If you could improve transportation in Palm Beach County, where would you want your money to go?
Pedestrian and bicycle projects? An expanded bus service? Increased bus frequency? Widening roads? Increased technology with traffic lights?
That’s one of the questions the county’s Transportation Planning Agency is asking Palm Beach County residents in a survey that launched last week with the help of Florida International University’s Metropolitan Center.
The survey is a way to get the public’s feedback on how local and state agencies could improve transportation and where they should put taxpayers’ money to do so. The feedback will be used in the TPA’s long range transportation plan updated every five years, but also in the short term, said Malissa Booth, the agency’s public relations manager. The responses will be shared with elected officials and transportation agencies including Palm Tran, the county’s public bus system, and Tri-Rail, the commuter rail line that services Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
“This survey is just a way to get a sounding board from the public to get feedback to officials to make decisions. What the public would like to see those funds spent on, to help influence what the priorities are,” Booth said.
Questions asked include: how often they travel to Broward and Miami-Dade counties; what city they travel most to; if they would use a self-driving vehicle; and if there was more safe and convenient access to transit, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, would they use those modes more?
Also, what type of funding sources would they support to provide for transportation improvements? Increase the gas tax? The sales tax? Vehicle registration? Property tax? Tolls?
It’s no secret that many roads in Palm Beach County are crowded and will continue to get more crowded as the population continues to grow. The TPA, which prioritizes and funds transportation projects and programs, is trying to encourage residents to try other modes of transportation to help limit the number of cars on the road. It would help traffic and the environment, Booth said.
“Hopefully people want to use those modes as traffic gets more congested,” she said.
FIU emailed the survey to about 100,000 residents last week. But it also can be accessed on the TPA’s website at www.palmbeachtpa.org/participate. There is not a cutoff date yet; the TPA is keeping it open until they get at least a couple thousand responses, Booth said.
The survey takes about 10 minutes and asks about a dozen questions that are answered anonymously. It’s available in both English and Spanish. The survey was done through a contract with a consultant who selected FIU to assist because of their familiarity with similar projects.
About 500 residents have responded to the survey, said Maria Ilcheva, an assistant scholar and senior researcher with FIU’s Metropolitan Center.
The center has conducted other surveys and focus groups for organizations including Miami-Dade County, Univision, Miami Dade Expressway Authority, Broward County Department of Elections, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Department of Transportation, according to its website.