Streets for People / New “Workforce Express” Key West Transit Service Begins May 15 Between Stock Island and Bahama Village
By Chris Hamilton. This story is cross posted in KONK Life newspaper on May 3 2023. Follow us at Friends of Car-Free Key West & Duval Street/Historic Downtown on Facebook, Twitter and check out all our Streets for People stories here.
Note: Since we published this story the City pushed back the debut of these changes to June 5.
Key West Transit begins a brand-new service dubbed the “Workforce Express” on Monday, May 15 between Stock Island and Bahama Village. There are four early morning trips about every hour beginning at 6:05 am in each direction, and then another four trips in the late afternoon beginning at 3:45. Each trip will take about 30 minutes, thus the moniker “Express,” and follow a simple and direct route. As this service begins, Key West Transit will phase out its old, North and South line routes with a full transition to the “Key West Rides” Uber-like on-demand service on Key West and Stock Island. The “Lower Keys Shuttle” and “Duval Loop” remain the same.
The new route is a welcome addition to a transit agency that is trying to help our beleaguered workforce get around without need of a car. As we’ve written in the past about the need for better transit for our workers between Stock Island and Key West (here and here and here) the addition of the Workforce Express bus service is good news and helps with downtown traffic and parking congestion too.
The New Workforce Express Route
The Workforce Express begins at the newly occupied 240-unit Wreckers Cay workforce housing development and then heads downtown via Duck Avenue where it will pass by the Poinciana Plaza Apartments and Arrive (formerly West Isle) Apartments on the one side and Key West Estates better known as “Smurf Village” on the other side. A lot of Key West workers live in these places, so the “Workforce Express” is aptly named. The route then turns onto Kennedy and finds North Roosevelt where it stays on Truman all the way into Bahama Village where people can walk to their job on Duval Street or catch a ride on the Duval Loop over to the Seaport. The route also follows the same path in the opposite direction. Fares are the usual $2 per trip, $8 a week or $25 a month.
Key West Rides Data Begets Workforce Express Route
Back in the fall when we interviewed Key West Transit Director Rod Delostrinos, about the new Key West Rides on-demand service he told us:
“The key to determining better service is to analyze the first few months of on-demand transit service, recognize emerging ridership patterns, and possibly develop additional transit service such as limited express bus.”
And lo and behold after just five months of collecting data from the on-demand service, they’ve come up with a new fixed-route express based on these ridership patterns. Anecdotally, we’ve heard from people on Stock Island and at the apartments along Duck that they’d been using the Key West Rides service to get to their job’s downtown. But one of the complaints was that the on-demand bus was circuitous and thus took a long time. Now those same people can zip into downtown on an express. Rod confirmed all this, telling us this week:
“The route is the product of our analysis of the Key West Rides On-Demand Transit. We were able to see ridership aggregation patterns of pick-up and drop-off locations. Fielding this route will get those recurring riders to their destinations faster and at the same time free up the Key West Rides On-Demand Transit service for other trips on Stock Island and Key West.”
Better Transit = Better Key West
Back in the fall as the Key West Rides service was about to debut, Mayor Teri Johnston told us:
“I’m thrilled to get the on-demand service up and running. As new housing units are added in and around Key West, this service can offer a cost effective and reliable way to get to and from work, save some money, reduce our street congestion, noise levels, parking issues and pollution, all while lowering our stress levels.”
Our Mayor, who has consistently pushed our transit agency for more and better service says it well. Good, reliable, frequent transit helps our workers, residents and visitors get around without need of a car. For our workforce, that means saving money that can be used towards sky high rents. And it means a more people-oriented and friendly downtown. We all win when Key West Transit is successful, so let’s wish this latest iteration of bus service good luck.
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