Appeals court sides with Palm Beach County in Palm Tran injury lawsuit

PalmTranThe 4th District Court of Appeal has upheld a judge’s tossing of a suit by a Palm Tran passenger saying he fell when the bus driver slammed on his brakes.

Altimon Palmer, in a suit filed Nov. 3, 2014, alleged that on the day before Christmas in 2013, he was boarding Palm Tran bus 716, heading down Congress Avenue in West Palm Beach, when the driver braked hard and Palmer fell.

In a memo Thursday to county commissioners, County Attorney Denise Nieman said county lawyers argued the Palm Tran bus was cut off and “there could be no negligence on the part of the bus driver under those circumstances.” She said lawyers for Palmer “argued that the issue of negligence should be left to a jury.”

On March 9, 2016, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Cheryl Caracuzzo granted the county’s motion to dismiss, saying “there are no genuine issues of fact.”  Palmer’s lawyers appealed, and on Wednesday, the appeals court upheld the dismissal without comment, according to documents.

Attorney Nicholas Russo, whose West Palm Beach firm represented Palmer, in both the original case and the appeal, said Friday he’ll formally ask the appeals court for a rehearing.

“We think the case law out there is pretty clear that the ruling by the trial court should have been overruled,” Russo said.

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 offers free rides to polls Tuesday; 368 take advantage

PalmTran

UPDATE, noon Nov. 9: Palm Tran says 368 people used the free Palm Tran rides to the polls on Tuesday.

Palm Tran, Palm Beach County’s public transportation system, says it will offer free rides Tuesday for people to vote.

You must present a valid voter information card when boarding.

The offer is valid for all 35 routes system-wide throughout Palm Beach County for the entire day, but isn’t valid for use on Palm Tran Connection, which provides call-ahead bus service for the elderly, disabled and ill.

Palm Beach County voters will cast ballots for president as well as 36 other federal, state and local races and seven referenda, including four amendments to the Florida Constitution and a Palm Beach County sales tax increase.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday for 868 precincts at 461 polling locations, according to the county supervisor of elections.

Bring your voter registration card and a form of photo identification. Your polling place is shown on your voter registration card, or you can find it at pbcelections.org/precinctfinder.aspx

Palm Tran names two executives

Clinkscale
Clinkscale
Smith
Smith

Palm Tran has hired Sean K. Smith as Director of Operations for the county bus agency. Smith starts Nov. 14, Palm Tran executive director Clinton Forbes told county elected officials and staff in an Oct. 26 email.

Smith has 25 years in the transit business. He started as a dispatcher for the Greyhound bus line and for seven years has been general manager and CEO at the Durham, N.C., transit system. He will oversee more than 530 bus drivers, maintenance workers and training and safety staff, and a nearly $80 million budget, and will report to Forbes.

Forbes had announced Oct. 11 that he was appointing Keith Clinkscale manager of a newly-created office of performance management, starting Oct. 17. Clinkscale will produce performance reports.  Clinkscale joined Palm Tran in February 2015 as a paratransit dispatcher, arranging pickups for ill, elderly and disabled passengers.

Palm Beach County Commission to vote on raises for Fire-Rescue district chiefs

palm-beach-county-logoA raise for Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue district chiefs is part of the agenda for today’s meeting of the Palm Beach County Commission.

Commissioners Tuesday are set to ratify a collective bargaining agreement with Professional Firefighters/Paramedics of Palm Beach County, Local 2928 of the International Association of Fire Fighters. The raises will cost the county$256,992 over three years.

Also on the agenda:

Homeless shelter: Will hear the county has bought the homeless shelter on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard and Henrietta Avenue from the Center for Family Services for $950,000 and will invest another $200,000 in repairs and renovations.

Palm Tran: Will hear Palm Tran is receiving $1.3 million in federal grants for new fare boxes and routing systems, partly to better coordinate with Tri-Rail.

Drones: will hear the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is getting a $1 million state grant for drones.

Palm Beach County Commission Meeting:

When: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Public comment at 2 p.m. Where: Sixth-floor chambers, Weisman Palm Beach County Governmental Center, 301 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

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.

Update: Palm Beach County Commission OKs expansion of natural areas

022814 ERM nature photo class 5UPDATE: Items approved this morning as shown.

Palm Beach County nature lovers soon could have lots more open space to wander. 

County Commissioners, at today’s meeting, are set to obtain 46 acres from the state to expand the Loxahatchee Slough Natural Area, and to spend about $55,000 to buy three canal right-of-way parcels and create a 10-mile walking trail that will connect Riverbend Park and the Corbett Wildlife Management Area. APPROVED.

Also on the agenda:

Taxis: Set to approve new rules that charge drivers for Uber and similar app-based ride services $2.50 per pickup at Palm Beach International Airport and prevents them from waiting for pickups on airport roads or in the parking lots of private businesses near PBIA. APPROVED

Buses: Votes to sell, for $2, two Palm Tran buses to Pasco County. When counties retire buses bought with federal grants that still are in decent operating condition, they often donate them to other communities. APPROVED

Sikorsky: Set to approve, in second and final vote, a $128,575 tax break, plus an $18,200 cash incentive, for Sikorsky Aircraft. APPROVED

What: Palm Beach County Commission meeting. When: 9:30 a.m. Where: Sixth-floor commission chambers of the Palm Beach County Robert Weisman Governmental Center, 301 N. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.