Walkable West Palm Beach

Rolling field trip to highlight PBC transportation projects

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Palm Beach MPO Director Nick Uhren and Palm Tran Director Charles Frazier are to be commended for arranging a “rolling field trip” for MPO board members to experience public transit in Palm Beach County.

Kudos to the elected officials planning to attend. As of this writing, they include:

 West Palm Beach City commissioners Keith James and Shanon Materio; Wellington councilwoman Anne Gerwig; Palm Beach Gardens Vice Mayor Eric Jablin; Jupiter councilwoman Wendy Harrison; and county commissioners Steven Abrams, Priscilla Taylor, Mary Lou Berger, Melissa McKinlay and Paulette Burdick.  [if we missed anyone, please note so in the comments below]

I look forward to the day when a special field trip isn’t necessary for our public officials to understand our county’s transportation system. Until then, this is a fantastic event and we hope it becomes a regular occurance.

The public is welcome to attend. See details in story below and RSVP.

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Story from the Palm Beach Post – Rolling field trip to highlight PBC transportation projects.

Trains, trolleys and buses will make up the unique setting Thursday for a rolling field trip by elected officials who serve on a Palm Beach County transportation board.

The 19 members of the Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization usually meet every month in a conference room on the 12th floor of the county Government Center in downtown West Palm Beach.

But their next meeting will be a “rolling retreat” that will start at the Tri-Rail station in downtown West Palm Beach and continue to Boca Raton and Delray Beach with rides on shuttles, buses and trollies.

No votes or formal action will be taken. “It’s just an opportunity for them to experience the (county’s transportation) system,’’ said Nick Uhren, the MPO’s executive director.

“It’s not a retreat in the sense where we will even have discussion shaping future policies. It’s more of a field trip to give board members an opportunity to have this experience and let this experience guide their future conversations about transportation items.’’

Uhren said he thinks the rolling field trip is the first of its kind ever held by the Palm Beach MPO, which is made up of elected officials from the county, some of its largest municipalities and the Port of Palm Beach.

The field trip was requested last year by MPO members who “wanted an opportunity to experience the projects we spend so much time debating,’’ Uhren said.

Uhren said he received planning help from Charles Frazier, deputy director at Palm Tran, the county’s bus system. Frazier last year helped launch a “rolling” meeting for the advisory Palm Tran Service Board.

“That emboldened me to try this and know that this is doable in compliance with Sunshine Law regulations,’’ Uhren said.

Members of the public are welcome to attend, too. Anyone can join or leave the tour at scheduled times and locations in West Palm Beach and Delray Beach.

The public also can observe and participate via video conference at the MPO office at Vista Center, 2300 N. Jog Rd., 4th Floor, West Palm Beach, FL 33411.

But for planning purposes, members of the public planning to attend via either method are encouraged to contact MPO staff at 561-684-4170 or by emailing MBooth@PalmBeachMPO.org at least 48 hours prior to the retreat.

“It’s a great idea because, frankly, I have not used (public transportation) that frequently. It’s a good idea to see what we’ve got,” said County Commissioner Hal Valeche, the MPO board’s vice chairman.

“We talk about things theoretically but it will be nice to see things as they actually operate. It will be a very interesting day.”

The retreat will start at 9:30 a.m. at Tri-Rail’s southbound platform at the West Palm Beach Intermodel Center and go until about 3:30 p.m. There will be presentations on transportation projects throughout the tour and at each stop.

The retreat is focused in south county because the tour is structured around Tri-Rail, which has popular stops in Boca Raton and Delray Beach. Tri-Rail’s current northernmost stop is in Mangonia Park, just north of West Palm Beach.

At the first stop in Boca Raton, MPO members can either take a short ride on the Arvida Park of Commerce’s Commuter Shuttle or tour the El Rio Trail

In Delray Beach, the MPO ride on the Delray Trolley, the city’s free trolley service, from the Tri-Rail station to downtown for lunch followed by a walking tour.

The tour ends with a bus ride up U.S. 1 to highlight bike-lane improvements in Boynton Beach.

Among the other MPO members planning to attend the meeting are West Palm Beach City commissioners Keith James and Shanon Materio; Wellington councilwoman Anne Gerwig; Palm Beach Gardens Vice Mayor Eric Jablin; Jupiter councilwoman Wendy Harrison; and county commissioners Steven Abrams, Priscilla Taylor, Mary Lou Berger, Melissa McKinlay and Paulette Burdick.

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