Downtowner Returns To Downtown Delray Beach

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Staff report

Re-download your Downtowner app because the downtown transportation company is back in Delray Beach.

During a recent special meeting, the Community Redevelopment Agency awarded the Delray Beach headquartered company with two contracts. The Downtowner will replace the trolley service and run its own fixed route service and will be bring back its on demand point to point service.

“It feels good to be coming home again,” Downtowner CEO Stephen Murray said. “It’s gonna be really great.”

The company’s familiarity with Delray Beach is what led agency board members to select the Downtowner over other competitors vying for the contracts.

“I like the experience of the Downtowner,” Commissioner Bill Bathurst said.

The Downtowner edged out First Transit, which currently operates the trolleys, for the fixed route contract and Freebee, a similar open air golf cart free ride company for the point to point contract.

For the fixed route service, the Downtowner will provide three small bus-type vehicles that will run off of propane. They will hold 14 seats each with 2 handicap accessible seats. The vehicles will be equipped with bicycle racks.

Riders will be able to download an app to see in real-time where the vehicle is located along the route.

The first year of the two year contract is expected to cost the CRA about $437,000. The second year, the cost would go down to $418,000. The board can renew the contract for up to an additional three, one-year terms.

For the point-to-point service, the Downtowner will provide eight GEM electric golf carts for the one year pilot program. The program will begin May 1 and expire April 30, 2020. The agency board can extend the program two times, one year periods for each extension.

At any given time, four of the golf carts will be on the road.

The one-year contract will cost the CRA nearly $592,000. Some of that money could possibly be reduced by advertising revenue on the carts.

The Downtowner began offering a free, point-to-point service in downtown Delray several years ago. It was solely supported on advertising revenue.

The company decided to end its service in the city after six years last October to pursue other business goals and opportunities.

When Delray decided to put out a request for services, the Downtowner responded.

The company used its experience to win over the board members to select them. They pitched moving the vehicles off of Atlantic Avenue and onto the side streets to help ease congestion and traffic. The trolleys clogging the Avenue was a complaint many commissioners expressed.

“The Downtowner guys get it,” Commissioner Adam Frankel said. “They know our city.”

The Downtowner also said the fixed route service and point-to-point service will be able to communicate with another. That means if a person requests a point-to-point ride, the app will direct them to the fixed route stop.

What several board members liked about the Downtowner is that smart technology in their app.

The app also tells riders when the driver will show up and tells the driver the order to pick up clients so they can focus on driving rather than navigating routes.

“We are excited to bring our technology to the table and our transportation expertise,” Murray said.