates the problem? Why are we making it so easy to drive when it just makes downtown too crowded to want to go to? Perhaps because our leaders want to have their cake and eat it too. Meaning, although research, data and common sense tell us providing a scarce commodity like parking for virtually nothing causes problems, our politicians are loathed to do anything about it because they want the majority of their car-driving constituents to be happy or at least experience no pain. But is anybody really happy when half of us won’t go downtown because it’s too crowded and the other half is unhappy because there is never any parking available in their neighborhood.

In a January, 2021 community survey of Key West residents, done in conjunction with the new Key West Strategic Plan, just released by the City on Wednesday, March 11, parking and traffic flow were in the bottom three of the worst rated services of the City, coming in at 16 and 17 of 18 rated items. So, if the City leaders think that by sticking their heads in the sand and not addressing the parking issue by right pricing parking, they are making the voters happy, they are sadly mistaken.

If we want to make a dent in traffic and parking congestion, we need to apply the right parking strategies. We must manage our community’s parking to its maximum. We can’t give it away or subsidize it (underprice it), as this makes congestion worse AND works against people using alternatives to driving. Somebody has to have the guts to say enough. 

Six Reasons for Right-Pricing Parking

When you have a scarce resource like parking spaces and you have a lot of demand for that resource, the best way to manage that is to price it properly. It’s a simple economic principal. But to get there, perhaps we need some additional reasons to undergird the decision to right-price parking. These six reasons help further explain, why we need to do so:

1 – Right Pricing Parking Discourages Cruising for On-Street Parking

When a city undervalues parking by providing free, nearly free, and underpriced metered parking, many people think if they just try hard enough, they’ll find a spot. When you undervalue street parking it encourages driving and causes congestion. Research indicates that in some congested downtowns up to 1/3 of cars are cruising for underpriced curb parking. This cruising causes congestion and pollution.

“A surprising amount of traffic isn’t caused by people who are on their way somewhere. Rather it is caused by people who have already arrived. Our streets are congested, in part, by people who have gotten where they want to be but are cruising around looking for a place to park.” says Parking Guru and UCLA Professor Donald Shoup in this article: Cruising for Parking.

Professor Donald Shoup Author of The High Cost of Free Parking

2 – Right Pricing Parking Encourages Turnover for Retail

Metered parking should be tailored to encourage turnover in retail areas to help small Mom and Pop shops. People who want to park for longer periods should be directed to long-term parking lots. Also metered parking should reflect location and time of day/week/season. For example, metered parking one block from Duval or retail shouldn’t be the same price as metered parking three blocks away. Likewise, parking rates, Christmas through Easter, should be higher than in the off-season. Right-pricing metered parking is a science according to Donald Shoup. So, what’s the right price for curbside parking? According to the professor and author of The High Cost of Free Parking, “the right price is the lowest price you can charge and still have one or two spaces available on each block.” He says the sweet spot for pricing meters is where 85% of parking spaces in a given area, at a given time, are occupied or one or two open spaces per block. If the spaces are always full or empty than you’ve missed the mark.

In our case, people visiting downtown look for either an unmarked free space or if they have a Residential Parking Permit, they can look for those too. The problem is, close-in residential streets are where everyone wants to find this free parking, making it very difficult for those who live in the core to park in their own neighborhood, let alone their own block or in front of their home. Likewise, when we underprice metered parking, it encourages people who should be using long-term lots or even could be using the bus or biking, to drive and park for work. This doesn’t help retail, restaurants and attractions.

3 – Right Pricing Parking Encourages Visitors to Park in Long-Term Lots and Stay There

According to a 2019 Study published in the Journal of Transportation Demand Management at the University of South Florida entitled “Toward Car-Free Key West” by Mary Bishop, 82% of visitors to Key West arrive by vehicle, either their own or a rental. The same study referenced the Key West Chamber saying there were 2.7 million visitors to Key West in 2015. In answering the question “How did you get to the Keys for this trip?” in a 2019 TDC Visitor Profile Survey overnight visitors said: 36% by personal vehicle, 29% rental vehicle, 8% fly into Miami and rent a car for a total of 73% by car. Twenty-three percent (23%) flew directly into Key West Airport, 3% into Marathon Airport and 1% came by tour bus. 

However you slice and dice the data, THAT’S a lot of cars on our little island. Overnight and day visitors, prefer to find free parking. Many of our downtown hotels, inns and B&Bs don’t provide adequate parking. So, faced with a choice of hunting for those elusive 1,000 unmarked free spots downtown or paying upwards of $20 a day or night for parking, it isn’t surprising that many overnight and day visitors choose to try and park in the neighborhood.

4 – Right Pricing Parking is Fair and Equitable for All

Former New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn said: “Streets are some of the most valuable resources that a city has, and yet it’s an asset that’s largely hidden in plain sight.” Streets and sidewalks take up 25 to 50 percent of a typical U.S. city’s land. New York City, for example, is on the lower end of that scale at 28 percent and Chicago (42 percent), Washington D.C. (43) and Portland, Oregon (47) are at the higher end. I wish I could figure out Key West’s percentage, but it is likely in this range. Is it fair that so much of our community’s valuable asset is provided so cheaply for the sole purpose of providing car storage for people who can afford to own and maintain cars? Simply put, the answer is no.

Providing parking isn’t free. And no, the gas tax you pay doesn’t cover the cost of maintaining our roads. General taxes on everyone pay as much or more. The cost of land, pavement, street cleaning, and other services related to free parking spots come directly out of tax dollars (usually municipal or state funding sources). Each on-street parking space is estimated to cost around $1,750 to build and $400 to maintain annually. In a place like Key West, the cost is likely higher because this doesn’t include the cost of the real estate underneath the asphalt. “That parking doesn’t just come out of thin air,” Shoup says. “So, this means people who don’t own cars pay for other peoples’ parking. Every time you walk somewhere, or ride a bike, or take a bus, you’re getting shafted.”

5 – Right Pricing Parking Limits a Wasteful Use of Valuable Land

According to Zillow the average value of real estate in Key West is $692 per square foot. We realize that real estate downtown around Duval Street is worth even more, but we’ll be conservative here. Say that typically on Duval, half of that value is for the land or $346 per square foot. A typical parking space is 160 square feet (20″ x 8″). Do the math. That parking space is worth $55,360. Would you give this away free or underprice it? How would you price the value of something we say we want less of?

Put this another way. 3,000 on street parking spaces is equivalent to 110 acres of land (3,000 parking spaces x 160 sq. ft. = 480,000 sq. ft = 110.2 acres).

Notes on #4 and #5

(Note this section was added a day later in response to people’s reaction to #4 and #5 above.) No it doesn’t exactly correlate that this valuable land, that is a community asset, could be easily turned into something new. That’s fair. But before the invention of cars, streets were used very differently in cities, they weren’t just used for movement. They were bazaars, gathering places, and playgrounds. They were places of communal life and everyone had access to them and was allowed to mix there. It was only with the advent of the car that engineers displaced everything else.

When there’s an affordable housing crisis and bikes and pedestrians are squeezed on our streets, is using all this land for car storage really the best and most fair use of this valuable land? Could some of that car parking be turned into parklets or pocket parks? Be used for popup venders and artists? Be provided to restaurants and retailers for cafe seating and showing of wares? How about instead of car parking we widen the sidewalks or add protected bikeway networks? That would be more fair and show we value other things besides private car storage.

6 – Right Pricing Parking Provides Additional Revenue for Transportation Alternatives

While not the main goal of right pricing parking, it will bring in additional revenue. A good portion of that additional revenue should go into the City’s Transportation Alternatives Fund or TAF that provides things like the Duval Loop and City bus service, the Transportation Coordinator’s salary, bicycle racks, bus stop signage, protected bicycle lanes, wayfinding signage and more. 

As you can see, there are many reasons why we’d want to right price and properly manage our parking supply. Next week, on March 19, we’ll bring you specific solutions in: Part 2: Battling Our Inner George Costanza – Ten Things We Can Do in Downtown Key West to Get the Parking Right.

# # #

Chris Hamilton
Chris Hamilton

A native of the District of Columbia, where for a couple decades+ he led the nationally renown Commuter Services unit for Arlington County, VA’s DOT, Chris has lived in Key West since 2015. He lives downtown and works and volunteers for a couple non-profits.

Streets for People / Eight Things We Can Do to Pedestrianize Duval and Still Allow Cars

By Chris Hamilton; This story was written for and published by KONK Life on March 5, 2021 and is reprinted here with permission.

The idea of closing Duval Street off to vehicles after a certain time of day has been talked about for decades. People love the idea for obvious reasons, but we often get stuck on the details. Conversations usually devolve into “close the block entirely to cars” or “you can’t do that because…” and so nothing gets done, as there’s seemingly no in-between or compromise way to do this. 

“When asked what they like most about a city they have visited, almost no one answers: The cars whizzing by on the streets. Cultural attractions, the people we meet, walking through the city and gazing at plazas, buildings, and places—these are the things that make a city unique.”

Brooks Rainwater, National League of Cities

We give credit to Mayor Johnston and Commissioners Weekley and Kaufman for trying with the Mall on Duval, but even that little 3-block experiment, eventually got smothered by whining and opposition and withered away in a 4-3 Commission vote against extending it any longer. It did beget a Duval Street Revitalization Study, so something good did come out of that pilot project.

Whether part of the long-term strategy being considered by the Duval Street Revitalization Study or as a short-term temporary strategy leading up to more permanent infrastructure solutions, in thinking about closing off a block to cars we have to think about things like these:

  • What about access for delivery vehicles? 
  • What about seniors, people with mobility or ADA issues that need to be dropped off at the front door? 
  • What about taxis, Ubers and Lyfts? 
  • What about the hotels and inns with access off of Duval? 

Good questions, but certainly something we can overcome, if not accommodate these considerations, right?

Provincetown, Massachusetts Shows the Way

If we don’t ban cars outright, perhaps we institute a 5 MPH speed limit and simply allow people to walk in the street. The example of Commercial Street in Provincetown, Massachusetts comes to mind, as they do something similar in their season, during the summer. They have small sidewalks and a narrow street and so they allow people to walk in the street. Notice in these pictures of PTown there are indeed cars on the street. But in this case, the sheer number of people forces a vehicle to slow down. There are people riding bikes too. But if you look at the pictures closely, you’ll notice that sometimes the number of pedestrians makes bike riding uncomfortable and so people are walking their bike. Even though Commercial Street is their main retail and activity street, unless people in cars really need to use it, they try to avoid it, especially in the afternoons, evenings and weekends during the season. It works. No extra police. No infrastructure. People know the nature of the street and everyone adjusts.

Some people will say, Key West is different and unique. Yes, we know. Duval Street is wider. True. Commercial Street is a one-way street and Duval is two-way. Also, true. Provincetown’s a special case. Okay, that’s a given, but so is Key West And this is where our conversations usually get derailed because well, the powers that be are loathed to try anything from someplace else. We know. We know. We are unique and do things our own way. But there is growing evidence from around the world that people adjust to these types of situations and that it can be done. So why can’t we figure this out in our own Key West way?

“Shared Streets” or “Woonerfs”

This isn’t a new concept. A Woonerf is a Dutch term for a street shared by cars, bicycles and people as equals. Woonerfs are alternately called “Shared Streets.” Although cars are allowed in most — but not all — of the zones or blocks of a Woonerf, they are generally restricted to “walking speed” with the onus of responsibility for safety entirely on the driver. Bikes cede the right of way to pedestrians. Instead of dividing a street with barriers like curbs, sidewalks and bike lanes, everyone uses the street simultaneously and cars are forced to drive slowly. There are things called Slow Streets, but usually those are associated with residential neighborhoods. And these aren’t Complete Streets, which accommodate all users but do so with separate infrastructure or lanes for pedestrians, bikes and vehicles. 

“Woonerfs are designed to allow cars, but they aren’t designed for cars. Cars have to behave themselves in a different way.”

Stan Eckstut, the lead architect in a huge Washington, D.C. project called The Wharf DC, in an article about its growing use in North America.

8 Things We Can Do to Pedestrianize Duval and Still Allow Cars

Here’s some things we can do right now, or incorporate into future, more permanent infrastructure plans for Duval Streets and some of the surrounding downtown commercial blocks:

  1. Set the speed limit at 5 MPH.
  2. Get rid of on-street parking so people aren’t coming down the street looking for it (up to one third of traffic are people looking for a parking space).
  3. Ban cars outright on a few blocks at certain times of day, thus alleviating people trying to traverse the entirety of Duval for a sight-seeing adventure and giving a few blocks that want it, more of the “Mall on Duval” experience.
  4. Not allow cars on one side of the street or one-way some blocks to allow retailers, restauranteurs, artists and pop-up vendors to use the space and have vehicles go around these.
  5. Discourage through traffic. If you come down the block it is because you are making a delivery, dropping off or picking up passengers or you are going to a specific destination that has off-street parking or needs access on that block (like a hotel).
  6. Encourage private and public parklets in former parking spaces.
  7. Install barriers, barricades and signs that make it clear you are entering a Pedestrian Zone and to protect seating and displays.
  8. Educate visitors, residents and workers that this area works this way.

Is this a perfect solution? No. Is it a compromise? Yes. But in the face of the seemingly all or nothing conversations we’ve been having for decades on closing Duval Street to cars, perhaps this can be a start for discussion. We wouldn’t need to do much planning nor infrastructure improvements to implement this on some blocks as a pilot project. Perhaps the consultants doing the Duval Street Revitalization Study could use tactical urbanism, as we did on the Crosstown Greenway, to test some ideas out? 

Doing these things wouldn’t have to be permanent, so if we want to reconfigure the street in the future, we can change things. Duval Street is something that should bring us all together. The idea is to do it quickly, get a win and feel good about doing something that will be healthier and more prosperous for our Mom n Pop shops in response to this Coronavirus mess. Repaving Duval Street was a nice start. Now let’s make it for everyone, not just cars.

# # #

Chris Hamilton
Chris Hamilton

A native of the District of Columbia, where for a couple decades+ he led the nationally renown Commuter Services unit for Arlington County, VA’s DOT, Chris has lived in Key West since 2015. He lives downtown and works and volunteers for a couple non-profits.

Streets for People / How We Get Wider Sidewalks Downtown Without Ripping Up the Streets – Parklets

By Chris Hamilton; This story was written for and published by KONK Life on February 26, 2021 and is reprinted here with permission.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see Duval Street with more room for people? Benches and places to sit? Seating for outdoor cafés and room for retailers to show off their wares? More greenery? Art? Pop-up retail, food space or musician space that doesn’t take over the sidewalk and force people to walk single file? Many people envision all or parts of Duval Street and our historic downtown as pedestrian-only zones, except for delivery vehicles, so that we could accommodate these ideas. While the Duval Revitalization project is supposed to address these issues, it hasn’t started yet. Let’s face it, even if the community agrees on an approach, it could be years before something is actually built. One way to “widen our sidewalks” and add more people activity to our Main Street quickly would be to allow businesses, organizations or even the City to install parklets in space that is currently used for car parking.  

What’s a Parklet?

Parklets are spots for people. Not cars. Parklets are an extension of the sidewalk out into the street, usually in what was formerly a parking space – thus the name. They are intended to be used by people, usually to sit, either as an open park or as part of a retail establishment nearby. They are often temporary and can be built quickly and relatively inexpensively. So, putting these in now wouldn’t preclude more permanent infrastructure changes in the future. In fact, this little bit of tactical urbanism would be a nice way to test out wider sidewalks before going to the expense of rebuilding the street. It might be a way for restaurants to add capacity at a time when they have decreased the number of tables inside to meet physical distancing guidelines.

According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Street Design Guideline manual: “Parklets are typically applied where narrow or congested sidewalks prevent the installation of traditional sidewalk cafes, or where local property owners or residents see a need to expand the seating capacity and public space on a given street. To obtain a parklet, property owners enter into an agree­ment with the city, in some cases through a citywide application process, procuring curbside seating in place of one or more parking spaces.”

Downtown Has Plenty of Places to Install Parklets

There are places along Duval where there is currently parking (300, 800, 900 blocks) or where the sidewalk narrows for temporary parking (200, 500, 600, 700 blocks) where parklets could be installed. On Upper Duval, beyond Truman Avenue, there’s parking on both sides of the streets, providing additional spots for parklets.

Parklets shouldn’t just be for Duval Street. Anywhere near Duval or how about anywhere downtown where there are groups of retail shops, should be able to participate. Southard (Frita’s Cuban Burgers, Mr. Z’s, Key’s Coffee, The Café and Miso Happy), Fleming (The Roost and Clemente’s) and Eaton Streets (Flaming Bouy and Glazed Donuts) between Simonton and Whitehead are perfect places to add street vitality. Why not on White Street? Where else?

Parklets Can Be Public or Private Third Spaces 

Installing retail sponsored parklets provide opportunities for restaurants to provide dining for customers. Installing public parklets provide anyone with a place to stop, rest, have a drink from another establishment and people watch. Studies show that older folks especially consider sidewalk furniture important. Another benefit of public parklets is the community of Third Places. A public space to sit draws people to slow down and chat and share and recognize their neighbors. Saying “meet me in front of that little park in front of the shop” now means I can sit down. Coffee shops are a great example of Third Places but you have to buy something to use it. A public parklet become a Third Place and that creates community. We need both privately sponsored and publicly sponsored parklets. And publicly sponsored doesn’t necessarily mean City-sponsored. It could be a nearby retail shop, a civic or non-profit group or a general benefactor. 

Imagine some rainbow benches with visitor information installed in front of the Business Guild shop at 808 Duval. Or some wine themed furniture next door in front of Vino’s on Duval? Perhaps some greenery and public benches in front of the Oldest House Museum in the 300 block instead of cars? Or maybe some the art vendors that usually use the same side of the block and force people to walk single file, have a little space of their own in the parking space instead of the sidewalk, thereby making the sidewalk wider? 

Public and Private Organizations/Foundations Can Fund and/or Build Them

Parklets would help further enliven the street and their extension into the right of way would slow down cars. Perhaps grants can be given to groups to build these? Restaurants and retail shops could build their own or team with others to help them. The TDC could provide money. Or CFFK. Team with Key West Hight School and/or arts organizations to help design, build and decorate them like was done with the trash and recycling on the street.

We need to make the permits for these free during this build back period and restaurants should NOT incur additional charges for the new outdoor seating. This is something we should encourage as making it onerous for businesses or groups to participate will kill any effort to enliven the street.

We Can Widen Our Sidewalks and Build Streets for People Sooner Than Later

The dream of revitalizing Duval Street and making it more pedestrian friendly doesn’t have to wait for a study and an infrastructure rebuild to happen. If we could simply widen our existing sidewalks by taking over some of the space being used for car parking, we could get closer to that dream right now.

# # #

Chris Hamilton
Chris Hamilton

A native of the District of Columbia, where for a couple decades+ he led the nationally renown Commuter Services unit for Arlington County, VA’s DOT, Chris has lived in Key West since 2015. He lives downtown and works and volunteers for a couple non-profits.

Streets for People / The Wee Donkey, Whataboutism, Bathwater and Duval Street’s Future

By Chris Hamilton; This story was written for and published by KONK Life on February 19, 2021 and is reprinted here with permission.

From a Promise by Mayor Johnston to a Full-Blown Project

The Mayor ran on a platform of revitalizing Duval Street in 2018. She came through by initiating the Mall on Duval pilot project in 2019 and that begat a Duval Street Revitalization Study RFQ in 2020. An amazing consultant team was selected at the August 19, 2020 City Commission meeting, a contract was signed by both parties in November and agreement on a budget and scope of work for Task 1 of the project should come to the Commission in March. Then the fun starts as the consultant begins data collection and community outreach. And thus, begins our story of the Wee Donkey, whataboutism, bathwater and Duval Street’s future…

What is Duval Street Revitalization?

According to the City’s Request for Qualifications the goal of the project is to “renovate and revitalize Duval Street to increase opportunities for public use as an iconic civic space for leisure, commerce and tourism; address the infrastructure which will allow for reasonable maintenance frequency and reduce costs to businesses and taxpayers; improve safety for pedestrians and vehicles; and maintain mobility for desired transit operations for all users.” 

“We all love our main street and want to see it prosper and bring our community together” said Mayor Johnston in championing the RFQ:

“Mall on Duval brought locals downtown who haven’t been there in years, prompting a conversation about what improvements need to be made, including widening sidewalks — they range from 8 to 18 feet — and adding planters and benches. There are street designs that have the sidewalk on the same level, and you divide it off by concrete planters. The street can be cobblestone and the sidewalks can be different materials. … We also need shade, benches and water fountains.”

Mayor Teri Johnston in 2019

On local Facebook groups and blogger sites, residents and businesses talk about the need for: 

  • more space for people and wider sidewalks
  • parklets
  • more street trees and shade
  • benches so one can take a break and sit 
  • art
  • water fountains
  • opportunities for outdoor cafés and retail displays, and
  • closing some blocks to cars, some of the time to allow for mini-street festivals and Friday Happy Hours that draw residents downtown to shop, eat and play. 

What that ultimately looks like, well that’s the hard part.

Mary, Joseph and the Wee Donkey! 

Last week Keys Weekly did a story on the upcoming project entitled Key West to Start Redesigning Duval Street(Mandy Miles, February 12, 2021). It featured this picture from the consultant that depicts an artist’s rendering of a potential future Duval Street.

A picture containing building, outdoor, street, city

Description automatically generated
The artists rendering was included in the consultants original RFP response as a potential future for Duval Street. It was a featured picture in the Keys Weekly article and most people couldn’t get past the picture and read the story.

All hell broke loose on the Key West Interwebs in reaction. On multiple Facebook groups and local gathering places was heard:

“Don’t Miami Key West!”
“Don’t Las Vegas Key West!”
“Don’t Orlando Key West!”
“They are ruining the charm!”
“Hate it!” 

These were the most common and charitable comments. But the kicker was this from friend and local Key West Island News publisher Linda Grist Cunningham: “Mary, Joseph and the Wee Donkey! That is one horrific “rendering.” Linda went on to say: “If that’s what’s in their imagination, if they think it’s OK to use a conceptual drawing that has no charm, no connection to the island, Key West’s mystique is gone.”

And you know what? Linda and all similar commenters are exactly right. We want Key West, Duval Street and our little historic downtown to be what they are – Key West! Not someplace else. 

Linda, to her credit took the conversation a step further and wrote a very nice piece Revitalizing Duval – Let’s Meet in the Middle (February 16, 2021) saying “It’s a project and process I support.” She reiterated her rightful objections to the rendering and then smartly talked about five consistent threads she gleaned from the comments that we likely can all agree on:

  1. Keep Key West’s shabby-chick, historic look-and-feel
  2. Add green stuff (think shade trees)
  3. Fix the flooding
  4. Make real room for pedestrians, but don’t close Duval
  5. Clean things, paint things, repair things

Whataboutism in Full Bloom

While many people rightly took to the discussion decrying “other-towning” Key West, many people simply reverted to Whataboutism – the practice of responding to a difficult question by making a counteraccusation or raising a different issue entirely. Here’s just a little sample from the chatter:

“But what about fixing Bertha?
“But what about fixing Whitehead?”
“But what about the potholes on other streets?
“But what about fixing the other side of the island?”
“But what about the residents?”
“But what about helping local businesses stay afloat?”
“But what about helping locals open businesses?”
“But what about fixing the beach?”
“But what about affordable housing?”
“But what about workforce housing?”
“But what about all the people with no masks?”
“But what about the stupid mask mandate?”
“But what if I like to drive my car on Duval?”
“But what about fixing the airport?”
“But what about investing in (fill in the blank) instead?”
“But what about the children?”

Perhaps legitimate questions all. But NOT in the context attempting to revitalize our Main Street. 

Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater

Knee-jerk whataboutism responses just take all communication off topic. Perhaps that’s the user’s goal? By bringing up other subjects entirely, it makes it less likely we can have a constructive discussion of the issue at hand. Or it makes it more likely that nothing gets done. That’s short-sighted.

So, let’s agree not throw the baby (Duval Street Revitalization) out with the bathwater.

“The last facelift on Duval was back in the 1970s. Now we begin the process of community involvement — public meetings, gathering ideas, talking to property owners – to find out exactly what each member of this community would like to see happen. There is no preconceived plan, that’s where the community’s opinion and vision comes in. This is an opportunity for all of us to have a hand in what we envision for our city,”

City Manager Greg Veliz

So, let’s focus on Duval please. As the Mayor and Manager have said, the vision for Duval Street will ultimately come from we the people who live here and the businesses downtown. 

We’re in Good Hands

In the consultant’s qualifications they teased out a few things for us to consider. We like the notion of Duval as three streets with one name. Lower, Middle and Upper Duval each have their own vibe. Ideas such as innovative tree planting systems, pavers with curbless sidewalks, retractable bollards, innovative tree grates and trench drains present opportunities for doing things differently. The possibility of one-way blocks to narrow the vehicular path to expand the pedestrian zone and tree cover and additional benches, cafe’ seating and art are the essence of the “streets for people” we advocate for. 

KCI/Dover Kohl cited a number of similar projects that should make us feel good about their bona fides. To name a few there’s Clematis Street in West Palm Beach, Music Row in Nashville, Las Olas Boulevard and Breakers Row, in Fort Lauderdale, and Lake Worth Beach Design Guidelines to name just a few. To reiterate, we don’t want Key West’s Main Street to look like any of these places, but these two firms are adept at listening to locals and coming up with planning and engineering solutions to help guide us to a unique and better future. At Friends of Car-Free Key West & Duval Street/Historic Downtown we have been following the Facebook page of Dover Kohl for a long time and love their point of view. KCI Technologies is the kind of engineering and construction firm that will help make our project real and environmentally and sustainably sound. 

The track record of the consulting team and their approach give us faith in the process. The fact that the Mayor and City Hall are behind this and willing to invest in our downtown is grounds for optimism. The fact that so many people love our island and want to thoughtfully participate, give us hope.

The Times, They Are a Changing

Lastly, the other common online comment thread was some form of:

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
“I don’t want anything to change.”
“It’s fine just the way it is.”
“Leave it alone.”
Yada, yada, yada

This isn’t really a constructive response either because change happens whether or not you want it to and the opportunity with this project is to try to direct that change a bit. Key West in the heady times of the overseas railroad in the 1920’s until the hurricane in ‘35 was different from the military dependent times thereafter. The funky, laid back 1970’s was altogether different after the cruise ships and tourist boom came here in the late 80’s and 90’s. It is different still today. It has constantly been changing. Here’s how our friend, local artist John Martini sums it up in response to the “it ain’t broke” and “whataboutism” crowds:

“Key west is not a museum. Key West history is a story of nothing but change.

Let’s participate, have our voices heard and create an improved Duval Street appropriate to the resident’s needs. There is no plan until the citizens make known their needs. You can participate or you can continue on as keyboard warriors accomplishing nothing.”

John Martini, local Key West artist

Indeed. Let’s move past the horrific rendering, agree not to whatabout this project and positively participate in the Duval Revitalization process to build a better future for our little island paradise. 


Other Recent Duval Street Stories:
Chris Hamilton
Chris Hamilton

A native of the District of Columbia, where for a couple decades+ he led the nationally renown Commuter Services unit for Arlington County, VA’s DOT, Chris has lived in Key West since 2015. He lives downtown and works and volunteers for a couple non-profits.

Streets for People / Averting E-Bike Mayhem and Making Key West Sidewalks Safer

By Chris Hamilton; This story was written for and published by KONK Life on February 12, 2021 and is reprinted here with permission.

Thanks to Mayor Teri Johnston and Commissioner Sam Kaufman’s persistence, at its February 17 meeting, the City Commission will take up an ordinance to ban e-bikes and electric standup scooters from our sidewalks, to limit these e-vehicles and micromobility devices to 15 mph on multi-use paths and lift the year-old moratorium on new companies renting these vehicles. This is good news, especially as we’re big proponents of electric bikes and scooters as part of the bicycle, walk and transit options mix for the island.

Fear of Deluge of E-Rentals Begets Moratorium

A year ago, in February of 2020, the City Commission put a 180-day moratorium on new companies coming in and renting motorized or non-motorized vehicles. The impetus was the fear of rental electric bikes and electric standup scooters overrunning the town, specifically overrunning our sidewalks and making them unsafe for pedestrians. The moratorium was said to be needed to review data on traffic safety and capacity as leaders figured out what to do. 

New Florida Law Regulates E-Vehicles

On July 1, a new Florida law provided for three classifications of e-bikes or pedal assist and throttle bikes and gave them all the rights, privileges and duties of human powered bikes, meaning they could operate anywhere a regular bike could operate, including a sidewalk. However, the new law also gives counties and municipalities the ability to regulate their use on sidewalks. 

Mayor Doesn’t Like First Draft of Ordinance

At the Commissioner’s October 6 meeting they extended the moratorium by another 180-days or longer in order to complete the tasks needed to get an ordinance in place, citing the Coronavirus as a reason for the delay. At the City Commission’s final meeting of the year on December 2, City Attorney Shawn Smith let everyone know that since a draft ordinance was part of his annual goals for the year, he was presenting them a draft, codifying the new State rules in the City’s ordinance, thereby meeting his goal. However, this draft did nothing to address safety on the sidewalks or streets, in fact it simply permitted e-bikes and e-scooters on sidewalks, like bicycles. The Mayor’s response:

“The ordinance essentially says open the city’s streets and sidewalks to e-vehicles and let them come in. I had great concern about that because we have no data on sidewalk safety, on where these vehicles go, how we control them, how we monitor them. Because of our lack of bicycles lanes, we have shoved everything onto our sidewalks which, I think we can all agree that they’ve become very dangerous…. We’ve got small sidewalks. We’ve got busy sidewalks. And we’re trying to put one more form of transportation on them. We need to know how to do that safely.”

Mayor Teri Johnston

The Mayor rightfully wasn’t satisfied. She asked for some data on potential conflicts between e-vehicles and pedestrians and wanted safety recommendations, including how to ban these vehicles from sidewalks, as part of a package. Commissioner Sam Kaufman suggested that the City’s Transportation Coordinator, Tim Staub, be given more sway in final recommendations.

New Draft of Ordinance Comes Together

Mr. Staub got some quick pedestrian and bicycle counts on local paths and researched options for regulating different classes of vehicles on the sidewalks. The Mayor reached out to some local bicycle advocates, including Ryan Stachurski, Roger McVeigh and me and discussed Mr. Stuab’s ideas. 

It was easy enough to use the new State law and simply insert language in the City ordinance banning e-bikes and e-scooters from sidewalks that aren’t part of a multi-use path. Multi-use paths include the Promenades on North and South Roosevelt, and the designated paths on Bertha Street, Atlantic Boulevard and Palm Avenue. The e-vehicles, by State statute, can’t be banned from the multi-use paths. However, e-vehicles can be limited to a certain speed, and that’s exactly what the new ordinance does, setting the speed limit at 15 mph, when these vehicles typically travel at 20 mph and above.

E-Bikes and E-Scooters will be banned on all sidewalks except on multi-use paths designated by the dotted green line shown here. E-bikes and e-scooters will be limited to 15 mph on these paths.

The City Attorney’s Office worked with Mr. Staub to address the Mayor’s and Commissioner Kaufman’s ideas and concerns and got something positive done. At Mr. Kaufman’s urging the new ordinance provides exceptions to e-vehicles on sidewalks for children and persons with disabilities.

“We all want our sidewalks to remain safe for our residents and visitors alike. The increased use of electric bicycles and other electric motorized devices on sidewalks has created increased safety concerns. We also want to promote the safe operation with alternative means of transportation to reduce automobile traffic and parking congestion. We need policies that achieve a balanced approach on our island especially for areas with more narrow streets and sidewalks.

These amendments promote the public’s health, safety, and welfare by conforming commercial rental vehicle regulations with Florida Statutes and providing additional safety precautions with the use and rental of electric bicycles and electric motorized devices.” 

Commissioner Sam Kaufman

Ordinance + Signage + Education + Safer Streets = Success

The new ordinance, which also lifts the ban on and sets permit fees for the rental of these kinds of vehicles, is a positive advancement for safety on our streets. It even instructs those renting these vehicles to notify their customers of the rules of the road for their use so hopefully, tourists won’t use these on our sidewalks unknowingly. 

We’d also add that the City should do three things to ensure compliance with the new ordinance:

1. Install signage on the multi-use paths regarding the speed limit.
2. Engage citizens and visitors with education about where e-vehicles can and cannot be used, and
3. Embark on a broader project at making our streets safer for bicycles and e-vehicles by following up on the success of the Crosstown Greenway and implementing more elements of the Bike Master Plan. If people are using the sidewalks, it is because they feel unsafe in the streets. Making our streets safer for everyone will ensure pedestrians can use our sidewalks and not worry about getting run down. 

Mayor Johnston, Commissioner Kaufman, the Transportation Coordinator and Attorney’s Office should be applauded for their diligent work and a job well done. Everyone should ask their respective Commissioners to support the new ordinance and the follow-up it deserves.


Chris Hamilton
Chris Hamilton

A native of the District of Columbia, where for a couple decades+ he led the nationally renown Commuter Services unit for Arlington County, VA’s DOT, Chris has lived in Key West since 2015. He lives downtown and works and volunteers for a couple non-profits.

Streets for People / Sustainability Board Wants to Make Free, Frequent and Simple Key West Transit a Reality

By Chris Hamilton; This story was written for and published by KONK Life on February 5, 2021 and is reprinted here with permission.

Once again, the City’s Sustainability Advisory Board (SAB) is on the leading edge of creating positive change. At its January 14 meeting, the Board, adopted a Fare Free Resolution calling on the City to raise metered parking rates by $0.50 cents and target the new revenue for making City routes fare free, increasing frequency on the new North and South Routes and increasing driver pay in order to compete with other entities and improve reliability. If there’s any money left over, they stipulated it should go into the Transportation Alternatives Fund for other alternative modes. In recent years past the SAB has championed the creation of the Duval Loop and the City’s Transportation and Bicycle Coordinator positions. This is a good idea that needs to be supported by residents and the business community.

Free, Frequent and Simple – Duval Loop’s Formula for Success

Launched in August of 2017, the Duval Loop quickly became a favorite of visitors and the lodging, attractions, restaurant and retail businesses in our downtown. The service is successful because it is FREE, FREQUENT (buses arrive every 15-20 minutes) and has a SIMPLE route that is easy to understand. In 2019 more than 410,000 trips were taken on the Loop. More people rode the Loop than the other four City bus routes and the Lower Keys Shuttle combined. It is only 3 years old and is universally hailed as something the “City did right!”  Two actions during the last year testify to this success:

  1. At the May City Commission Meeting where a $1 fare on visitors using the Loop had been imposed, a record number of 28 residents and downtown business people used the online e-Comment system to voice opposition to instituting a fare.
  2. After a six-month failure at trying to raise revenues by instituting a fare on visitors using the Duval Loop, the City Commission reinstated the Loop’s FREE fare by a 7-0 vote at its October 20, 2020 meeting because the City’s 17-Point Covid Recovery Plan, developed between citizens and business groups, said free downtown transit was vital to local mom n pop businesses and so identified it as a core measure for downtown business recovery.

With residents and business interests agreeing not to mess with success and with ridership data that says it works, why not duplicate that “Free, Frequent and Simple” success formula on the other routes? Well…

Key West Transit’s 10-Year Plan Foretells Free, Frequent and Simple

The City’s 10-Year Transit Development Plan (TDP), adopted in late 2019, is an ambitious, progressive plan promising a system of “Loops” (Duval, Old Town, Midtown, New Town, Stock Island) to be connected by a few simple “Connector” routes; Airport (along S. Roosevelt), North (along N. Roosevelt), KWIC (Key West Intermodal Connector on Stock Island), and the Lower Keys Shuttle). In addition to the simple Loop and Connector routes, the Plan calls for 15–20-minute frequencies between buses and discusses moving towards free fares. So, the Sustainability Advisory Board isn’t going out on a limb here. Free, Frequent and Simple is actually called for in the City’s adopted 10-Year Transit Plan.

Simple Routes Come to Key West Transit in May

When Key West Transit began operations again on May 16, after having been out of service since the beginning of the shutdown in late March, they quietly reemerged with just two “simple” City routes, North and South Lines, that mainly travel along North and South Roosevelt Boulevards to downtown where they intersect with the Duval Loop. They replaced the four meandering, circuitous, serpentine, snaking, winding, twisty, tortuous, hard to understand Red, Orange, Blue and Green routes. Here they are below.

The Four Old Red, Orange, Blue and Green City Routes
The Two New North and South Lines

So, it looks like Key West Transit got the simple. But then things stalled. Enter the Sustainability Advisory Board.

“I see no reason that a city like Key West, with our favorable geography, should not be able to do as many other cities have done and provide free of charge transportation to our residents and hopefully we can bring bus driver’s wages up to a competitive and living wage.”

Dakin Weekley, Chair, Key West Sustainability Advisory Board

Why Free Fares Makes Sense

Downtown resident and SAB Member Eric Detwiler recognized the need for more action beyond the simplified routes and so gathered data, collaborated with City staff on a plan and pitched a resolution that provides a mechanism, via the additional parking meter revenue, to get this going sooner than later. From Mr. Detwiler’s presentation to the SAB we glean a few main points:

  • Bus fares cover only 10% of the cost of operations
  • Costs associated with collecting fares may be equal to the revenue the fares bring in
  • The time taken to collect the fares contributes to the slowness of the buses
  • The time a bus is stopped on the street while collecting fares contributes to congestion
  • The Key West residents who are riding the buses are likely the least able to pay
  • Other Florida bus systems have gone fare free with significant positive impacts on ridership
  • The Duval Loop example

Why Frequent Service is Needed Now

Research from around the globe identifies frequency as the most important aspect of useful transit. Why? People hate waiting. The longer the wait between buses, the more anxious people grow. The more anxious they are the less likely they are to take the bus. While Key West Transit has simplified their awful, old, rambling and confusing routes, the frequency is still terrible. Here’s the current schedules:

Each line only has 10 trips in per day and 10 trips out. That’s 80 to 90 minutes between each bus at any given point. To top it off, the last trips out from downtown leave at 7:20 pm. And service is even less on the weekend. According to their own customer survey, Key West Transit riders say “more frequent service” is the most needed improvement and “more weekend service” is number two.

And if current riders don’t like the frequency and span of service, how in the world are we going to attract new people out of their cars to use the bus. The level of service is simply not adequate for anyone contemplating this for work or school or any kind of reliable transportation. Trips need to be at least every 15-20 minutes, like on the Duval Loop.

Residents and Business Need to Lobby the Mayor and Commissioners for Needed Action Now to Make Key West Transit Free, Frequent and Simple

In the end, if more people walk, bike and take the bus it makes our streets more efficient. It is friendly to our environment and helps combat climate change. It is more equitable for all our citizens. It makes us healthier. And happier too. Very importantly it helps our local mom and pop businesses prosper. THAT’S why the City must enact the Sustainability Advisory Board’s recommendations and raise metered parking fees by $0.50 cents and put the money towards Free, Frequent and Simple Transit. It will make our little island paradise all the better.



Chris Hamilton
Chris Hamilton

A native of the District of Columbia, where for a couple decades+ he led the nationally renown Commuter Services unit for Arlington County, VA’s DOT, Chris has lived in Key West since 2015. He lives downtown and works and volunteers for a couple non-profits.