Boca Raton Seeks More Downtown Transportation Options, Parking

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Staff report

If you run a trolley company or a free-ride service, the city of Boca Raton is looking for you.

The city is looking to add ways to get people around downtown without their cars. To do so, the city is issuing a request for proposals for a fixed route transportation service like a trolley and an on-demand service that uses an electric or hybrid vehicle to get people from place to place.

“If we can build an alternate way for people to get around they would embrace it,” Councilman Robert Weinroth said.

Boca officials have been looking for ways to replace the Downtowner, which left the city about a year ago. The service provided free rides to people through a mobile app. The service was supported by advertisements on the carts and drivers could accept tips.

The city is encouraging other businesses to come into the city now. Representatives from The Free Ride and Slidr, similar concepts, said they would consider coming to Boca.

Council members said businesses can begin operating immediately if they don’t require funds from the city. If they do, they can pursue a response to the RFP.

The city is looking for vendors who can provide either a fixed route service, an on-demand service or a service for special events.

The vehicles will have to have a mobile application component for people to request rides, be registered for use on public roads, seat anywhere from four to 32 people, not charge riders for rides and offer electric or hybrid vehicles.

A survey sent out from the city about downtown transportation indicated people would use a service like a trolley or a golf cart.

The city recently allowed a pedicab service downtown.

Council members said they would like to see a service implemented by the start of season.

“If we could get it up and operating before season that would be absolutely ideal,” Councilman Jeremy Rodgers said.

In addition to getting people around downtown, council members also have to decide on a place to build a new parking garage. The city will have a parking study to review this month.

A once proposed location on the new library is now being reconsidered by some council members.

Councilman Scott Singer wants to move ahead with a plan to build a garage east of the downtown library, on the west side of the railroad tracks. Other members wan the city to look for a different location on the east side of the tracks.

“We all want to find a solution,” Mayor Susan Haynie said. “That being said, I agree with most of the dais that the location behind the new library isn’t the right location.”

City Manager Leif Ahnell said the city has reached out to property owners to see if they would be interested in selling their land to the city to build a garage. He said none were willing to sell.

The city will discuss the topic next month when they see the parking study.