While the Keys is like living in paradise, the traffic situation can be tough

Richard Clark, the Monroe County Transit Authority Director, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM to talk about traffic in the Keys.

The weather can slow down traffic – even rain. That’s what has been happening recently. Standing water can cause hydroplaning and it’s important to pay attention.

Transportation in the Keys in general can bring a number of challenges.

Clark said, “We do really need to look at where people are entering and exiting our road system.”

While most people think US 1 is crowded, the where and why people are getting on and off the road can be important.

Clark said, “I think we’re headed in the right direction. We have started in earnest our Connected Vehicle pilot with FDOT. The idea there is to have data points throughout the entire Keys, allow the vehicles and these locations to pin one another and we’ll really get an understanding of where people are going, how fast they’re going and where our congested places are.”

The understanding why it gets congested can help traffic flow. Once that’s discovered, the transit authority will look at what can be done and how to do it.

Clark said, “That’s really one of my primary goals. How do we build a transit system that gets away from one car, one human? If we can get multiple people using our system, it’s really going to help us move around.”

The electrification of vehicles could be one solution.

Clark said, “There’s a lot of momentum there, but what we really need to do is work hand in hand with Keys Electric and the Co-op and make sure that if we indeed build the system, we need to make sure that we’re handling the corridor correctly that those electric providers have the right systems in place, that we don’t cause unnecessarily high loads. At the same time we need a grid that will get people in and out of the island as necessary.”

The first step is building the system and the electric charging stations would need to be in places where people spend time – grocery stores and libraries, for example.

Clark said, “That’s in concert with having very convenient, high-speed charging down your main corridor so that you can quickly re-charge your car and move on.”

Funding was approved for an analysis of the current transportation system.

Clark said, “We took a look at every, single way we are providing service today from Florida City all the way into Key West.”

It included public service as well as van pools that help get people to and from work.

Clark said, “It’s putting all those pieces together, seeing how they work together today and then really understanding our demand load. What we realized in the Lower Keys was that after about 2 o’clock, the demand really starts picking up. There are a lot of people who want and desire to ride public transit, which is great. Our job is to make sure we can provide that. Key West Transit is doing a great job right now. We’re hoping to help them a little more in October so that we can make sure everybody that wants to ride can ride.”

The analysis has just begun. There will be people actually out on the streets and in the buses to see what’s really going on with traffic.

Clark said, “There is a tremendous amount of analysis to be done. I’m hopeful that we will have a very formal survey out for everyone to participate in the coming months.”

Public and private input will be included so the updated system will work for everyone.

It will also include the Miami-Dade transit as well.

Clark said, “We need to dig really deep so we can understand what the load needs are.”

School buses also add another layer to transportation.

Clark said, “We need to pay attention to that. We need to make sure everyone’s children get to and from school on time and safely.”

The transit authority has been encouraged by how many people seem willing to participate.

Clark said, “People were really committed to say hey, if you build it, we will ride it.”