Pedicabs Not Rolling Onto Atlantic Avenue, Trolly Service To End As Well As Downtowner Service

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By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor

The third time was not the charm for Delray resident Patrick Halliday who wants to bring his pedicab service to downtown Delray.

Commissioners did not approve bringing a pedicab pilot program downtown in a 2-2 vote.

With Commissioner Bill Bathurst absent from the meeting last month, a 2-2 vote is a fail. Mayor Shelly Petrolia and Commissioner Ryan Boylston supported the program but Commissioner Adam Frankel and Shirley Johnson were against the proposal.

“I wasn’t really for it until I actually rode it,” Petrolia said. “I wouldn’t mind attempting or trying it in certain areas.”

But half of the commission wasn’t swayed by Halliday’s pitch. He said he runs his pedicab service successfully in downtown Boca.

“Why is this not allowed in Delray?” he asked commissioners.

Previous commissions heard his idea in 2015 and 2017. It was voted down both times.

“I don’t know any place in Boca that is similar to Atlantic Avenue,” Johnson said. “I am not really in favor of the pedicabs.”

Frankel agreed and said he didn’t think the benefits outweighed the concerns expressed by the police department.

The police department said pedicabs were permitted downtown in 1998 and drivers often broke driving laws. Policing the pedicabs would be low on the department’s priority list, they told commissioners.

But with the Community Redevelopment Agency board voting to defund the trolley program as of Oct. 1 and the Downtowner golf cart service announcing its plans to leave the city by Oct. 1, Boylston the pedicab proposal came at a good time.

News of the Downtowner leaving Delray and the Community Redevelopment Agency board defunding the trolley service occurred nearly back-to-back.

The popular tip-only ride service the Downtowner, which launched in Delray in 2012, will no longer be giving rides in Delray as of Oct. 1.

In a long letter to its customers, co-founder Stephen Murray outlined the reasons why the company is leaving Delray.

Mainly, the system the company uses in Delray to operate is the only city utilizing that model. The “Downtowner 1.0 system” is  a model that is solely funded on ad revenue. Advertisers pay for the golf carts that feature their business information on it.

Murray’s letter states that it is “an inconsistent way to try to run a public transit system.”

Delray did issue a request for proposal for companies with smart transit options to respond to. Murray said the city did not award the Downtowner with a contract. So, he said the team decided to make a business decision to pull out of Delray.

Commissioners were bombarded with pleas to the keep the Downtowner operating. But the company is private and has made the decision to cease operations on its own.

Not long after the Downtowner news, the CRA board voted not to fund the downtown trolley service.

The charge to end the trolley service was led by Commissioner Frankel.

The city will re-issue a request for proposal for downtown transportation services.  The previous one was awarded to the trolley service by staff.

Commissioners bashed staff for not bringing the topic to them for a decision. City Manager Mark Lauzier said he will prepare a new RFP.