The West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority began experimenting with a free-ride service in October 2021, and from the outset, the town of Palm Beach was included in the plan for moving people efficiently while reducing the need for use of personal vehicles.
The on-demand shuttle service was launched as a pilot program to ferry people for free throughout a zone that included both municipalities.
Last month, DDA official Raphael Clemente made a presentation to the town for a pilot program targeting the island's busy Midtown section. Council members liked the plan and agreed to contribute $30,000 to a six-week pilot program to increase the number of electric vehicles provided by free-ride service Circuit within the center of the town.
The goal is to improve transportation on the island while reducing parking demand, officials said in approving the pilot at the March 14 meeting. The pilot, which kicked off April 8 and ends May 19, included two additional electric cars to serve Palm Beach.
This a wonderful move toward addressing the issue of increased traffic, which has irked residents and caused a major headache for town officials as they try to figure out a solution.
The numbers of riders tracked by the DDA suggest that residents and visitors on both sides of the bridges have embraced the concept. We would encourage those who have not yet tried it, to do so. Town officials need everyone to play a part as they navigate solutions to the traffic problem.
For some residents, leaving the car at home and taking the shuttle to Worth Avenue should prove less stressful since there will be no need to hustle for parking.
The program also is targeting employees who often have to play musical chairs with shoppers for parking on the Avenue. If they can park in West Palm and take the shuttle over, that would mean fewer cars. Perhaps employers might collaborate and create their own larger shuttle to take even more workers across the bridge.
"It's a great option to have for shoppers, and possibly for employees as well," Worth Avenue Association president Frank Steinhart said about the free shuttle service.
Indeed, it is.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Daily News: Editorial: WPB shuttle a welcome response to island's traffic woes