Clean up your act! Palm Tran installing hand sanitizers on all 158 buses

Palm Tran driver supervisor Matthew Harris tries out new hand sanitizers Palm Beach County's bus company plans to install in all its buses in early 2017. (The Palm Beach Post/Eliot Kleinberg)
Palm Tran driver supervisor Matthew Harris tries out new hand sanitizers Palm Beach County’s bus company plans to install in all its buses in early 2017. (The Palm Beach Post/Eliot Kleinberg)

Turned off by the idea of touching anything on a public bus?

Palm Tran is installing hand sanitizers on all of its 158 vehicles.

The battery-operated devices will cost the county bus system around $4,130, which will come out of money in its maintenance budget.

The wall-mounted units will be installed starting next week and all should be up by the end of February, maintenance manager Jack Kavaliunas said at Thursday’s meeting of the Palm Tran Service Board, an advisory panel.

Each unit, with refill and mount, costs about $26. They’ll be bought through the county’s purchasing warehouse.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com

Palm Tran Service Board re-elects Chair Dwight Mattingly

Mattingly
Mattingly

Dwight Mattingly, chair of the Palm Tran Service Board for the last year, was reelected Thursday.

Mattingly was selected at the regular meeting of the advisory board for the county’s bus system.

Mattingly is himself a Palm Tran driver and for several years has been president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1577, which represents drivers.

Andre Cadogan, a regular Palm Tran rider and a “citizen at large” board member, was nominated for

Cadogan
Cadogan

chair; he opted to vote for Mattingly, saying he was doing a good job. Cadogan is a Wellington engineer and is co-founder of the National Black Republican Coalition.

Thursday’s vote of the 12-member board was 8-2; absent were Vice Chair Myra Goldick and board member — and Boca Raton City Council member — Robert Weinroth.

The board then elected Cadogan as vice chair without opposition.

Bridge, bus to go pink next month for Palm Beach County breast cancer fight

Bridge in Jan. 2016 (Meghan McCarthy/PB Daily News)
Bridge in January 2016 (Meghan McCarthy/PB Daily News)

A bridge and a bus will be pretty in pink next month to focus on breast cancer.

At 6 p.m. on Jan. 12, the Royal Palm Bridge — the “middle” bridge at Okeechobee Boulevard — will light up in pink, in partnership with Susan G. Komen South Florida. Just before that, Palm Tran will debut, for the fifth year, one of its buses that’s been wrapped in black, with pink lettering providing a message about breast cancer awareness. The bus, which operates on Palm Tran Route 1 — along U.S. 1 from Boca Raton to Palm Beach Gardens — will be wrapped for three to four months, Palm Tran said.

It’s all in advance of the Jan. 28 Komen South Florida Race for the Cure, which hopes to raise $1 million.

Komen South Florida says the bridge will stay lit into mid-February.

Palm Tran to install 2-seaters for bus riders

image2Palm Tran riders will have more opportunities to take a load off while waiting for the bus. The county bus agency plans to install 24 new bus stop seats at high-ridership locations in places where right-of-way problems prevent them from having a shelter or bench. The 24 stops selected for the seats account for 23,000 or more riders per month.

The 2-seat assembly, by the Simme-Seat company, attaches directly to a bus stop pole. The make it easier for drives to see waiting riders and provide a safer option for riders than sitting on the curb.

The $13,722 for the seats came from a federal grant.

County Commissioner Priscilla A. Taylor and Palm Tran managers will show off one of the new seats at 10:30 a.m. Monday at a stop at the Presidente Supermarket at Linton Square Plaza, at 1565 S. Congress Ave. in Delray Beach.

Palm Tran Connection hires new director

hockman
Hockman

Palm Tran Connection, Palm Beach County’s call-ahead bus service for the elderly, disabled and ill, has a new director.

Chad Hockman, whose official title will be Senior Manager of Paratransit, starts Thursday. He’ll be formally introduced at Thursday afternoon’s meeting of the Palm Tran Service Board, the agency’s advisory group.

Hockman will oversee a staff of 75 and a $30 million budget, Palm Tran Executive Director Clinton B. Forbes said Wednesday in a release.

The Ohio State University graduate worked for the college, then spent 13 years at a private paratransit provider that worked in six Midwestern and southern States.

Hockman will earn $107,000.  His predecessor, Ron Jones, had earned $115,000.

In May, Forbes, who had been Palm Tran director since November, demoted Jones and accepted the resignation of  Palm Tran deputy director, and former director, Chuck Cohen.

And in June, he contracted with a private firm to provide an interim director for the troubled subsidiary and reassigned two supervisors of the Connection’s scheduling operation. In late March, a Palm Beach County Inspector General report had said the Connection was doctoring on-time statistics.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Inspector General: Palm Tran consultant has “substantiated” critical report

010615 palm tran 3

An independent consultant hired by Palm Tran has “substantiated” a Palm Beach County Inspector General report detailing manipulation of on-time performance of Palm Tran Connection,, Inspector General John A. Carey told his agency’s executive committee Thursday at its semi-annual meeting.

Carey’s 103-page March 31 report outlined what it called a systematic doctoring of software at the Palm Tran subsidiary that provides call-ahead bus service for the elderly, disabled and ill. It says managers altered, or directed dispatchers to alter, between 21,000 and 46,000 reports.

Clinton Forbes, who’s been Palm Tran’s director since November. later hired David Rishel, head of a suburban Philadelphia transit-based consulting firm.

Forbes (Richard Graulich/staff)

Forbes (Richard Graulich/staff)

Carey told The Palm Beach Post after Thursday’s meeting that he met recently with Rishel and the consultant “was not completed with his work but my discussions with him seemed to substantiate the information that we found.”

Carey

Carey

But Forbes said late Thursday that he spoke with Rishel, who told him that he has not spoken to Carey.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Vana blasts Palm Tran Connection allegations

Commissioner Shelley Vana
Vana

Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana went off at Tuesday’s commission meeting about  last week’s blistering report by the Palm Beach County Inspector General bout Palm Tran Connection.

The report managers altered, or directed dispatchers to alter, between 21,000 and 46,000 reports of when a rider was picked up or dropped off late in the past 14 months, making them “inaccurate and inflated” and allowing the agency to reach a goal of a 95 percent on-time record.

“We have concerns regarding this, and I talked about it at length on this commission for the last four or five years,” Vana told colleagues Tuesday. “I hope that now we will have some action taken and we will get to the bottom of what happened.”

Vana has been outspoken about problems with the Connection, a problem-plagued subsidiary of Palm Tran that provides call-ahead bus service for the elderly, disabled and ill.

Clinton Forbes, who came on as Palm Tran director in November, was at Tuesday’s meeting but did not speak. He’s said he intends to conduct an outside investigation of his own into the Connection.

Forbes (Richard Graulich/staff)
Forbes (Richard Graulich/staff)

Palm Tran Connection signed contracts in January 2015 with three companies for a combined $190 million to provide the service after reaching a settlement with its old vendor to end its contract. For years, the county had heard complaints of late service, rude drivers and unclean buses as Metro Mobility Management Group racked up $2.5 million in fines.

The on-time standard is used by Palm Tran executives in reports to both customers and the Palm Beach County Commission, and managers know a performance record below 95 percent could result in contractors being dumped and managers being penalized. A poor on-time performance cost Chuck Cohen, Palm Tran executive director for nearly a decade, a demotion in January 2014, and later led to a major overhaul of the Connection.